Components of Physical Fitness
Let’s take a look at the five components of physical fitness:
How flexible you are will determine the ease with which you will perform basic everyday muscular and joint movements. Most of us do not place this too high on our list of most important components of physical fitness. However, as we age it becomes more important and beneficial.
This is certainly one of those very relevant fitness components which is of high value for people of both genders and of all ages. Cardio endurance is basically the ability of our heart, lungs and blood vessels to deliver oxygen to our muscles and tissues. It also includes the ability of muscles and tissues to utilize that oxygen.
Thus, if are cardio-fit your lung capacity will be bigger, your heart will pump stronger and your blood vessels will be unclogged (no fat on inner walls) and thus your “performance” will be better. Think of it as your own nature-given turbocharger.
On the other hand, if you smoke and don’t eat right chances are you will have excess weight and your blood vessels will simply be clogged-up with fat, nicotine and a myriad of other substances, all which will prevent your heart and lungs from delivering the right amount of blood and oxygen to where it is needed. Thus, this is one of the components of physical fitness that is crucial to our overall health.
This essentially means how many repetitions you can do of a given exercise if you are weightlifting or how fast you get fatigued when doing an activity.
Of course we all feel, or get, fatigued when performing an exercise, the only difference being that some of us get fatigued sooner than others.
It goes without saying that this is one of those components of physcial fitness that is directly related to cardio endurance.
Muscle fibers are very strong. Think of them as nature’s version of carbon-fiber. Hence, for people doing weightlifting muscle strength basically means how much weight you can lift at one time.
This is usually very high on the list of components of physical fitness for anyone doing any kind of weightlifting.
Body (Fat) Composition
This is probably one of the components of physical fitness that generates the most interest and discussion. Body fat composition shows the ratio of fat in your body to lean muscle mass. Generally speaking if your fat percentage is lower than 10% that means you are in pretty good shape and do not have much body fat on you at all.
If you are between 10% and 15% you are still good shape. To learn about ways to measure body fat click on the preceeding link.
By comparison, to give you a “feel” for these numbers I will give you some examples of well-known athletes (when they were in their prime) and what body fat percentages they had. Michael Jordan at his peak was under 5% body fat; Mike Tyson was also under 5%. Top level bodybuilders like Jay Cutler have around 3 to 4% body fat when they ready for a show. Thus, you get my point. Most of us will never even flirt with fewer than 5% body fat.
The national average for North America is high 20’s for women and mid 20’s for men. This is not to be confused with obesity rates. So think about this for a moment: if your weight is 200lbs (90kg) and you have 20% fat on you that means that you have 40lbs (18kg) of deadweight on you. Deadweight means it does nothing for you other than make things difficult for you and your muscles and skeletal system not to mention your internal system.
Think of it as having a backpack full of rocks on your back while hiking. Doctors and fitness experts will tell you that we need body fat and they are right – we do! We need thin layers of fat to provide “cushions” between internal organs and we also need fat as part of our metabolism. Just keep in mind the range you want to be in.
From experience you will know how you look and feel when you have 15% body fat, how you look and feel at 10% body fat.
When I was in college I remember being about 175lbs (78kg) and I had 6% body fat. I was super defined but I felt “too small” in terms of size.
For guys, we like looking bigger. Now, at 200lbs (90kg) and about 12% body fat I look much better in my opinion.
I have the thickness and size with just enough definition to show separation between my muscles and bring out the “details”.
My point being is, that you shouldn’t pay too much attention to tables and charts or “expert’s” advice which tells you what your “ideal” size or body fat percentage should be.
Instead, you should gauge your own ideal numbers based on experience. Experience of being at different weights in your life. You will know when you hit that “optimal” weight where you look and feel just right!
This is something that will take some time to figure out. You may need to try different workouts and might have to adjust your diet a few times. However, the end result will be well worth it and rewarding.
Finally, all of the above health related fitness components have different meanings to different people. If you are a guy like me you will probably place more importance on the muscular components and body fat composition.
If you are a pro-athlete you might be looking at all of the above components to be of great importance. If you are a skinny guy you might be interested in the two muscular components only and more specifically in intense bodybuilding workouts to build mass.
The point is that every one of us has different fitness needs and goals. Components of physical fitness will have different importance value and priority to different people. I personally have never had the need to be freakishly flexible for example. I don’t think its something that will classify me as physically “unfit” should I have below average flexibility.
Thus, types of fitness training will depend on our desired goals as well as other factors such as age, time constraints and physical abilities. Know which components of physical fitness you need to work on and pick your workouts accordingly.
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