The 10 Components of Fitness

10 components of fitness

Table Of Contents

  • What are they?

  • Where do they come from?

The 10 Components of Fitness are:

  • Cardiovascular

  • Stamina

  • Strength

  • Power

  • Agility

  • Speed

  • Flexibility

  • Balance

  • Coordination

  • Accuracy

10 Components of Fitness: Unleash your full potential!

If I were to ask a random stranger “Who do you think is the fittest person in the world?”, they’re answer would invariably be pointed at tri-athletes, marathon runners, or “Iron Men”. 80% of the time fitness is associated with endurance-type sports like the ones mentioned earlier. So is endurance the most important of all the components of fitness?

But then that begs the question, isn’t an Olympic lifter not fit enough? What about the guy who can deadlift 500kg? How about the Gymnast with all that agility, flexibility, and coordination. Do they not qualify as very fit? The world-record-holding 100-meter sprinter, Hussain Bolt, probably couldn’t do a Triathlon. Does that mean he is not fit enough? Of course, they are. That is because there are many more components of fitness than the standard 1 or 2 (strength and cardiovascular), which the general public perceives as “Fitness”.

Maybe strength and cardiovascular levels are very important components of fitness that serve a certain purpose. However, the other 8 components of fitness are just as important when considering overall fitness. And as a personal trainer, there is nothing I want more than for my clients to have a good all-round average of all the 10 components of fitness.

Where do the 10 components of fitness come from?

To be honest, I’m not very sure where these components of fitness originated from. Researching on the internet doesn’t help much either. What you get is the different breakdown of the different components of fitness. Some places mention 8, whereas some mention 11 components of fitness. The 11th one is usually about the body composition of the individual. Personally, I believe body composition is just the result of having a good overall average of each of the other components of fitness and not a component by itself.

I had heard about the different components of fitness during my studies. However, it wasn’t until I saw the Reebok CrossFit competitions that I finally got to grips with what they meant. Reebok had fully tweaked and tailored their contest to involve and test all 10 components of fitness as equally as possible. An athlete participating in CrossFit competitions must excel in all the components of fitness in order to stand a chance at winning such contests. This is why the person who does win the CrossFit competition gets crowned as “The Fitness Person OF The World”. It sure does sound a bit arrogant at first. However, if you study the different components of fitness, it actually makes perfect sense.

In order to get a better understanding, I have given below a breakdown of the 10 components of fitness. I have explained each one in layman’s terms, so you have a clear understanding of how to train, measure, and score yourself in each component.


The ability of the body’s system to gather, process and deliver oxygen.

Cardiovascular endurance determines the efficiency with which your body delivers oxygen to different parts, especially to the muscles used. Oxygen is required for the heart, lungs, and muscles to work continuously over a long period. A classic example where this component of fitness is of prime importance is in Ultra Marathons or Marathons in general. Therefore, good cardiovascular endurance is needed to practice successfully in such sports.

How to measure it?

VO2 Max is one of the most valid ways to measure a person’s aerobic fitness level. To measure your cardiovascular endurance level, you will first be required to exercise till exhaustion. During this period, your oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production, and air volume are measured using a piece of high-tech equipment. This gives you a reading on where you stand for this fitness component.

How to train it?

To exercise your heart, you need to elevate your heart rate within safe levels and maintain it for some time. This causes the heart to pump more blood, which delivers fresh oxygen throughout the body. Sports or exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc., are some ways you can train to improve your cardiovascular endurance, one of the primary components of fitness.


Hypoxic Mask

#2 Muscular Endurance (Stamina)

The ability of the body’s systems to process, deliver, store and utilize energy.

Muscular endurance refers to how good your body is at breaking down stored energy like Fat or Glycogen. These act as fuel which is required by the muscles to execute any exercise or physical activity. Muscular endurance comes into play if you need to check how many reps of a single exercise you can do without needing to rest in between.

Similar to cardiovascular endurance. However, stamina is more specific to the muscles themselves rather than the efficiency of the heart and lungs. Muscular endurance is one of the components of fitness that is complementary to muscular power and strength. And for those wondering, here is the difference between stamina and endurance.

