Posts Tagged ‘Components of Fitness’

Being fit is not only about being able to meet the demands of your daily activities (work, school, etc) well, but about having that extra energy for other recreational pursuits, unplanned activities, and/or emergencies without getting too tired. These two definitions that I found are what I think the most accurate and complete.

The first definition by Clarke (1976) is the one which was used by most Physical Education subjects:

The ability to carry out daily tasks (work and play) with vigour and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies.

Hoeger (2006) rephrased the definition while keeping it specific and complete:

The ability to meet the ordinary as well as the unusual demands of daily life safely and effectively without being overly fatigued and still have energy left for leisure and recreational activities.

Cardio-vascular Endurance, Muscular Endurance, and Speed are the main components in Running.

Cardio-vascular Endurance, Muscular Endurance, and Speed are the main components in Running.

Fitness has various aspects which should be fully understood by coaches and trainers for a more elaborate and complete training program that would help the athlete/client reach his/her goals effectively. It is subdivided into two kinds of components that helps define it more specifically: Health-related components and Skill-related components. This means that a person can be healthy without being fit. Therefore, I believe that for the sedentary individual who wants to change and live life to the full, the coach/trainer should set Fitness as the main goal and not just “Health.”


There have been a lot of variations with regards to the number of Components of Fitness – some say there are as many as 12 while others narrow it down to as few as 4 components. For me, being specific is important to fully understanding the primary goal of achieving Fitness and that there are 11 Components that should be considered with regards to exercise programming. One thing to keep in mind is the Principle of Individuality – for every component each person has a different ‘level of fitness‘ compared to another, and the level to be reached for athletes (ie, ‘high and competitive fitness level’) may be different for regular individuals (average or above average fitness level). For example, some people relate being fit to just body composition and strength, but flexibility should also be targeted even for the office worker to relieve him/her of chronic back pains. However, the target level of flexibility for the sedentary individual would be much lower compared to the target for athletes, like those who train in gymnastics.

Another thing to remember: while it is important to be aware of the specifics, training for these Fitness Components usually overlap and it might not be helpful to over-analyze the training program and develop each component interdependently. A good exercise program whether for athletes or for ordinary individuals would have those components working together, and just focus on a single component to be developed when it seems necessary.

Health-related Components

    1.) Cardio-Respiratory Endurance– the ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels (Cardiovascular and Respiratory System) to deliver oxygen to the working muscles and remove wastes.

    This component requires the Aerobic (Oxidative) System to provide energy for activities done for prolonged periods (continuous for about an hour and more) and involves the whole body (ie, running, swimming, bicycling). The level of Cardio-Respiratory Endurance can be observed not only by how long a person/athlete can sustain an activity, but also on how fast he/she recovers during rest.

Muscular Endurance.

Muscular Endurance.

    2.) Muscular Endurance– this refers to the local or individual ability of a muscle to sustain work for a prolonged period of time with due fatigue.
    3.) Muscular Strength– this is the ability of the muscles to exert force against a resistance. There are types of Muscular strength: Isometric contraction (resisting force without moving or shortening muscles), Dynamic or Isotonic contraction (ie, pushing, pulling, lifting), and Isokinetic contraction.
    4.) Flexibility– this refers to the continuum of Range of Motion (ROM) that a joint or sequence of joints can fully reach. It can be either static (flexibility without moving) or dynamic (moving a joint through its ROM while doing an activity/sport).
    5.) Body Composition– our body is composed mainly of bone, muscle, and fat. The ratio between the three is essential to knowing the fitness level of an individual, that is, the contrast of the mass of bones, muscle and organs (lean body mass) against body fat. The leanness or fatness of an indiviudal may vary according to one’s somatotype (body type), age, and weight, but there are norms to determine the healthy ratio for a specific person.


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    A significant amount of Flexibility is important even to non-athletes.

    A significant amount of Flexibility is important even to non-athletes.

    Skill-related Components

      6.) Speed– is measured by the distance covered over time, or simply, how fast the body can move quickly in one direction. This is shown in running forward, backpedaling, or side stepping.
      7.) Power– Power is the product of force and speed (Force x Distance/Time). It is the combination of strength and speed which produces the maximal contraction in one explosive act (ex, jumping, throwing).
      8.) Coordination– refers to the ability of the body to control the muscles of the body in a flowing and harmonious way to produce the most efficient desired action. The neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems work together for an accurate execution of a physical task. This is very important in other skill-related components of Fitness.
      9.) Balance– as the name implies, this is the ability of the body to maintain equilibrium whether in a static (single-leg stand or handstand) or dynamic position. Dynamic balance is essential to any sport.
      10.) Reaction Time– refers to the quickness of the nervous system to respond to an eternal stimuli. The brain receives the stimuli (by the 5 senses) and sends signals to specific muscles to respond appropriately. This will show the worth of repeated practice sessions that cause the muscles to “memorize” the necessary movements.
      11.) Agility– this is the ability to change direction quickly while moving at a fast speed. It is a combination of flexibility, coordination, balance, speed, and power. This can be seen in sports such as tennis, football, basketball, and the likes.
    Sports such as Football utilizes all of the Skill-related Components of Fitness.

    Sports such as Football utilizes all of the Skill-related Components of Fitness.

