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Components of Fitness
Tancred (1995) believes that: One of the misconceptions in the sports world is that a sports person gets in shape by just playing or taking part in his/her chosen sport. If a stationary level of performance, consistent ability in executing a few limited skills is your goal, then engaging only in your sport will keep you there. However, if you want the utmost efficiency, consistent improvement, and balanced abilities sportsmen and women must participate in year round conditioning programs. The bottom line in sports conditioning and fitness training is stress, not mental stress, but adaptive body stress. Sportsmen and women must put their bodies under a certain amount of stress (overload) to increase physical capabilities."
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its constitution of 1948 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".
Fitness is the ability to meet the demands of a physical task.
The Components of Fitness
Basic fitness can be classified in four main components: strength, speed, stamina and flexibility. However, exercise scientists have identified nine components that comprise the definition of fitness (Tancred 1995):
- 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. The two components of power are strength and speed. (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.
Of all the nine elements of fitness cardiac respiratory qualities are the most important to develop as they enhance all the other components of the conditioning equation.
Physical fitness refers to the capacity of an athlete to meet the varied physical demands of their sport without reducing the athlete to a fatigued state. The components of physical fitness are (Davis 2000):
Motor Fitness refers to the ability of an athlete to perform successfully at their sport. The components of motor fitness are (Davis 2000):
Improving your condition
Identify the most important fitness components for success in your sport or event and then design sport/event specific conditioning and training programs that will enhance these fitness components and energy systems.
The following are examples of general conditioning exercises:
- General core stability exercises
- General all round body conditioning exercises using dumbbells
- General conditioning exercises for the upper body
- General and specific leg conditioning exercises
- Specific exercises to develop lower leg strength and foot speed
Why should I exercise on a regular basis?
Not convinced on the benefits of a regular training regime then have a read of the the benefits of exercising page.
I am new to training so what should I do?
Visit the general fitness training program page to get an insight into a simple weekly training program that will help develop your general level of fitness.
Tests for fitness components
|Fitness Component||Recognised Test|
|Agility||Illinois Agility Test|
|Balance||Standing Stork Test|
|Body Composition||Skinfold measures|
|Cardiovascular Endurance||Multistage Fitness Test|
|Flexibility||Sit & Reach test|
|Muscular Endurance||NCF Abdominal Conditioning Test|
|Power||Standing Long Jump or Vertical Jump|
|Speed||30 metre Sprint|
In their research Suni et al. (1996) found that the following tests appeared to provide acceptable reliability as methods for field assessment of health related fitness for adults:
- Standing on one leg with eyes open for balance
- Side-bending of the trunk for spinal flexibility
- Modified push-ups for upper body muscular function
- Jump and reach and one leg squat for leg muscular function
- TANCRED, B. (1995) Key Methods of Sports Conditioning. Athletics Coach, 29 (2), p. 19
- DAVIS, B. et al. (2000) Training for physical fitness. In: DAVIS, B. et al. Physical Education and the study of sport. London: Harcourt Publishers, p.121-122
- SUNI, J. H. et al. (1996) Health-related fitness test battery for adults: aspects of reliability. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 77 (4), p. 399-405
The following references provide additional information on this topic:
- SALTIN, B. (1969) Physiological effects of physical conditioning. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1 (1), p. 50-56
- STRATTON, J. et al. (1991) Effects of physical conditioning on fibrinolytic variables and fibrinogen in young and old healthy adults. Circulation, 83 (5), p. 1692-1697
- BARRY, A. et al. (1966) The effects of physical conditioning on older individuals. I. Work capacity, circulatory-respiratory function, and work electrocardiogram. Journal of gerontology, 21 (2), p. 182-191
If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for this page is:
- MACKENZIE, B. (1997) Conditioning [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/conditon.htm [Accessed 11/3/2017]
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic:
- Articles on Conditioning
- Books on Fitness
- Benefits of Exercising
- Conditioning - Literature Reviews
- Core Stability
Additional Sources of Information
For further information on this topic see the following:
- BEASHEL, P. and TAYLOR, J. (1996) Advanced Studies in Physical Education and Sport. UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
- BEASHEL, P. and TAYLOR, J. (1997) The World of Sport Examined. UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
- BIZLEY, K. (1994) Examining Physical Education. Oxford; Heinemann Educational Publishers
- DAVIS, B. et al. (2000) Physical Education and the Study of Sport. UK London: Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
- GALLIGAN, F. et al. (2000) Advanced PE for Edexcel. Oxford; Heinemann Educational Publishers
- McARDLE, W. et al. (2000) Essentials of Exercise Physiology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins
- BREWER, C (2005) Strength and Conditioning for games players. UK; Coachwise Business Solution.
- CHU, D. (1996) Explosive Power and Strength. USA; Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
- BOMPA, T. and CORNACCHIA, L. (1998) Serious Strength Training. USA; Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
- DELAVIER, F. (2001) Strength Training Anatomy. USA; Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
- PAULETTO, B. (1991) Strength Training for Coaches. USA; Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
- WINCH, M. (2004) Strength Training for Athletes. UK; Stanley L. Hunt Ltd.
- TENKE, Z. and HIGGINS, A. (1999) Medicine Ball Training. Canada; Sport Book Publishers
- SCHOLICH, M. (1999) Circuit Training for all Sports. Canada; Sport Book Publishers
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Components of Fitness