What are the 5 Components of Fitness?

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Fitness is a broad term used to define your physical health. It is characterized by 5 components:

  1. Body composition
  2. Flexibility
  3. Muscular endurance
  4. Muscular strength
  5. Cardiovascular endurance

Read on for details on every aspect. This article will tell you everything you need to know about what each component encompasses and what kinds of workouts engage them where relevant. 

What are the 5 Components of Fitness

This section takes a close look at each of the 5 components of fitness. Where relevant, a separate section for how to test the component or how to engage it is given. 

1. Body Composition 

The first component of fitness we’re discussing today is body composition. It is the ratio of fat to lean mass in your body and is commonly known as the BMI. 

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While there are several concerns regarding both the efficacy and morality of the BMI test, it is a commonly used metric to determine fitness. For caucasian males especially, this scale is particularly useful. 

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Even if you aren’t a caucasian male, the BMI Index can help you gauge whether you fall into the underweight, normal, or overweight category. 

These are obviously not indicators of particularly healthy or fit individuals. 

Body composition is measured through the BMI Index. You weigh yourself on a hydrostatic weighing machine or use a DEXA to get an accurate measurement.

How to Improve Body Composition

Since body composition essentially refers to body fat percentage, you can get a better ratio by reducing fat and gaining muscle. 

Ways to reduce fat include:

  • Doing cardio (3 to 4 days a week is ideal)
  • Filling your diet with whole foods like dairy, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

Ways to gain muscle include:

  • Strength training 
  • Eating a lot of protein 
  • Sleeping well on a consistent pattern
  • Minimizing stress

2. Flexibility

The second component of fitness deals with the range of motion available at a joint or group of joints in your body. This is used as a measure to determine:

  1. Agility 
  2. Coordination 
  3. Balance

Flexibility is an integral component of fitness because it determines how much a person’s joints can grow before the growth begins stagnating. Once that starts happening, you lose full range of movement – something quite common in older folks.

How to Measure Flexibility 

Flexibility can only be measured in labs. The zipper or sit and reach tests are conducted by professionals who use a flexometer or goniometer to record results. 

How to Improve Flexibility 

Flexibility is a learned skill. You can improve it by regularly stretching, exercising, and doing yoga. 

For those with weak joints, wear joint support. Even if you have to start slow, that is okay. The real trick is being persistent and consistent. 

3. Muscular Endurance

The next component of fitness under discussion is muscle endurance.

Muscular endurance refers to the ability to maintain equilibrium while moving or while stationary. This essentially tests how long you can perform certain activities without feeling fatigued. 

The more your muscle endurance is, the less fatigued you will feel when exerting your muscles. 

How to Test Muscular Endurance 

You can test muscular endurance by engaging in weight training, resistance training, cardio, or any other type of exercise. 

The amount of time you’re able to perform these exercises without getting tired and wanting to stop is your muscle endurance. 

Labs can also test muscular endurance. They do this by counting the number of repetitions you’re able to complete for an extended period of time. Some common exercises used are cross-training, jogging, and running. 

How to Improve Muscular Endurance

Do a mixed workout 4 to 5 days a week. Include bicep curls, push-ups, planks, jogs, and runs. Ensure that you’re using a variety of exercises that engage all major muscle groups so that everything is worked out equally. 

4. Muscular Strength 

The maximum amount of force a muscle can produce is its muscular strength. When used in reference to overall fitness, this term refers to the cumulative muscular strength of all your muscles. 

It is used as a measure to determine how much weight you can carry at one time. 

There are 3 types of muscle strength:

  • Elastic strength: Your muscle’s ability to overcome resistance force by contracting quickly
  • Maximum strength: The greatest force your muscles can apply in a single maximum contraction
  • Strength endurance: Your ability to do the same contraction several times

How to Test Muscle Strength

The best way to test muscle strength is through a one-rep-max. This is a kind of exercise where you try to lift as much weight as you possibly can in one go. 

Heavyweight champions and bodybuilders often have competitions and tournaments for this. 

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These championships are meant to test muscle strength and reward the person who has the most. They aren’t tests of fitness in general but rather for this one component in isolation. 

Labs test muscle strength using 1RM tests. They can also use dynamometers to get information on isometric and isotonic contractions.

How to Improve Muscle Strength 

You can improve muscle strength by engaging in body weight exercises, weightlifting, and resistance training. Partake in HIIT or cardio beforehand to raise your heart rate and increase the impact of your training. 

In case you don’t have access to a gym with equipment or a home gym, you can get out of your house and do one of the following:

  1. Climbing hills 
  2. Cycling 
  3. Running 

Each one of these exercises tests your muscle strength and enhances it. Such exercises improve fitness because they teach your body to use more calories and burn fat. 

5. Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardiovascular endurance refers to your body’s ability to perform large-muscle, whole-body exercise at moderate to vigorous intensities for long periods of time. 

This ability depends on the extent to which you can efficiently take in oxygen, supply it to various bodily cells, and remove carbon dioxide. 

This component of fitness is an indicator of:

  1. Heart health 
  2. Lung health 
  3. Muscle function 

If you have high cardiovascular endurance, your heart can manage blood circulation so that you’ll successfully endure intense exercise for long periods. This component is sometimes referred to as ‘stamina.’

How to Test Cardiovascular Endurance

You can test your cardiovascular endurance by doing cardio (running on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, etc.) and getting your heart rate up. 

At home, this experiment can only gauge how long you can continue the cardio. Compare your results to the average of people your age by looking up this information online. 

Going to a doctor will let you get a more holistic and in-depth test result. They use Step Test and Cooper Run in conjunction with devices that monitor blood sugar levels to keep an eye on how you’re doing. 

Supplementary Components of Fitness

In addition to the 5 components of fitness listed above, you’ll be surprised to learn that there are a lot more components as well. These are known as skill-related components and are linked to very specific tasks like sports, driving, etc. 

Some supplementary components of fitness include:

  1. Reaction time

Your reaction time is the time taken for you to respond to changes in external stimuli. 

  1. Agility 

Agility is the ability to move from one direction to another without losing your balance. For example, pivoting. 

  1. Speed 

Speed is linked to agility. It refers to the movement of upper and lower limbs on the floor. This skill is integral for athletes. 

  1. Accuracy 

Accuracy is your ability to direct your body to move in a particular direction accurately. 

  1. Power

Power is a lot like muscle strength and abides by the same principles. 

Final Thoughts

There are 5 main components of fitness. 

Each one works together to determine how fit you are at any given point. For instance, the integrated function of muscle strength, muscle endurance, and muscle power allows you to do manual labor. 

So depending on what kind of work you’re looking for and whether or not you’re good at establishing a mind-body connection where you only use the muscle being directly impacted, you will have to rely on a different combination of the 5 every time you start doing work.

FAQ Section

What are the 5 physical fitness tests?

Body composition is measured through the BMI Index. Flexibility is measured in a laboratory using a goniometer or flexometer. 

Muscle endurance can be tested in the lab or field using repetitive exercises. Muscle strength is measured using the 1RM test, and cardiovascular fitness is measured using a step test.

What are muscle endurance exercises?

You can do squats, pushups, planks, rows, lunges, shoulder presses, rows, etc., to engage your muscle endurance and improve it. Include exercises in your workout routine that improve this component of physical fitness.

How can the components of physical fitness affect your health?

Improving on each component of fitness can increase your fitness. Better physical fitness means a lower likelihood of getting preventative diseases, fewer injuries, improved immunity, and a lower likelihood of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.  Overall, you would have a healthy body composition.

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