The Components of Fitness

The Components of Fitness
Exercise scientists have identified nine components that comprise the definition of fitness. The following lists each of the nine components and an example of how they are used:-

  • Strength - the extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (e.g. holding or restraining an object or person)
  • Power - the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements (e.g. jumping or a sprint start)
  • Agility - the ability to perform a series of explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions (e.g. ZigZag running or cutting movements)
  • Balance - the ability to control the body's position, either stationary (e.g. a handstand) or while moving (e.g. a gymnastics stunt)
  • Flexibility - the ability to achieve an extended range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, i.e. fat or muscle (e.g. executing a leg split)
  • Local Muscle Endurance - a single muscle's ability to perform sustained work (e.g. rowing or cycling)
  • Cardiovascular Endurance - the heart's ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it (e.g. running long distances)
  • Strength Endurance - a muscle's ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time (e.g. continuous explosive rebounding through an entire basketball game)
  • Co-ordination- the ability to integrate the above listed components so that effective movements are achieved.

The common definition is the ability to exert a force against a resistance. The strength needed for a sprinter to explode from the blocks is different to the strength needed by a weight lifter to lift a 200kg barbell. This therefore implies that there are different types of strength.
What are the classifications of strength?
The classifications of strength are:

  • Maximum strength -the greatest force that is possible in a single maximum contraction
  • Elastic strength - the ability to overcome a resistance with a fast contraction
  • Strength endurance - the ability to express force many times over

How do we get strong?

A muscle will only strengthen when it is worked beyond its normal operation it is overloaded. Overload can be progressed by increasing the:

  • number of repetitions of an exercise
  • number of sets of the exercise
  • intensity - reduced recover time

How do we develop strength?

  • Maximum strength can be developed with :
    • weight training
  • Elastic strength can be developed with :
    • conditioning exercises
    • complex training sessions
    • medicine ball exercises
    • plyometric exercises
    • weight training
  • Strength endurance can be developed with :
    • circuit training
    • dumbbell exercises
    • weight training
    • hill and harness running

Power is rate of performing work. It is a measure of how much energy is created in each second that passes, the size of the force applied and the velocity at which it is applied.
Power {(Force × Distance) ÷ Time} represents the product of strength and speed of movement expressed in Watts. Where Force is measured in Newton’s (1kg=10N), the Distance in meters and Time in seconds.
One Watt=0.73756 ft/lb/sec, 6.12 kg/m/min, 0.01433  kcal/min
An 80 kg athlete can run up a set of stairs, vertical height 3 meters, in 1.5 seconds

  • Force = 800 N (80 x 10), Distance = 3 meters, Time = 1.5 seconds
  • Energy = 800 x 3 = 2400 joules
  • Power = Energy (joules) ÷ Time (seconds)
  • Power = 2400 ÷ 1.5 = 1600 watts

Agility is the ability to change the direction of the body in an efficient and effective manner and to achieve this you require a combination of:

  • Balance
    • The ability to maintain equilibrium when stationary or moving (i.e. not to fall over) through the co-ordinated actions of our sensory functions (eyes, ears and the proprioceptive organs in our joints)
    • Static Balance - ability to retain the centre of mass above the base of support in a stationary position
    • Dynamic Balance - ability to maintain balance under changing conditions of body movement
  • Speed
    • the ability to move all or part of the body quickly
  • Strength
    • the ability of a muscle or muscle group to overcome a resistance
  • Co-ordination
    • the ability to control the movement of the body in co-operation with the body's sensory functions e.g. catching a ball (ball, hand and eye co-ordination)