How to Measure it?

I underwent some training with the public services, military, fire services, police force etc. To pass the entry requirements, recruits were required to clear different tasks that tested the various fitness components. For testing muscular endurance, the tasks performed were similar to those we use at the gym today.

The muscles need to be pushed to the extreme to check how efficient it is at utilising energy. For this, the test evaluates how many push-ups and sit-ups the participant could do in 2 minutes and how long can they do a wall squat. If a male can do 35 full push-ups and a female can do 13, then that is an excellent level of muscular endurance. Similarly, for a wall squat, if a male can hold the position for 103 seconds and a female for 60 seconds, then their muscular endurance or stamina component of fitness score is pretty high.

How to train it?

Muscular endurance is very localised and, I believe, can be movement specific. Here’s an example, as an ex-professional Thai Boxer, I could jump in the ring with my trainer and smash out 5×3 minute rounds on the pad. It will tire me, but I won’t be exhausted. It’s the same with doing some heavyweight sessions or even when in a CrossFit class. I can keep up with the best in there. 

But, when I’d gone to the UK on holiday and offered to help a friend in his construction business for a couple of days, just for fun, I had another thing coming! Being a ‘fit’ guy, he had me digging, pick axing and shovelling the ground. I got tired pretty quickly, while he seemed to be able to do it for hours! He then showed me how to do some plastering, and my shoulders and arms were on fire! My friend, on the other hand, could do the entire ceiling without breaking a sweat.

For this type of work, he had much better muscular strength than me. When it comes to boxIng, I was better. But, with plastering etc., I wasn’t so good.  That is why I believe muscular endurance is not just muscle-specific but movement specific as well. So, if you want to improve your muscular endurance for a particular sport or activity, then I would recommend training with those specific movements in mind. Below is an excellent book by Brian MacKenzie and Glen Cordoza, talking about skill-based endurance for sports. I would highly recommend it.

Increase your Endurance

Best Book On Endurance Training!

#3 Strength

The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force in a single contraction.

Muscular strength is one of the most popular components of fitness. Muscles can be strengthened by focussing on lifting more weights and fewer repetitions. Muscular strength is the maximum force a muscle can produce in a single contraction, also known as the one-rep max. 

How to measure it?

A good way to measure strength is to check your body weight to strength ratio. It is similar to how Olympic Lifting competitions have different weight categories. The concept is simple. Say 2 guys can, clean and jerk, 200 kg. However, one of them weighs 120kg, while the other weighs 75 kg. Who do you think is stronger? If you can perform 1 rep max of 1.5 times your body weight on the bench press and 2 times your body weight on the deadlift and squat, then you’re looking at some good results.

How to train it?

Here’s a fair warning. Strength training is not for beginners. It is one of those components of fitness that you have to work up towards. Most personal trainers will put you in a loading phase before working on strength. This is very important to avoid injuries.

However, what if you don’t have a personal trainer and want to begin strength training? Then it is best to go with a reliable system that has been tried and tested for a while. The 5 by 5 workout routine is an excellent program for strength training that has been around for decades. I have recommended 2 products that might help you with your strength training below. One is Ebook for beginners, and the other is one of the most overlooked aspects of strength training, Grip strength. Your body is only as strong as its weakest link, and usually, peoples grip is one of them. Buy a couple of grip strength handles, you could be using them now whilst you read this article.

Beginners Guide Strength Training

Ultimate Grip Strength

#4 Power

The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

If Strength is the maximum force that can be produced by the muscles, then power is the speed at which this force can be applied. Power is the key component for explosive exercises such as the start of a sprint, jumping or clean, jerk and snatch. Power is also critical for success in many sports such as weightlifting or combat activities like Thai Boxing.

How to measure it?

Power is one of those components of fitness that can be measured through a lot of exercises that are dynamic and explosive. A standing squat jump, a push press or just how fast someone can sprint up a flight of stairs are some examples of such exercises. But the easiest way would be to do the Squat Jump Test.

