What is the best exercise?

Many people have an opinion about what type of exercise is best.

Some say squatting; others say dead-lifts.

There are those who like burpees.

Endurance athletes would say running, biking or swimming.

So what is the best exercise?

Since 80% of adult Americans do not get the recommended amount of exercise, the best exercise is-

The one that you will do or are doing!

Exercise has a different meaning or purpose for everyone.

Weight loss, conditioning and increasing lean body mass are common goals, as well as reducing blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

Exercise can also enhance quality of life, increase energy and promote well-being.

Whatever your goal, here are a few principles that will help you to get the most out of your program.


The F.I.T.T.E  Principle is one of the foundations of exercise that describes a set of guidelines to help you set up a workout routine to fit your goals and fitness level, while helping you get the most out of your exercise program.

F.I.T.T.E stands for:

  1. Frequency: How often you exercise.

    • For cardio exercise: Exercise guidelines suggest moderate exercise five days a week or intense cardio three days a week to improve your health. For weight loss, you may need to do up to six or more days a week.

    • For strength training: The recommended frequency is 3-4 days a week mixing up body parts, i.e. don’t train the same body part on consecutive days.

  2. Intensity: How hard you work during exercise

    • For cardio exercise: The general rule is to work in your target heart rate zone and focus on a variety of intensities to stimulate different energy systems.

    • For strength training: The exercises you do (at least 8-10 exercises), the amount of weight you lift and your reps and sets determine the intensity of your strength workouts. In general, you want to lift enough weight so that you can complete the desired number of reps (around 1-3 sets of 6-20 reps of each exercise- depending on your goals).

  3. Time: How long you exercise

    • For cardio exercise: The exercise guidelines suggest 30-60 minutes of cardio (or working your way up to that). How long you exercise will not just be dependent on your fitness level, but also your intensity. The harder you work, the shorter your workouts will be, e.g. High Intensity Interval Training.

    • For strength training: How long you lift weights depends on the type of workout you’re doing and your schedule. For example, a total body workout could take up to an hour, whereas a split routine could take less time.

  4. Type: The type of activity you’re doing

    • For cardio exercise: Any activity that gets your heart rate up counts as cardio – running, walking, cycling, dancing, sports, etc.

    • For strength training: This  includes any exercise where you’re using some type of resistance (bands, dumbbells, machines, etc.) to work your muscles. Bodyweight exercises are also considered a form of strength training and can be a useful part of a program

       5.   Enjoyment: If you choose exercise that you enjoy doing, chances are you will be more compliant and consistent, which                                                  equates to better results and long-term health benefits.

The F.I.T.T.E Principle is important because it outlines how to manipulate your program to get in shape and get better results.

It also helps you figure out how to change your workouts to avoid boredom, overuse injuries and plateaus.

A basic exercise program should also integrate:

1. Flexibility

2. Core

3. Balance

4. Plyometrics

5. Resistance exercises

6. Cardiorespiratory exercises

Exercise causes stress to your body, that results in adaptations. By carefully manipulation the acute variables of an exercise program, this stress will lead  to the desired results.

If the stress from exercise is not controlled or varied in a programmed or periodized way, it can result in injury and adverse effects on your health.

So what are you waiting for?       It’s time to get F.I.T.T.E!



About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin