10 Components of Fitness

The 10 Components of Fitness

 The 10 Components of Fitness:

The way to 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, he 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”.

The 10 Components of Fitness are:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Stamina
  • Strength 
  • Power
  • Agility
  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Accuracy 

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 the CrossFit competitions must excel in all the components of fitness in order to stand a chance at winning such contests. Which 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 terms, so you have a clear understanding of how to train, measure and score yourself in each component.

#1 Cardiovascular Endurance 

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 that are being used. Oxygen is required for the heart, lungs and muscles to work continuously over a long period of time. A classic example where this component of fitness is of prime importance is in Ultra Marathons or Marathons in general. Good cardiovascular endurance is needed to successfully practice in such sports.

How to train it?

To exercise your heart, you need to elevate your heart rate, within safe levels, and maintain it for a period of 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 of the ways you can train to improve your cardiovascular endurance, one of the primary components of fitness.

How to measure it?

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

#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.

A bit similar to cardiovascular endurance, but this component is specific more to the muscles itself, 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 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 a 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, train by keeping those specific movements in mind.

How to Measure it?

During college, we underwent some training with the public services, military, fire services and police force. In order to pass the entry requirements, the recruits were required to clear different tasks which tested the various components of fitness. For testing the muscular endurance, the tasks performed were similar to the ones we use at the gym today.

The muscles need to be pushed to the extreme to check how efficient it is at utilizing 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.

#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 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 in order 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 a great program for strength training that has been around for decades.

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 are able to 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.

#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 boxing.

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 training and start doing sprints and weight box. That’s just a direct route to injury. It should, therefore, be only done under the guidance of an experienced coach in order to avoid conditions such as overtraining

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.

#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 train it?

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 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.

#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. Isn’t just about how fast you can move but also the acceleration, as in 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.

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, Every minute on the minute (EMOM) drills etc can help improve speed. Some of the benefits of martial arts also help in increasing movement speed.

How to Measure it?

There are various 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.

#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 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 can include a mobility program in your workout routine. Increased flexibility is also one of the many benefits of practising yoga

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.

#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? 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 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.

How to Measure it?

https://www.topendsports.com/fitness/bosu-ball.htm

#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 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.

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.

#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?

The 11th Component of Fitness?

There are many folks out there, including experts, who 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. There is no specific way to train your body into having good body composition. Which 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 what is 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 very helpful to take the guidance of a good trainer in order to avoid common fitness mistakes. If you have doubts or any personal experience on 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!

Krix Luther Administrator
Krix Luther is a Health and Fitness Specialist and one of Asia’s leading Personal Trainers. If you are interested in training with him you can join him on his Fitness & Yoga Holiday Program in Phuket, Thailand.
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Krix Luther Administrator
Krix Luther is a Health and Fitness Specialist and one of Asia’s leading Personal Trainers. If you are interested in training with him you can join him on his Fitness & Yoga Holiday Program in Phuket, Thailand.

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