Are you fit? 5 Components of Fitness

5 Components of Fitness


Physical fitness is the ability of the body to function and perform daily chores comfortably and effectively and also handling extra emergencies and stress. We all have heard the importance of staying fit and healthy. Some people dream of having a lean body, some may want a muscular physique while some people just want to lose weight and stay fit. However, as many people presume fitness to be related to appearance, fitness isn't defined by the physique. To define fitness there are five components of fitness which are muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and body fat composition.

1. Muscular Strength


Muscular strength is defined by the power an individual possesses to lift and carry heavy objects. It is simply the amount of force a muscle can produce. Without muscular strength, the body would not be considered fit as it would not able to fulfill the daily demands because of weakness.

Muscular strength is muscle group-specific. You may have seen that some people have strong arms but weak legs. Some people complain about back pain. Muscular strength is clearly dependent on your training routine or fitness goals. Some people target for more muscular strength in specific muscle group while some people target for overall strength increase. You may have noticed that gym trainers assign specific days for a particular muscle group. This is because targeting a specific muscle group for longer periods of time does not only increase muscular strength but also increases muscular endurance. Again muscular strength is goal-specific fitness training.

How to improve muscular strength 


While focusing on increasing fitness, there are several ways to increase muscular strength. One should increase the weight in the workout routine. The heavier the weight training the more muscular strength develops. Try increasing the weights on every exercise slowly and gradually and reducing the reps. Your body muscles will develop the strength to perform these exercises over some period of time. 

One of the best ways to increase muscular strength is through resistance training. Normally this would include 8-10 reps of 4-6 sets, reaching breakdown till the last set. The resting periods between sets should be one to two minutes maximum. 

Examples of muscular strength

Examples would be bicep curl, leg press, or bench press.

Muscular strength test 

A common test to measure muscular strength is weightlifting and anaerobic exercises like bench press, biceps curls, shoulder press, or leg press. Push-ups can be a direct test for muscular strength. The more number of push-ups you can perform the more fitness is achieved. There are a variety of push up techniques to develop various muscle groups. 

2. Muscular Endurance


Endurance is the ability of muscles to perform contractions for extended periods of time. It is simply the ability of the muscles to perform continuously without fatigue. Muscular endurance is a key component of fitness level as it determines the ability of a muscle group to contract continuously against a given resistance. 

Muscular endurance just like muscular strength is targeting a specific muscle group. You can develop more muscular endurance in a particular muscle as compared to other muscles. For example, a cyclist develops high levels of muscular endurance in legs. Therefore the level of muscular endurance is goal specific. You can build higher levels of muscular endurance in particular muscles group according to your own personal fitness goals.

How to improve Muscular endurance

There are several ways in which muscular endurance can be increased.  Train with light weights and maximize reps. This will train the muscle fibers to work for extended periods of time.

One of the best ways to increase muscular endurance is to focus on lighter weights of 4-5 sets and 15-20 reps. Muscular endurance increases by aerobic activities that challenge your heart and lungs. 

Example of Muscular Endurance

Examples would be elliptical machines, cycling, or step machines.

Muscular Endurance test

There are many ways to test the level of muscular endurance 

Dynamic test

These tests involve the ability of a muscle group to repeat contractions. For example, the number of sit-ups a person can perform in a certain amount of time. The more number of sit-ups you can perform the more is your muscular endurance.  

Static test 

These involve the ability of a muscle group to sustain contractions for a longer period of time. For example, a plank exercise, to hold yourself in a contraction position for longer periods of time. The longer you can sustain the position, the more is your muscular endurance. 


3. Cardiovascular Endurance


Fitness involves developing the overall strength and endurance of the body, which includes our cardiovascular system as well. Cardiovascular endurance ( also known as cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic fitness) is the development of the body's cardiovascular system including lungs, heart, blood vessels to keep up with exercises for longer periods of time. The heart and lungs need to provide oxygen and fuel to the body during exercises or sustained workloads.  Cardiovascular endurance is determined by how effectively and efficiently the oxygen is taken inside the body and delivered to various organs and tissues. 

How to improve Cardiovascular endurance

One of the best ways to increase cardiovascular endurance is to train at or near your lactate threshold ( it is the point where the body starts producing metabolic waste faster than it can remove it). This means working out at around 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. 

Examples of Cardiovascular Endurance

Examples would be jogging, dancing, boxing, running, cycling, and swimming.

Cardiovascular Endurance test

The Cooper Run test

This test assesses the cardiovascular endurance of an individual. This test was devised by Dr. Keneth Cooper in 1968. It is a simple field test in which the participant has to run as far as possible for 12 minutes. Then the distance covered is used to estimate the person's maximal aerobic capacity. 

The step test

This is another test for assessing the cardiovascular endurance of an individual. In this test, the participant has to step up and down, on and off an aerobics type step machine for three minutes. With this, the participant's heart rate is elevated and is used to evaluate the heart's recovery rate. 

4. Flexibility


When you are focusing on strengthening your fitness levels by increasing your muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance another factor is also equally important which is flexibility. You may have noticed that almost all gym trainers ask you to warm up and do stretching exercises before carrying out any workout plans. Flexibility training focuses on the movement of muscles and joints to the full range of motion to resist stiffness and cramps. 

As we have seen muscular endurance and muscular strength are muscle group-specific, similarly flexibility is joint-specific. For example, a person could have flexible shoulders but not flexible legs. 

Flexibility determines a person's fitness and is crucial for unhindered movement, agility, balance, and coordination. Improving flexibility around joints decreases the risk of injuries and increases athletic performance. 

How to improve flexibility

One of the ways to improve flexibility is to perform your workouts with proper form and a full range of motion. Start your workout plans with stretching exercises for 8-10 minutes, focusing on stretching all joints to full extremes.  

Example of Flexibility

Examples would be stretching individual muscles

Flexibility test 

A person's flexibility can be tested with simple exercises.

Stand and reach test

There are several ways to test your flexibility levels. Stand in a straight position, raise your arms straight in the air, lean forward, and try touching your toes. The more easily you can touch your feet, the more flexible you are.

Sit and reach test

Another way to test flexibility is to sit with your legs straight, bend, and try reaching your toes. The easier you can reach your feet, the more flexible you are.

5. Body Fat Composition


The fifth component of fitness is Body fat composition. Body fat composition is the amount of fat mass as compared to the lean muscle mass of an individual. Body fat composition is basically the amount of fat on your body. Men must have a body fat composition lower than 17 percent whereas women must have a body fat composition lower than 24 percent.

We all know the demerits of fat or unhealthy weight gain and the health problems associated with it. Therefore a lot of training programs are first designed to reduce fat or weight loss. 

How to improve Body fat composition


When you are working on the other four components of fitness that is muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility, at the same time you are reducing fat. The overall result is improved body fat composition.

The fat composition is reduced by taking care of a number of other factors as well which includes a healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables of high nutritional content, lean protein, and whole grains. Remove oily junk foods from your diet. 

The most effective workout plan for improving fat body compositions is high-intensity training, strength training and low-intensity cardio training. 

Body Fat Composition Test

To measure your body fat composition, there are several tests like underwater weighing, skinfold readings, and bioelectrical impedance. Among these the underwater weighing test is the best, however this test is very expensive and is impractical for everybody. Other methods to measure body fat composition include skinfold readings using skinfold calipers or electrostatic measurements.


Conclusion


Did you know that fitness was much more than just your body appearance? We have studied all the five components of fitness, their examples, how to test the level of each fitness component, and also the ways to improve each component. Our fitness programs should concentrate on developing and improving all the five components of fitness which are muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and body fat composition.

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