How do we improve agility?
We can improve our agility by improving the component parts of agility (listed above) and practicing the movements in training.
Flexibility - Mobility
Flexibility, mobility and suppleness all mean the range of limb movement around joints.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability to perform a joint action through a range of movement
Why do flexibility exercises?
The objective of flexibility training is to improve the range of stretch of the antagonistic muscles.
What are the benefits?
Flexibility plays an important part in the preparation of athletes by developing a range of movement to allow technical development and assisting in the prevention of injury.
How will I know if I am stretching properly?
When you perform a stretch correctly, you will feel mild discomfort in the antagonistic muscles. If you feel pain or a stabbing sensation, you must STOP.
What do I need to consider before conducting flexibility exercises?
The body responds best to a stretching program when it is warm and the muscles and joints have been exercised through their current range of movement.
What types of flexibility exercises are there?
The various techniques of stretching may be grouped as Static, Ballistic, Dynamic, Active, Passive, Isometric and Assisted.
Static stretching
Static stretching involves gradually easing into the stretch position and holding the position. The amount of time a static stretch is held may be anything from 6 seconds to 2 minutes. Often in static stretching, you are advised to move further into the stretch position as the stretch sensation subsides.
Ballistic stretching
Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion.
Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you gently to the limits of your range of motion.
Where the event requires a dynamic movement then it is appropriate and perhaps necessary to conduct dynamic stretching exercises. Start with the movement at half speed for a couple of repetitions and then gradually work up to full speed.
Active stretching
An active stretch is one where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles. Active stretching is also referred to as static-active stretching.
Passive stretching
Passive stretching is also referred to as relaxed stretching, and as static-passive stretching. A passive stretch is one where you assume a position and hold it with some other part of your body, or with the assistance of a partner or some other apparatus.
Isometric stretching
Isometric stretching is a type of static stretching which involves the resistance of muscle groups through isometric contractions (tensing) of the stretched muscles.
Which method is best?
Static methods produce far fewer instances of muscle soreness, injury and damage to connective tissues than dynamic or ballistic methods. Static methods are simple to carry out and may be conducted virtually anywhere. For maximum gains in flexibility in the shortest possible time PNF technique is the most appropriate. Dynamic - slowed controlled movements through the full range of the motion - will reduce muscle stiffness. Where the technique requires ballistic movement then ballistic stretches should be employed.
What order should the flexibility methods be used?
When conducting flexibility exercises it is recommended to perform them in the following order - Static, Assisted and then Dynamic.
When should they be performed?
Flexibility exercises could be part of

  • the warm up or cool down program
  • a standalone unit of work

It is considered beneficial to conduct flexibility exercises as part of the cool down program but should not include ballistic or dynamic exercises, as the muscles are fatigued and more prone to injury. Static exercises are recommended as they relax the muscles and increase their range of movement.
Flexibility program
All athletes require a basic level of general all round flexibility to allow them to benefit from other forms of training. In addition, athletes will need to develop specific flexibility for those joint actions involved in the techniques of their events or sports.
Endurance Training
What is the objective of endurance training?
The objective of endurance training is to develop the energy production system(s) to meet the demands of the event.
What types of endurance are there?
The types of endurance are aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, speed endurance and strength endurance. A sound basis of aerobic endurance is fundamental for all events.
Aerobic Endurance
Aerobic means 'with oxygen'. During aerobic work, the body is working at a level that the demands for oxygen and fuel can be meet by the body's intake. The only waste products formed are carbon dioxide and water. These are removed as sweat and by breathing out.
Aerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Short aerobic - 2 minutes to 8 minutes (lactic/aerobic)
  • Medium aerobic - 8 minutes to 30 minutes (mainly aerobic)
  • Long aerobic - 30 minutes + (aerobic)

Aerobic endurance is developed using continuous and interval running.

  • Continuous duration runs to improve maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max)
  • Interval training to improve the heart as a muscular pump

Anaerobic endurance
Anaerobic means 'without oxygen'. During anaerobic work, involving maximum effort, the body is working so hard that the demands for oxygen and fuel exceed the rate of supply and the muscles have to rely on the stored reserves of fuel.
Anaerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:

  • Short anaerobic - less than 25 seconds
  • Medium anaerobic - 25 seconds to 60 seconds
  • Long anaerobic - 60 seconds to 120 seconds anaerobic endurance can be developed by using repetition methods of relatively high intensity work with limited recovery.

Speed endurance
Speed endurance is used to develop the co-ordination of muscle contraction. Repetition methods are used with a high number of sets, low number of repetitions per set and intensity greater than 85% with distances covered from 60% to 120% of racing distance. Competition and time trials can be used in the development of speed endurance.
Strength endurance
Strength endurance is used to develop the athlete's capacity to maintain the quality of their muscles' contractile force. All athletes need to develop a basic level of strength endurance. Examples of activities to develop strength endurance are - circuit training, weight training, hill running, harness running, fartlek etc.