Components of Fitness
Introduction: Physical Fitness can be defined as: “the ability to carry out daily tasks (work and play) with vigour and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample reserve energy to enjoy leisure time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies.”
Physical fitness is an individual matter related to the specific needs of each individual, their strengths, weaknesses and interests and the requirements of their chosen sport. Since all of these factors can change, fitness should not be seen as a static thing.
Health related Components of Fitness • cardio-respiratory, or endurance / aerobic power • muscular strength • local muscular endurance • anaerobic power • flexibility • body composition.
motor-skill related • The following are additional components that are motor-skill related: • speed • muscular power • agility • coordination • balance • reaction time
Rarely in sport are fitness components utilised in isolation. • It is the interaction of a number of components that produces the performance • muscular power, for instance, depends upon muscular strength and speed • agility could be said to be a combination of power, speed, flexibility, balance, coordination and reaction time • local muscular endurance depends on strength
Cardio-respiratory Endurance • Cardio-respiratory endurance is also commonly called • circulo-respiratory endurance • aerobic endurance • aerobic capacity • aerobic power. • This is the ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body and to remove waste products such as carbon dioxide. In this way energy is made available to the working muscles. • Cardio-respiratory endurance is most evident • at rest; • during sustained activity involving the whole body, such as running, swimming and cycling long distances; and during recovery. • It is the most essential physical fitness component, evident in everyday activities and in most team sports. Most of the benefits attributable to improved physical fitness are in fact due to increased cardio-respiratory endurance.
Muscular Strength • Muscular strength is 'the ability of a muscle to generate a force against a resistance' • It is often misunderstood or confused with other components such as anaerobic power, muscular power and local muscular endurance. • Muscular strength is an integral part of all of these components and is rarely used in isolation. • It is important in many sports, for example those in which we try to gain or maintain position against an opponent, or in which we aim to move an object, our body or some body part, forcefully
Factors affecting the application of strength: • Age • Maximal strength for both males and females is attained at around 25 to 30 years of age. • Sex • There is no discernible difference between the sexes in performance on fitness tests, including strength tests until puberty. Females tend to finish their development earlier that males. • After puberty an untrained female has approximately two-thirds of the strength of an untrained male.. This is due to the fact that males have a greater muscle mass and therefore a greater cross-sectional area than females. • Cross-sectional area (size) • The greater the cross-sectional area of a muscle, the greater the strength (this applies to both sexes).
Muscle shape and location • The multipennate arrangement of muscle fibres (for example in the quadriceps) is shorter and stronger but slower than the fusiform arrangement (for example in the hamstrings), which is longer and weaker, but faster. • Strength is specific to a muscle or group of muscles. You can have strong quadriceps but weak hamstrings (a common factor in torn hamstrings). • Muscle fibre type • Athletes have two types of muscle fibre. • White, fast-twitch (FT) fibres produce more force than red, slow-twitch (ST) fibres, but fatigue more rapidly. • Red, slow-twitch fibres are therefore recruited for low-intensity (submaximal), prolonged aerobic work such as endurance activities. • As the intensity of the activity increases, more FT fibres are activated.
Speed of contraction • A muscle can generate greatest force when no movement at all occurs, for example during an isometric contraction. As speed of movement increases, force decreases. • Type of muscular contraction • There are three types of contractions (or muscular actions) that the athlete uses when applying strength: • static or isometric contractions • isotonic contractions, which may be either concentric or eccentric; • isokinetic contractions.
Local muscular endurance • The ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain an activity for a short time in the face of considerable local fatigue is known as local muscular endurance. • Local muscular endurance tasks such as push-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups require additional anaerobic energy to that supplied aerobically. • This is because the pressure of the contracting muscles causes almost complete occlusion (blocking) of the blood vessels that supply the muscle tissue. • Since oxygen cannot be provided to the working muscles (even at submaximal levels) the muscles are dependent upon the sources of energy immediately available within the muscle itself, ATP and creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine), and subsequently, the breakdown of glycogen anaerobically. • The exact factors limiting the duration of local muscular endurance are not fully understood, but recent research suggests that the accumulation of fatigue causing lactic acid is the most likely cause (rather than the depletion of anaerobic energy stores, the phosphagens ATP and PC).
Factors affecting Muscular Endurance • Age • Older men and women fatigue more rapidly than their younger counterparts, although the loss of endurance is less than might be expected. • Sex • There is no significant difference in muscular endurance due to sex, if the strength factor is ruled out (or equal). • Circulation • Improved peripheral circulation due to increased quantities of blood vessels in active muscle tissue as a result of training is one of the most important factors in the development of muscular endurance. • Tolerance of lactic acid • The degree to which an athlete can tolerate high levels of lactic acid in her muscles appears to be the most significant factor in limiting performance in local muscular endurance activities.
