Components of Fitness – Create a Well Rounded Fitness Program


I’m not always the best for following what the “experts” recommend. When I took my athletic trainer’s course, they basically had me study from a book, that their company produced, so they could make money. The course was a bit of a joke for someone who had taken four years of kinesiology at a University. Here I had this instructor with no background, pretty much just preaching what the book said, without a real opinion of her own it seemed.

You see, I like to lift weights. I hate to run. If you like to run, all the power to you. I find it the most boring form of exercise imaginable, but I have a lot of respect for the work that runners put in. They work their tails off and can achieve amazing results. Anyone that can run for 4 hours straight has to be in exceptional condition. But me, I just like to lift heavy stuff and play sports. I know the importance of cardiorespiratory fitness, but I can never really get excited about doing it.

If anyone can fill me in on the high they get from running and why they get it, I’m all ears. But in this case, I’m telling you to do as I say and not as I do. Getting cardiorespiratory work into your fitness routine will come with all kinds of benefits. Mind you, running isn’t the only form of cardio, so make sure you look to other avenues to get that work in if you’re like me.

Running is one component I’m missing in my fitness routine. I do play hockey through the winter and soccer through the summer, so in my mind I’m kind of covered there.

Here are some other components of fitness that you should look into in order to have a well-rounded program and active lifestyle:

  • Cardiorespiratory (CR) Endurance – the efficiency with which the body delivers oxygen and nutrients needed for muscular activity and transports waste products from the cells. You’ll be able to incorporate things like running or jogging for distance, biking, walking, or hiking to help develop this system.
  • Muscular Strength – the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort. Here’s where you can grab some heavy stuff like dumbbells, barbells, sandbags and other stuff to lift for low reps. Lifting heavy weight with sets of low repetitions will help you increase muscular strength.
  • Muscular Endurance – the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of time. Here’s where you can grab those dumbbells and barbells again, but make sure they’re a little lighter. You’re main goal here is to lift for higher repetitions in your sets to improve the endurance of your muscles.
  • Flexibility – the ability to move the joints or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion. You can also refer to this as stretching. There are two types of stretches you can perform as well: static and dynamic. A static stretch is where you hold a stretch for a period of time. This is most effective after a workout. A dynamic stretch is where you take a joint through a range of motion without holding it in a particular position. It basically moves back and forth through a range of motion without stopping, thus making it dynamic.
  • Body Composition – the percentage of body fat a person has in comparison to his or her total body mass. If you’re looking to lose weight, and in other words lose fat, the best way to judge how you’ve progressed is how much fat you’ve lost and not the overall weight. People will sometimes put too much emphasis on the scale, without having their body fat percentage tested. A measure of your body fat will be a truer test of the work you’ve put in.

components-of-fitness-1Improving the first three components on the above list will have a positive effect on your body composition. By improving your cardiorespiratory endurance, as well as muscular strength and endurance, while keeping a healthy diet, you’ll be hard pressed not to lower your body fat percentage. Carrying around too much excess body fat can lead to a number of different unwanted things like underperformance, health problems, and just always being a step behind your competition.

Factors such as speed, agility, muscular power and hand-eye coordination are classified as secondary components of fitness. Improving these components of fitness will assist in improving your overall athletic ability within the limits of your potential. If you’re an athlete that competes in any type of competitive sport, these types of exercises are crucial to your success.

To improve your speed, the best exercise to do is a form of sprinting. Who would have thought right? To get faster, you have to practice running fast. There are other little drills that can be performed to improve each particular part of the running stride, but sprinting is a must to get faster.

Agility is a component that has gained some ground over the past couple years in the athletic world. The agility ladder has been a big part of that, although it has come with some scrutiny. Research has come out showing that the agility ladder doesn’t actually make the athlete quicker, just quicker at moving their feet into certain positions. With that said, laying out a set of cones into the letter “T” or “H” and going through various patterns of sprinting forwards, backwards, and shuffling side to side, while changing directions quickly at each cone has shown to be much more effective.

Now that you’re familiar with the components of exercise and fitness, let’s introduce the principles of fitness that one should also keep in the back of their minds. Making sure you adhere to these principles will ensure a well-rounded exercise program. These principles apply to everyone at all levels of fitness, from the Olympic caliber athlete to the weekend jogger.

Here Are The Principles of Fitness:

To achieve success in your training program, or create a training effect, it is crucial to keep a regular schedule for exercising. If your schedule is too wishy-washy, you’ll find yourself backtracking more often than not. It’s also important to note that keeping a regular rest, sleep and eating schedule is just as important to your fitness success.

More often than not, people who exercise regularly will reach the ever dreaded “plateau”. This is where you come to a point where you don’t see improvements in certain components of your fitness. In order to break through plateaus and reach higher goals, you must always be thinking about progressing your fitness routine. You can do this by changing the amount of reps, changing the distance of a run, adding more weight to the bar, and so on. If you’re sticking to the same routine over and over, it’s best you make some changes after at least a month. Otherwise, in my opinion, you’re going to run the risk of plateaus, or even worse, boredom.

components-of-fitness-2This does not refer to the actual act of balancing on something. In order to improve your overall fitness levels, you should not be focusing solely on one component. Keep it balanced, so that you’re working on each component of exercise relatively evenly.

Like I said before, don’t stick to the exact same program for too long, or else you’ll run the risk of boredom. When people get bored with things, they usually quit them. We don’t want you to quit exercising, so switch it up a bit every now and then. Run outside instead of the treadmill. Get someone to train with and do their routine with them. Anything to mix things up a bit.

Want to get better at running? Then stop swimming and start running. Your training routine should be specific to your overall goals. I want to become stronger and faster as an athlete, so you won’t see me going for long rides on the bike for my workout session. Pick a goal and make your training focus emphasize that goal.

This is a principle that I had a hard time getting used to when I started out in the gym. Having a raging case of OCD didn’t exactly help me stay on the couch when I first caught the weight room bug. Trust me though, if you’re going to achieve maximum gains in your workout routine, you’re going to need to give your body time to recover. If you beat your body up, you have to give it time to catch back up to speed. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to spend entire days sitting on your butt. You can schedule an upper body day one day and a lower body day the next, giving your upper body the day to recover. Just make sure you schedule that time in.

The work load of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body in order to bring about a training effect. You can’t just keep lifting the same amount of weight, week in and week out, expecting to get better. That’s like someone playing against the same opponents each game in basketball, crushing them every game and thinking they’re getting better. You need to play better competition to get better. Just like you need to add more weight to the bar to get stronger.

So hopefully that wasn’t too much information for everyone to take in. Believe me, it’s not as hard as all these terms make it seem. Getting in the gym at least 3 times a week and working on different components will help you get there. Just make sure you do your prep work before you head over for your workout at the gym. Go in with a plan, and you’ll be better off for it.

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About Author

Conor Doherty

I'm a certified athletic trainer with Canada Fitness Professionals. Living in Northwestern Ontario, hockey is king, so 95% of my clients are hockey players. I also specialize in youth fitness and I train kids between 10 and 16 years old. See my profile page for more information!

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