What is 'Fitness?'

Many people aspire to be ‘fitter’. Few of them actually understand what that means.

Lets look at two athletes at the top of their game.

First is Eliud Kipchoge, first place in the London Marathon 2015.

Second is Eddie Hall, who has the world record deadlift at 463kg.

Who do you think is fitter?

I put the question towards 100 people and the vast majority said Eliud Kipchoge.

The correct answer depends on the way you look at it.

Fitness is defined asThe ability to accomplish a task.’

With that in mind, Eliud Kipchoge is fitter than Eddie Hall at running just over 26 miles and Eddie Hall is fitter than Eliud Kipchoge at picking up really heavy weights.

Too many people associate fitness with how far people can run. Its certainly a component, but there is so much more. Infact, there are 10 components in total. To show ability in either component would classify you as ‘fit.’

They are as follows.

Cardiovascular / respiratory endurance

The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen. The better your cardiovascular endurance is, the more you can delay that ‘out of breath’ feeling.

Stamina 

The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilise energy. The more stamina you have, the more you can delay the feeling that your muscles are giving up or can go no further.

Strength 

The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force. if you improve your strength, then you can apply more force. This results in your weights and/or repetitions going up in a given exercise.

Power 

The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time. To be more powerful, you would see improvements in short bursts of activity such as one rep max tests, or sprint tests.

Flexibility

The ability to maximise the range of motion at a given joint. Flexibility is a route to injury prevention and increase in strength/power potential.

Balance

The ability to control the placement of the body’s centre of gravity in relation to its support base. Think of a gymnast on the beam or doing a handstand. The better the balance, the longer they can hold these positions or the more complex the positions can become.

 A great example of both flexibility and balance

A great example of both flexibility and balance

Speed

The ability to minimise the time cycle of a repeated movement. This one speaks for itself. The faster you are, the fitter you are.

Coordination

The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement. A rugby player will co-ordinate to make a tackle. The more co-ordinated they are, the quicker and more efficient they are in executing it.

Agility 

The ability to minimise transition time from one movement pattern to another. This would improve the ability to quickly change direction or go from running to jumping etc.

Accuracy

The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity. This can result in a boxer throwing a punch and hitting their target (likely a jaw or nose) or throwing a ball into someones hands.

Some sports/exercises/events require ability in just one of the components. For example,  a dart player needs little more than Accuracy. Other sports require multiple components. Usian Bolt needs speed and power for a 100m sprint. Then we have someone like a cage fighter who will require damn near all of them!

 Power, Co-ordination, Accuracy and Balance to land a clean kick to the face!

Power, Co-ordination, Accuracy and Balance to land a clean kick to the face!


So you may not be able to run a marathon, but that doesn’t mean you aren't fit. You may display great competency in any of the other components. Fitness is such a general term that you need to be specific when saying something along the lines of ‘I want to be fitter!’

If you have a performance related goal, have a think about your goal and the components it requires and work on them. Address any components that you are weakest at in order to get the most efficient results.