Anaerobic Power and Speed • Anaerobic power refers to the ability to produce energy without using oxygen. • The efficiency of the ATP-PC and Lactic Acid systems is therefore a central factor in anaerobic power. • The greater the efficiency of these anaerobic pathways, the greater the athlete's anaerobic power.
Speed refers to the ability to move the whole body or a body part from one point to another in the shortest possible time. • This typically occurs when the athlete is participating in an activity of short duration and high intensity, which therefore utilises the anaerobic pathways. • It is characterised by activities such as sprinting; the run-up in long jump, triple jump and javelin in athletics; speed skating and the run-up to vault in gymnastics. An exchange of volleys in tennis and a slips catch from a fast bowler in cricket could also be regarded as speed activities. • It will ultimately be limited by the capacity of her anaerobic energy systems (anaerobic power) • Speed and genetics : • the size of bones • angle of joints; • the position of attachments of ligaments and tendons • the proportion of white, fast-twitch fibres • the more white, fast- twitch muscle fibres, the greater the potential for speed
Flexibility • Flexibilityrefers to the range of possible movement about a joint or sequence of joints. • It is the ability to move your joints, to bend, stretch and twist body parts readily. • Flexibility has important implications for injury prevention, freedom of movement and aesthetic appearance. • Flexibility can be either static or dynamic. • Dynamic (or active) flexibility is concerned with how easily a limb can be moved through its range of motions when executing a skill, for example, the arm action in backstroke, or the follow-through when kicking a ball. • Static flexibility is concerned with determining one's ability to move a joint to its maximum range of motions, for example, when doing the splits. The position, once attained, is held static. • A certain degree of flexibility is desirable, but the degree is dependent upon the type of activity undertaken. Swimmers, for example, require a level of flexibility in the wrist and ankle joints that could prove undesirable for a footballer, who requires these joints to be quite stable. • Flexibility, along with body composition and strength, is one of the most readily modified components of fitness.
Factors influencing flexibility • Joint structure • The more stable the joint, the greater the strength but the less movement or flexibility it allows. • The ball and socket joint of the hip, for example, is more stable than the shoulder joint but allows less movement. • Length of muscles at rest • Muscles tend to shorten, with a corresponding loss of flexibility about the associated joints, if they are at rest (not exercised) for extended periods of time, for example due to a sedentary lifestyle. • Age • Almost from birth, and progressively as we age, we lose flexibility • Sex • Females tend to be more flexible than males due to hormonal differences resulting in, for example, less muscle bulk. • Body build • Excessive adipose (fat) tissue or muscle bulk may limit an individual's flexibility. • Disease • Diseases such as arthritis (causing prolonged inactivity or malformed bones and joints) result in reduced flexibility.
Muscular Power • Muscular power is 'the ability to exert a “maximal" contraction in one explosive act'. • It is dependent upon the interaction of two other components of fitness, strength and speed. • A muscle that contracts very quickly has insufficient time to develop maximum force, whereas a very forceful contraction takes time, resulting in slow movement. • Muscular power is exemplified by 'explosive' activities such as the shot put, discus, hammer-throw and jumping events in athletics; the rebound in basketball; the leap of a dancer. • The energy for muscular power is provided anaerobically via the ATP-PC system.
Agility • Agility is 'the ability to change direction accurately and quickly while moving rapidly' • It is a composite of a number of components including power, speed, flexibility, balance and coordination. • Is characterised by activities such as dodging, baulking, weaving and recovery in team games like basketball and football and the ability to change direction quickly in games like squash and tennis. • Coordinationis the smooth flow of movement in the execution of a physical task. • It is often considered to be the common denominator of all the skill-related components of fitness. • It involves the nervous system and the skeletal-muscular system working harmoniously in hand-eye and foot-eye coordination activities such as the timing of the ball-toss and racquet-swing in tennis; the lay-up in basketball; the spike in volleyball and ball control with the foot in soccer. • It is also exemplified by the integration of the arm and leg action in breaststroke. Coordination
Balance • Balance can be defined as the ability to maintain the equilibrium of the body. • Static balance involves maintaining the equilibrium in one fixed position, for example, a held position on the balance beam or parallel bars in gymnastics. • Dynamic balance involves maintaining the equilibrium while moving, for example walking, rolling or leaping on the balance beam or swinging on the parallel bars; water-skiing; horse riding; skateboarding or in-line skating. • Balance is an essential element of most sports, but physical fitness gains can be achieved without appreciable improvements in balance beyond the 'normal' range.
Reaction Time • Reaction time refers to the athlete's ability to process information via the nervous system and react. • It involves the time it takes for the brain to • receive information from the senses (particularly the eyes and ears), • process the information, • formulate a response • and transmit this response to the motor units (nerves and connected muscle fibres) and for the muscles to contract (the reaction). • An example would be the time delay between the starter's gun going off in a sprint race and the athlete actually blasting out of the blocks.