    Note again that these health and skill related components of Fitness are not discrete – they usually overlap and work with each other. Thus, developing a training program need not to be too specific to address each component individually as long as the exercises and drills work the necessary components required to reach the desired goal for the athlete or client.

     

     

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Optimum massThe mixed smell of iron, sweat, and rust wasn’t really lovely but I guess my olfactory nerves eventually got accustomed to it. I first took up Weight Training class as my second P.E. of choice, thinking that improving my anaerobic capacity would be of more benefit for me since I have asthma. I thought that getting stronger first would be better for me, before I undertake physical activities that require more aerobic component (The next P.E. I was thinking of taking was Swimming. If you’ve read Part 1, you’ll know why). However – having no background in sports training – it was in that class that I was first able to understand, apply, and experience the Principles of Training.


Here are some of the Principles of Training that would help you train better as well:

  • Individuality. I knew how un-fit I was and I wanted to improve and get stronger. This principle may be one of the most gracious – it implies that each person or athlete has their own individual differences, and the training program must consider those differences. What worked for one person might not work for another. You can’t simply copy what the other person does in the gym and expect the same results in the same time. For a long time -and even until now – coaches have been implementing a ‘one size fits all’ approach to training, sometimes even copying the training program of a winner’s team. This might result to undue load and stress to the athlete.

    Physiological, social, and psychological differences must be considered before doing a training program. I learned about the different somatotypes or body types – the endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. I was somewhere in between an endomorph and a mesomorph, so I should not expect to look skinny like an ectomorph, and I ought to capitalize on my own somatotype. I also realized that I work out better when I am on my own, or at least have my personal space in the gym. Some people won’t work out without a ‘workout buddy’ or a ‘spotter’ – for me, I am able to focus more when there’s no one looking.

    An individualized training program will help the person or the athlete achieve improvements in strength and performance more efficiently. If you are training with a group of people, modifications can be incorporated for your individual needs. Last but not the least, be realistic and set goals according to your individuality.

  • Specificity. This is also known as the SAID principle – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. This simply means that our bodies adapt to the specific mode of training and stress that we put into it. If you swim, you’ll get faster and stronger at swimming but you won’t be improving at another skill, say, throwing. This means that you have to work the same muscle groups that work for the movement or skill that you want to improve. Also, you have to be specific to the type of training that you will be doing, if it will be aerobic or anaerobic in nature.

    For me, I didn’t improve much of my aerobic capacity when I started because I just focused on lifting weights and training for Powerlifting. If you’re just doing weights at the gym, you won’t develop your legs or any other part of your body if you just do bicep curls.

  • posterior chain

  • Progressive Overload. This may be my ‘favourite’ principle among the list. It suggests that to see improvements in training, a person must exceed the level of stress applied to the body that he/she is accustomed to. You must do more than what you are used to doing so that you will see the results you want to see. Challenge yourself every workout. Give your maximum effort, and may be even a little more. But as much as overloading our system is important, we should remember to do it progressively. The body adapts to the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during training. Additional load can be applied either to Volume – the amount of repetitions that you do the exercise; or the Intensity – the amount of effort to maximal that you apply to do the exercise.
  • Detraining (Reversibility). Our body is designed very well to adapt that it even adapts even if we do nothing! This principle is sometimes referred to as the “use it or lose it” principle. Studies show that athletes who stop their sports and training eventually loses the fitness and skill components over time. You lose fitness when you stop exercising and how quickly you lose fitness depends on factor such as your fitness level when you stopped, how long you’ve been exercising, and how long you stopped. For conditioned athletes, studies show that they become detrained after three months of not exercising. However, for sedentary and beginning athletes, studies shows that stopping exercise only after two months brought them back to their original fitness level!

    All of us has reasons to stop exercising or training for a while. This principle reminds us to take it easy whenever we go back to training. During college and being part of the Powerlifting team, there were many times that I had to stop training for a few weeks and even a couple of months because I needed to study for an exam or finish a paper. This principle works with progressive overload because I had to go back to lighter loads and progress again before training for another competition. The good news according to research is that athletes and more trained individuals are able to retrain faster even after a long break.

  • Recovery. Last but definitely not the least is the Principle of Rest and Recovery. This principle of rest applies to both the short rest needed in between exercise sets and the longer time intervals of several hours up to 2 days after an intense workout. Our bodies need time to recover from the loads and stresses of training and even competition for it to adapt. The body repairs and strengthens itself during this time out period – muscles add up (or enlarge) fibers, additional neurons get recruited, and the capacity of your heart and lungs improve. Apart from the physiological, this principle also allows for psychological adaptations.

     

    powerful recovery

     

    Exercise or any physical work damages and breaks down the tissues in our bodies, and intense activity depletes energy stores. Overtraining and not giving the body enough time to repair these tissues and replenish lost energy would then be detrimental to training and might even result to injury. There are times that we can get too hyped up to work out, join races weekly, and cause our body to be overtrained. Remember that Recovery is as important as training – it is during the Recovery period that your body gets stronger and adapts to the stress of training.

  • Applying these Principles of Training definitely helped me improve my strength and performance in my sport. I was able to know if I’m doing too little or too much, and which exercises and type of training would be the best for my sport. Considering these things is important in making an effective training program and achieving fitness and athletic goals.

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