FITT Expanding the Understanding of Pilates Exercise



F: Frequency

I: Intensity

T: Time

T: Type

Expanding the Understanding of Pilates Fitness:

Basic Principles of Traditional Training Principles of Pilates

  • Principle of Adaptation
  • Principle of Specificity
  • Ceiling Principle/Principle of Diminishing Returns
  • Maintenance Principle
  • Principle of Reversibility
  • Principle of Overload
  • Progressive Load Principle
  • Contraction Control Principle
  • Principle of Symmetry
  • Stress-Rest Principle
  • Overtraining

  • Endurance
  • Stabilization
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular strength
  • Concentration
  • Breathing
  • Control
  • Flowing movement
  • Joint release

Principle of Adaptation

Bodies physically adapt to the demands put on them. This response can be short-term (acute) or long term (chronic). For long term adaptation, the physical demands must be regular and repeated. We could include the Principle of Initial Values and Principles of Inter Individual Variability. These individual responses to training are quite variable and depend on a number of factors, such as age, initial fitness level, health status. Their program should be designed to meet specific needs, interests and abilities.

Principle of Specificity

Physically bodies respond and adapt to specific demands that are imposed during training. For increasing muscle size and strength, demands of heavier resistance is used with fewer repetitions. Increasing muscular endurance demands lighter resistance with more repetition.

Demands also can be directed to specific muscle groups. For simple exercises that work a specific group, only that muscle group will be affected for the imposed demands.

The SAID principle states Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands on the body will change the physical condition.

S: Specific

A: Adaptation to

I: Imposed

D Demands

Cross training is a way of practicing SAID on a day to day basis. It challenges the body differently in different ways to achieve balance and overall fitness.

Ceiling Principle/Principle of Diminishing Returns

Individual fitness levels cannot increase indefinitely and at a point increased imposed demands for adaptation will not produce an increase in fitness level. Excessive fatigue, injury and regression may occur. Heredity is a factor in individual ceilings.

Maintenance Principle

Using the principle of adaptability to reach the desired level of fitness, exercise must be continued to maintain the level. This maintenance frequency of the exercise may be reduced by two thirds while keeping the achieved fitness level.

Simply, if you work out three times a week to achieve a certain fitness level you would need to work out two times a week to maintain.

Principle of Reversibility

If exercise is stopped, or the body is not stressed regularly, the training adaptations will be lost at about one third the rate at which they were gained. One month of training will be totally lost in three months. Cardiovascular fitness is lost at a faster rate.

Principle of Overload

When muscles perform at maximal strength and endurance capacities with workloads above those daily encountered improvements in strength and endurance occurs.

In the fitness program overload is imposed by different combinations of FITT activity.

F: Frequency

I: Intensity

T: Time

T: Type

Progressive Load Principle

The training effect occurs by gradually overloading and then allowing recovery to build to a greater strength level than before. It is important to apply the overload example carefully. Gradual increases of weight and intensity with adequate rest between sessions is crucial to avoid injury and tissue damage.

Contraction Control Principle

Movements need to be performed in a steady controlled manner. This ensures the speed of repetition does not exceed the muscles ability to contract.

Principle of Symmetry

Overall balanced development of the body is important and balanced muscles development increased joint stability. Starting with a good overall conditioned body will achieve greater results than with specific or uneven development. In working symmetrically, always work opposing muscle groups, i.e., biceps/triceps, chest/back, hip flexors/hamstrings and glutes.

Stress-Rest Principle

Resistance training requires the stress-rest principle. Optimal rest time may require 48 to 72 hours to recover. The muscles need time for rest in recovery and to become stronger.


Overtraining can lead to an inability to relax, muscles soreness and stiffness, and increased nervousness and depression. Exercise can be taken too far and lead to overtraining where more is not better. If the emotional and physically body warning signs are present it is advisable to decrease intensity or take several days off.

A person must listen to their body for fatigue through the exercises and also throughout the weekly/monthly set program, or overtraining may occur.