To do the Squat Jump Test, simply stand in front of a wall with a pen or marker in your hand. Raise your hand above your head whilst keeping your feet firmly flat on the floor. Now mark the wall with the pen. Now get into the squat position and from there jump as high as you can, reach out with your hand and mark the wall. The distance between the 1 marks will give you a measurement of your power. You can take this one step further and try this test with one leg, to see if there is a significant difference in power in both legs.

How to train it?

Power training is usually very sport-specific. There are specific processes to training for power. You cannot simply get up and decide tomorrow to start doing explosive training and bust out a load of sprints and weight box jumps. That’s just a direct route to the hospital and a long term injury. It should, therefore, be only done under the guidance of an experienced coach in order to avoid conditions such as overtraining. Men’s Health actually did a good ebook on explosive training, if you’re interested in learning how to train it, get the book.

Epic Book on Training Explosive Power

Want More Power?

#5 Agility

The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

Good agility also requires you to be good at other components of fitness as well, such as flexibility, balance, coordination and speed. It can, therefore, be improved through training drills specifically designed to address agility. Agility can also be improved by working on the other related components of fitness mentioned above.

How to Measure it?

Agility is one of the most essential components of fitness. It is required to perform a lot of fitness movements and exercises correctly. Hence, there are a variety of tests that can be used to measure someone’s agility. 

Since all sports require a good level of agility there are agility tests specific to NFL, Cricket Basketball, Football etc. There is even an agility test especially made for the elderly, known as the 8 foot up and go test. But the test typically used for the general public is the Illinois Agility Run.

How to train it?

There are quite a few ways to train agility, ladder drills, lateral running drills, L drills, shuttle runs etc. The main thing you have to think about when doing agility training is that you training in all 3 planes of motion. You should do this in drills that work them individually and drills that incorporate all 3. Below I listed some recommended agility training equipment on amazon that you can buy. I like agility training because its something you can do at home, its fun and you can make fitness games with the drills.

Agility Training Kit

Shuffle Agility Kit

#6 Speed

The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

Speed is one of the components of fitness that comes into play with every movement. It can be the hand speed when throwing punches or the leg speed when sprinting. It isn’t just about how fast you can move but also the acceleration. Example, how quickly you can begin the movement from a stationary position, and also how long you can maintain that speed. Thus speed also requires that your muscular endurance, strength and power components of fitness be pretty good as well. But that’s just physical speed, when we talk about speed as a whole, there is anticipation speed, recognition speed, reaction speed and so on. 

How to Measure it?

There are various ways to measure speed. For example, a speed gun can help measure your sprinting speed. However, since there are multiple types of speed, testing for it will have to be specific to the particular sport you are training in.

How to train it?

Speed requires a lot of muscle conditioning in order to both increase your maximum speed and also to maintain that speed. To achieve this, it is helpful to keep the rest periods in between sets to a minimum. Sprint drills, HIIT training drills etc can help improve speed. Some of the benefits of martial arts also help in increasing movement speed. 


Speed Reaction Lights

Resistance Parachute

#7 Flexibility

The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

Among the 10 components of fitness, Flexibility is a very essential one. It is needed not just to enhance performance, but also to reduce the risk of injury. And flexibility isn’t just about the range of motion on a given joint. It is also important where a group of joints are concerned. Even during passive movements, where no muscle activation is involved in holding a joint in a stretch, good flexibility is essential.

Good flexibility gives you a good range of motion. This allows you to assume natural positions easily, which helps maintain good posture. As we age our joints tend to stiffen up preventing us from doing even everyday tasks. Training for good flexibility can prevent such joint-related issues. It’s simple logic – better flexibility allows your limbs to move further or deeper into a stretch without causing injury. Good flexibility also ensures you are training in all 3 planes of motion, which is required for maintaining good overall physical fitness.

How to Measure it?

There is no one test to check overall flexibility, because of the many joints in the human body. However different stretches can be tried to check the flexibility level around those joints. One of the simplest would be the ‘sit and reach test’, where you just sit on the floor and try reaching your toes. The more flexible you are, the closer you will reach your toe.

How to train it?

