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In setting up a program for a client who wants to lose weight, how would you explain the importance of cardiorespiratory, muscular, and flexibility in their program? According to the FITT guidelines, what would be the optimal way of utilizing each modality in a weekly program (Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type)?

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Without knowing the specifics of this particular client, it is very tough to set up a hypothetical optimal fitness plan. I can offer some basic guidelines and warnings. The first thing to remind the client is that to lose weight, the diet program is equally important to follow. The person...

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can exercise all they want, but if they are still consuming 10,000 calories per day, they are not likely to lose weight. My other main warning is that the fitness program absolutely needs to be tailored to the individual, or you risk injuring the client because you created a program that their body wasn't ready for. For example, don't expect the person to run 2 miles per day if they are overweight and have never been capable of running a mile.

I'll also explain the importance of cardiovascular, muscular, and fitness training. The cardio work is mainly for burning calories. The muscle/lifting workouts are generally anaerobic and designed for building strength, and the flexibility training is designed to prevent injuries, help muscles recover, and obtain normal range of motion (ROM). Finally, it's important to teach this person the value of rest. Intense exercise 7 days per week doesn't let the body recover, and scheduled recovery days are crucial. The recovery days can be weekends or spaced out like on a Wednesday and Saturday.

If the person has never been subjected to a rigorous training regiment, it might be easier to have specific days targeting cardio and other days targeting the muscle training. This allows you to keep things more organized for your client rather than trying to incorporate anaerobic exercises into something that seems like cardio work (short, repeat sprints at maximum effort is not cardio work). Having different days for different types of training also drives home the "type" from FITT. It's important to vary the type of exercise being done.

If you have 3 days dedicated to cardio, have one of those days be the "long" day. If the exercise is running, then that day adds an additional 5 minutes to the run. You can incorporate a "short" run day too; however, the short run day needs to be at a pace that is right around 85% of the VO2 Max that you hopefully calculated. Not only does this type of program take care of the "time" portion of FITT, but it also incorporates the "intensity" portion.

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