Fitness is a very relative concept. The notion that fitness confines to only building and owning a good body is incomplete and can be drawn an analogy to donning a bespoke tailored suit without a tie, belt, shoes and a pocket square.
An athlete, practitioner of any art/form or just a regular gym goer (Read Gym Tips For Beginners with sample routines) all disperse their own versions of knowledge and understanding to achieve optimal fitness. This by all measure is correct, but more importantly a method they use to excel in their own sport or form. Every sportsman follows a particular training to excel in his respective field and thus all his training plan is designed accordingly. The result, we commoners see in the form of excellent conditioning of the body is a by-product of many hours of rigorous sport-specific preparation an athlete puts in.
A marathoner claims running to be the salvage from illness, a yogi endorses smooth and complex body movements where a weightlifter preaches strength and a footballer backs speed, skill and agility. They all are athletes and beacons of fitness in their own way. However, a common man cannot ape the hard work and time these athletes put in owing to work and other commitments. A good level of fitness reflecting both in your body and in action is a measure of a well-being success.
SO WHAT IS FITNESS?
Fitness is the ability of an individual to perform the physical demands of daily activities and
recreational athletics and still have the energy to cope with the challenges of life. The 5 pillars of fitness that enable a person to live the way they want are:
You might think that muscular strength is simply how strong you are. For example, how much weight you can carry, how many pounds you can lift at the gym or how many pushups/pullups you can do during a workout. But a true muscular strength definition is a little bit more complicated than that.
According to ACSM (The American college of Sports Medicine) “It is characterized by the maximal force muscles can generate without a time limit of a specified movement’’. This Muscular strength can be measured by One-repetition maximum test (1RM). Under the supervision of a trainer, record the maximum weight you can squat, deadlift and bench
press. This is your 1RM max. Powerlifters have the highest 1RM.
Including strength training in your exercise program will help you build lean muscle mass and improve your metabolism by accelerating the calories burn. Stronger muscles will make your daily activities easier. And you all know how increased muscles mass makes your body look leaner and better irrespective of your size!
Muscular endurance is the ability of a body to work for an extended amount of time. It is the potential of a body to exert repeated muscular effort against resistance and prolong fatigue into a specified task or activity. The longer you can perform that action; whether it’s continuous biceps curls, swimming, riding a bike or running, you are exercising muscular endurance.
Whether it’s a day-to-day life activity: playing with your kids, doing chores around the house or in the midst of a workout, your body needs muscular endurance. When you have a good muscular endurance, fatigue will not set in as fast and you will be able to withstand more while using less energy.
Cross fitters, marathoners, long distance-swimmers/cyclists and triathletes all have an excellent muscular endurance.
Cardiovascular endurance is defined as the health and function of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system which can supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles. It is the ability of the body to sustain prolonged activity without becoming overly tired because your heart, lungs and blood vessels are healthy.
To sustain large muscle movement over an extended period of time, cardiovascular endurance is paramount to deliver oxygen for energy. If you improve the capacity of the muscles to extract oxygen from the bloodstream to produce energy, you improve your cardiovascular endurance. Stamina is an integral component of the cardiovascular endurance as it consists of maintaining an increased heart rate for an extended period of time.
Improved aerobic metabolism (requiring more oxygen) also help develop slow twitch muscle fibres required for high endurance sport. Activities such as running, walking, biking, swimming or functional activity sustained over a duration of time will enhance cardiovascular endurance.
Your body is made up of two types of Mass: Body fat and fat-free mass.
Body fat can be found under the skin (subcutaneous fat), around the organs (visceral fat) or in muscle tissues. Fat in some quantities is required to maintain an overall health. It is called as essential fat and it helps protect organs, stores fuel for energy and regulates the hormones. However, an excess of fat leads to the build-up of non-essential body fat which compromises our health.
Fat-free mass is made up of bone, water, muscle, organs, and tissues. Due to the large proportion of muscle as a mass it is also called as lean tissue. These tissues are metabolically active and continuously burn calories for energy.
Body Composition relates to the ratio between the amount of lean tissue (bone, muscle, organs) and body fat that a person carries on his body. A high percentage of body fat has been linked to metabolic disease, low energy, and compromised emotional health.
When the above components of fitness; muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance are exercised, the body composition gets corrected.
Simply put, flexibility is the capacity to bend. Scientifically, it is defined as the range of motion around specific joints without being restricted by the musculoskeletal system.
Flexibility is to the ability to easily squat down to pick something up, and the ability to climb stairs without any pain in the muscle groups. An increased flexibility can help increase the force exerted in a movement and improve the speed of the performance. As you know, during the growing adolescent years, developmental flexibility enables us to be quite flexible but as you grow older it halts due to the joint changes. But an active individual maintains greater flexibility than the sedentary ones.
An individual’s flexibility is defined by the physical activity he engages in. A yogi will have more flexibility than a powerlifter. Flexibility depends on many variables: age, gender, body composition, behavioural habits are just a few. Inadequate flexibility can lead to loss of power and potential injury.
All of these components should be adapted to any activity or sport specific to an individual’s goals to reap the benefits of overall fitness! If you are strong in one and lack the other, make sure you work on your weakness to continue on your path to seek holistic fitness. To achieve this, there needs to be planning and preparation, accountability for your action and a set target for your goals.
Wishing you a healthier time!
Read about the benefits of including Yoga in strength training routine for holistic fitness.