Consistently training and stretching helps improve the body’s flexibility over time. It is as easy as including a few stretches before and after a workout, or by using simple equipment such as the foam roller. If you are serious about it, you should include mobility and flexibility into your workout routine. Warm-up with mobility training before your workout, then cool down with flexibility training. Even just incorporating a weekly yoga class in your routine will do wonders for you. I am always preaching to my male clients the benefits of yoga for men.

Leg Stretcher

Leg Stretching Machine

#8 Balance

The ability to control the placement of bodies centre of gravity in relation to its support base.

Do you think you have a good balance and stability? How good are you then, at standing on one leg, on a poll… that’s on a Bosu ball? Well, that would actually be quite amazing, but jokes apart, good balance is key to not just excel in sports activities, but also to practice the various exercise movements correctly. Since it requires you to have precise control over the body’s position and movement, good balance requires good core strength as well. 

How to Measure it?

There are various ways to measure your balance, the simplest way is to stand up tall with your arms crossed over your chest. From there lift one knee up to about waist height and time how long you can last. The timer stops if you put the leg down, uncross your arms, wrap the lifted foot around the standing leg or start hoping/bouncing around. The average person should be able to do 30 seconds, 1 minute plus is good.

How to train it?

Balance can be of the static or dynamic type. That is, maintaining equilibrium while stationary or while moving. It is a very complex skill that we develop using many senses such as visual, audio, touch etc. Which is why, as we grow older, and our senses weaken, so does our balance. Even simple exercises such as walking, running, climbing stairs etc. help to improve balance. Since core strength is essential, it is important to make sure you are working out that area as well. Additional activities such as yoga and martial arts also help improve balance. 

One of the ways I improve balance is by standing on a balance board whilst working on the computer or doing something I usually sit down for. I recommend the 2 products below, the URBN fit board is the one I have. The round balance board is a lot easier, if you can’t last 30 seconds on the single-leg balance test, I would start with that one.

Best Balance Board

Balance Board With Handles

#9 Coordination

The ability to minimise transition time from one movement pattern to another. 

Even our daily activities involve multiple movements. Good coordination is about being able to smoothly execute such activities by combining multiple movement patterns into a single fluid movement. As per the different types of movement, we can classify coordination as a fine or gross motor skill. Fine motor skills are required for simple and small movements such as taking a snooker shot. Gross motor skills are required for coordination of more complicated movements such as in martial arts.

How to Measure it?

Again, since there are many types of coordination, there is no one test to measure your overall coordination level. Tests such as the ball toss only test for hand-eye coordination, it may not necessarily make you a good football player. tests for coordination need to be specific to the sport you are practising.

How to train it?

Coordination is one of those components of fitness that is primarily neurological. Coordination improves with practice and with having a good level of other components of fitness such as strength, balance, flexibility, etc. Training in sports or martial arts helps improve coordination.

Coordination Ball


#10 Accuracy

The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Accuracy is critical and essential in order to be good at any sport such as football, baseball, archery etc. Good accuracy is the ability to precisely control movement in a given direction and at a given intensity.

How to train it?

Accuracy,  like balance and coordination, is more of a neurological skill than a physical one. It is something the brain learns and adapts through repeated practice over time. That is why the only way to improve such components of fitness is practice, practice, and more practice.

How to Measure it?


Compound Bow

Boxing Reflex Ball

The 11th Component of Fitness?

Many folks out there, including experts, believe there to be 11 components of fitness. The 11th one being ‘body composition’, which is a breakdown of your body weight into fat and lean body mass or LBM for short… LBM takes into account all your muscles, bones, organ fluids etc. Unfortunately, there is no specific way to train your body into having good body composition. This is why I don’t see body composition as one of the components of fitness. Rather, it is the result of being good at all the 10 components of fitness mentioned above.

So now that you have a better understanding of fitness, who do you think is the ‘Fitness person of the world’? One who excels at one particular sport or one who displays a high level of all 10 components of fitness? If you chose the latter option, then you are on the right path. Ensure that your workout routine covers all 10 components of fitness, and you are set to excel in any physical activity that you undertake. Of course, it is beneficial to take the guidance of a good trainer to avoid common fitness mistakes. If you have doubts or any personal experience in training the various components of fitness, feel free to comment below. And if you are in Phuket, get in touch directly, and I can help clear your doubts!

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