If you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you are on your journey to fitness right now (or you’re hiding in the bathroom to avoid it). You, much like everyone else in the gym, is here to improve their health, but where do you want to improve? Should you go to every yoga class every week? Or maybe walk on the treadmill during your lunch hour? Want to do curls for hours or deadlift 500 lbs? What about a mix of everything I just said?
There’s more to fitness than just walking on a treadmill or going to yoga. Both of those are very important, but how important should they be? Where is the right balance? The American College of Sports Medicine sought to create an easy to follow guide to the nuances of fitness by emphasizing 5 components of fitness that every gym goer should use to their advantage when designing their workouts
The 5 components
Body composition: Body composition is the amount of fat mass versus fat free mass on your body. Fat mass is fat tissue that can be found on your abdomen, chest, glutes, and subcutaneously under your skin. Body composition is the number you typically hear as “body-fat percentage” It is affected by your energy balance and calories in vs calories out.
Muscular endurance: Muscular endurance is the ability of your muscles to continuously contract or move over a long period of time. Muscular endurance allows you to hold a flexed arm hang and carry your groceries from the car up your stairs without having to stop. Muscular endurance can be trained with strength training, typically with lower weights and higher reps.
Muscular Strength: Muscular strength is the ability of the muscle to move a heavy weight quickly. This is the ability to chop a piece of firewood or perform a power clean. Exercises that train muscular strength are high weight, low rep exercises like power cleans, heavy squats, and bench press
Cardiorespiratory fitness: Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to bring in oxygen and use it effectively in the body. This is the ability to continuously run or cycle over a long period of time. Exercises that train cardiorespiratory fitness is “cardio” exercise like running, cycling, or using the elliptical
Flexibility: Flexibility is your muscles ability to stretch and return to a set position without damage. This is the ability to touch your toes or perform yoga poses. The best way to train for flexibility is to stretch after your workouts or go to a yoga class.
These five components of health-related physical fitness should be considered in any workout plan. There should be a balance of each within every week of exercise (and preferably every session) as well as your lifestyle and diet. With a balance of the 5 components, you should be able to continue your success in your fitness journey.
Pescatello, L. S., & American College of Sports Medicine. (2014). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health.