Practicing any sport or physical activity regularly is a great habit and an admirable trait. However, lots of people out there like to think of themselves as fit, when in reality, they have been focusing on a single thing for too long and their overall fitness isn’t that impressive.
You know the type:
Solely focusing on bodybuilding-type training to build muscle, yet many can’t do 10 pull-ups.
Solely focusing on powerlifting-style of training to get as strong as possible, yet many can’t run 1 mile without rest.
Solely focusing on endurance training, yet many can’t perform any bodyweight movements or lift much weight in the gym.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Focusing on learning how to do one thing well is important, but in order to be a well-balanced and athletic person, you need to be good at many things and being able to get your muscles to work synergistically.
Today, we’ll go over the 10 measures of fitness that make your daily life better and better able to do more work.
Let me be the first one to say: strength is awesome. Not only does it bring confidence, but it also makes our daily lives much easier. We all need physical strength in some capacity in our day to day life: carrying groceries, helping a friend move furniture, picking up our kids, the list goes on.
Strength refers to our ability to lift more weight. The most common way of tracking strength is to test the maximum weight one can lift on the bench press, barbell squat, deadlift, and barbell shoulder press.
A good level for most people would be:
Bench press x 1.2 times bodyweight
Squat x 1.4 times bodyweight
Deadlift x 1.5 times bodyweight
Overhead press x 0.8 times bodyweight
The most efficient way to develop strength is to work with heavier weights (75-90% of your 1 repetition max).
2. Cardiovascular endurance
Endurance is another important measure of fitness. Where strength is a measure of how much weight you can lift, endurance tracks your ability to do work for extended periods of time.
Running, swimming, biking, and hiking for extended periods of time are all great activities to improve your endurance.
Speed is a direct measure of the rate at which you can move all or part of your body.
How quickly you can run 100 meters, swing a bat, throw a punch, etc. Being fast allows you to tie together all other measures of fitness together and perform more work in less time.
Some of you might think that power is the same as strength, but it’s not. Where strength measures your muscles’ ability to generate force against an external load, power measures the speed with which you can produce maximal force.
In short, power is a combination of your speed and strength and how well you can use them together.
Power is needed for many athletic endeavors such as olympic movements (clean and jerk), swinging a baseball bat, throwing a punch, and more.
Exercises that can develop power are depth jumps, hurdle jumps, olympic lifts, and clap push-ups. Also, barbell movements with moderate load (around 60% of your 1 repetition max) with the goal of moving the weight as quickly as possible for 2-4 repetitions.
Balance is the ability to maintain, or achieve a state of stability during any posture or activity. You need proper balance in almost every physical activity you attempt. On some activities, you need more balance, on others - less. But you need it everywhere.
For example, squatting with a 300-pound barbell on your back requires quite a bit of balance, where the simple act of walking isn’t as demanding.
Agility is the ability to move quickly and change your body’s position efficiently. Agility requires the use of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance while performing isolated movements.
Agility is required in most sports where tacking opponents, avoiding contact or having to quickly change direction is needed. Think football, basketball, volleyball, and tennis, for example.
This partly shares the definition of agility, but with the subtle difference, that accuracy refers to the ability to control movement in a given direction at a given intensity.
Accuracy allows us to hit targets with precision, a valuable skill that is needed in many sports.
This refers to your ability to use senses such as seeing and hearing together with the body to perform motor tasks smoothly and efficiently. We use coordination in many everyday activities, some of which require different movement patterns, muscle groups, and body positions.
Stamina, also known as anaerobic capacity is your body’s ability to store, deliver and utilize energy. Stamina primarily refers to two metabolic pathways: phosphagen and glycolytic, both of which are involved in activities involving strength, power, and speed.
Flexibility is the direct measure of the range of motion at a given joint. Without sufficient flexibility, even simple movements may be impossible to perform and the risk of injury would increase.
For example, having tight hip flexors would affect your ability to sprint (speed), squat heavy weights (strength), and quickly change your body’s position while running quickly (agility).
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