Body Composition Body composition: This is a measure of how much of your body is made up of muscle compared with how much is made up of fat. It is important to have a good balance of the two but sports players usually have a greater proportion of muscle. Some sports performers, such as rowers, require a large muscle mass to give them lots of power and strength, but others, such as marathon runners, require a lower muscle mass so that they don’t have to carry ‘extra’ body mass as they are running. Some sports performers, such as sumo wrestlers, even require quite a large mass of body fat to be successful. Everyone is born with a predisposition to a particular body composition, although small changes can be made by varying your diet and the amount/type of exercise that you take part in. The important thing is to have the correct body composition for your sport
Aerobic Endurance • Beep Test • VO2 Max test (Maximum oxygen uptake ) • Yo-Yo endurance tests (intermittent)
Muscular Strength • Handgrip Strength test • 1 Rep Max Bench Press
Muscular Endurance • Maximum Push-Ups test • Maximum Sit-Ups test
Anaerobic Power • Vertical Jump Test • Standing Long Jump test • Seated Ball throw
Speed • 20/30/40/50/60 meter Sprint tests
Muscular Power • Seated Medicine ball throw
Flexibility • Sit + Reach test • Calf muscle Flex test • Back scratch test
Agility • Illinois Agility test • AFL/Soccer agility test
Coordination • Wall toss and catch test • Opposite hand throw test
Balance • Stalk stand • Balance beam walk test
Reaction Time Information processing test
Body Composition • Skin folds test • Body weight • BMI test • Girth Measurements
Weight Training Most people take part in weight training in order to increase their strength. Other reasons include improving muscle tone or muscle size. Most forms of weight training are: Isotonic Or Isometric
Isotonic training • Isotonic training means the muscles contract and shorten to produce movement. Examples include a push-up or squat • Advantages - • Strengthens the muscle throughout the range of motion • Can be adapted easily to suit different sports • Disadvantages - • Muscle soreness after exercise because of the high stress levels • Muscles gain the most strength when they're at their weakest point of action
Isometric training • Isometric training means muscles contract but there is no movement at the muscle or joint. For example the wall sit exercise (stand with your back to a wall and bend the knees into a squat position and hold). • Advantages - • Develops static strength • Inexpensive and easy to perform nearly anywhere as little equipment is required • Disadvantages - • Muscles gain most strength at the angle used in exercise • Avoid if you have heart problems as they cause a rise in blood pressure due to a drop in blood flow to the muscle during this contraction.
Endurance Training • The following types of exercise are good for improving your cardiovascular endurance: • Continuous training • Interval Training • Fartlek training • Circuit training
Continuous training • This type of exercise is, as the name suggests, continuous! Rests are not allowed. To achieve this you must exercise at a constant rate which is within your aerobic training zone (60-80% max heart rate). Continuous training should last for bouts of at least 20 minutes (when starting) up to 2 hours or more! (think of a marathon!) • Advantages - • Needs only a small amount of easy to use, accessible equipment, if any • Good for aerobic fitness • Good for losing weight • Disadvantages - • can be boring • Doesn't improve anaerobic fitness so isn't as good for team games like football or hockey which involve short bursts of speed
Interval training • Intervals are periods of exercising hard, with rest or low intensity periods inbetween. For example you may run 100 meters at 85% and then 200 at 50% to recover. This is one rep. You may perform this 5-10 times, which would complete the set. • Advantages - • Can mix aerobic and anaerobic exercise which replicates team games • It makes it easier for a coach to see when the athlete isn't trying • Disadvantages - • It can be hard to keep going when you start to fatigue • Can become boring
Fartlektraining • Fartlek involves training at a continuous exercise, but varying the intensity and type of exercise. For example, a running session could include sprinting for 10 seconds, fast walking for 20 seconds, jogging for 1 minute and repeating this. You can also add in things like running uphill or on sand. • Advantages- • Good for sports which require changes in pace • Easily adapted to suit the individuals level of fitness and sport • Disadvantages - • Too easy to skip the hard bits • Can be difficult to see how hard someone is trying!
Circuit training • Circuits can be used to increase either strength, aerobic fitness or both! There are usually between 8 and 15 stations and at each one you do a different exercise for 1 minute. At the end you then move on to the next station. Rest can be incorporated depending on the level of the participants. • Advantages - • Less boring because it changes all the time • Can be easily adapted for strength or endurance or different sports etc • Disadvantages - • Takes a while to set up • Takes a lot of equipment
Plyometric Training • Plyometric training can be used to develop fast twitch muscle fibres (WHITE) so that you can get power particularly in the legs. • It’s based on the idea that a shortening muscular contraction is much stronger if it immediately follows a lengthening contraction of the same muscle. • Muscle fibres transfer energy more quickly and powerfully when they move in this way. It’s like stretching fully a coiled spring and then letting it go; energy is released rapidly as the spring recoils. • Individuals can use activities such as hopping, depth jumping and bounding. • Pylometrictraining should be implemented under supervision, since the technique and strength necessary to do the activities is broken by periods of rest to minimize injury.