Ways To Vary Your Exercise Routine

For the last couple of posts, we’ve been discussing why you may not be making progress in your fitness levels, (Part 1 and Part 2) and why changing up your exercise routine is a key factor in your continued progress.

The F.I.T.T principle provides some simple guidelines for keeping your exercise program fresh and effective. The body is very good at adapting, so changing just a one or two of these factors every 4-12 weeks will help keep your progress from stalling out.

F – Frequency

Frequency refers to the number or workouts you have each week and/or the number of times you train a specific body part (such as with a body-builder style workout where specific body parts are trained a certain number of days per week).

I – Intensity

Intensity refers to how strenuous you are working out or the level of demand that is placed on the body. A great way to take a quick check of your intensity is by using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale: a one being little or no effort and a ten being maximum effort. In addition to the RPE scale, intensity in strength training can also be measured by the amount of weight you are lifting or by the number of reps/sets you are completing with a particular weight within a certain amount of time.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that when intensity goes up, time goes down. This means that the harder you are working, the shorter the activity should be before a rest period is taken.

T – Time

Time refers to the duration of any given workout. It can also refer to the length of rest periods taken in between sets or intervals. For example, longer rest periods are typically used when training for maximum strength, whereas shorter rest periods are used when doing a circuit style workout. With cardio intervals, rest times can vary anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes between high intensity periods of work.

T – Type

Type refers not only to the type of exercise, but also to the methods used to perform the exercise.  Here are some example exercises and a few of the ways they could be implemented:


Squats Pushups


Barbell – Back/Front Squat Incline


Kettlebells – Double/Single Arm



Sumo Squat

Tricep/Close Grip

Uphill Road/Treadmill Single Leg/Split Squat

Single Leg/Single Arm

How can you apply the F.I.T.T. Principle into your current workouts? Below is a summary of common variables you can easily change in your exercise routine. Try changing just one or two variables at a time, and keep those same variables consistent in your workouts for 4-12 weeks. Remember that small changes lead to great results!

  • Number of reps completed in a set
  • Number of total sets of a particular exercise
  • Length of rest periods between sets or intervals
  • Tempo/Pace (how fast or slow you perform an exercise)
  • Load/Amount of weight used
  • Type of exercise completed and/or the type equipment used
  • Exercise order/set up (supersets, giant sets, circuit style)

Are you not sure what to change or have certain needs you wish to address through your training?  Find a fitness professional who can not only work with you to design a specific program for your needs, but also educate you on implementing these training concepts into your fitness program.




The information found on this blog is based on my own personal thoughts and opinions. I am not a doctor or registered dietician. Please be sure to consult your health care professional before starting or changing any fitness or nutrition program.


Henriques, Tim. NPTI’s Fundamentals of Fitness and Personal Training. United States: Human Kinetics, 2015.

NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. 4th Ed., Edited by Micheal A. Clark, Brian G. Sutton, Scott C. Lucett. United States: National Academy of Sports Medicine, 2014.

Copyright: luckybusiness / 123RF Stock Photo

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