How Learning the Ten Components of Fitness Elevates Your Fitness Game

10 Physical Fitness Components CrossFit addresses:

1.   Cardiovascular / respiratory endurance – The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.

2.   Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.

3.   Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

4.   Flexibility – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

5.   Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

6.   Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

7.   Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

8.   Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

9.   Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

10.  Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Look up at the walls in our gym, and you'll find each of the fitness components listed.  They wrap around our gym, and serve as a reminder of why many of you show up every day.  For many of us the ten fitness components are just high level concepts, and many of us are only consciously aware of strength, cardio, and stamina, because it's easy to experience and notice gains in those components. 

But if you analyze your overall fitness level in the context of all ten fitness components you will be able to take more control over your fitness journey.  The athlete that's able to take more control over his fitness journey is one that can take more meaning from it, and therefore receive more pleasure from it. 

Consider this quote from Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’.  “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

If you know the enemy and yourself, meaning that you know what elements of fitness a movement provides, and you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, then you’re going to make significant gains.  If you know what your weaknesses are, but you don't understand how and what movements affect what components of fitness, then you hinder yourself from making gains.  If you know nothing of your fitness nor how different movements affect fitness, then you could wind up hurting yourself. 

Taking a strategic stance on your personal fitness can help you make gains more quickly, and there's nothing better than progress.  So how does this all work? 

Each movement we do in the gym enhances one or many of the ten components of fitness.  For instance, let's break down the one of the most fundamental human movements - the squat. 

There are different types of squats - air squat, back squat, front squat, squatting high reps for time, squatting heavy weight for high reps, etc.  Squatting to proper depth in an air squat requires an athlete to have flexibility, balance, and coordination.  Squatting heavy with a barbell requires that an athlete have strength and accuracy, in addition to balance, coordination, and flexibility.  Squatting medium loads for higher reps for time requires an athlete to have stamina, cardiovascular endurance, and power in addition to all other components we've mentioned thus far. 

The squat, as a movement, taps into many of the ten components of fitness, but depending on the load, rep scheme, and time constraint, the overall effect widely varies.  Analyzing the squat movement in the context of a workout is a skill you can develop to enhance your fitness journey.  This is the art of knowing your enemy.

Now let's say we have an athlete in the gym that has issues with her knees caving in when she squats.  Fixing this problem isn't always as easy as screaming to her "knees out" when she's at the bottom of her squat.  If she's a thoughtful and smart athlete she will want to fix her knees caving in issue.  What she needs to do is determine what aspect of her fitness is limiting her. 

Is it that she has limited strength in her hips, and when she squats to depth her weak hips lack the strength to keep her in a solid position?  Or is it that she lacks mobility in her ankles, specifically dorsiflexion, that makes her knees cave in?

Depending on the athlete's weakness, the fix would require one of two different approaches, and if our athlete isn't conscious of what aspect of fitness is affecting her squat, then how can she fix it?  Either she needs to work on strength, or she needs to work on mobility.  Although not mutually exclusive, each of these fitness components needs to be fixed using different techniques, and without thoughtfully considering what element of fitness she really needs to fix she could go down a path of injury.  This is the art of knowing yourself

All too often we train without thinking about what our bodies really need, and realizing what our bodies truly need is as simple as analyzing our weaknesses in each of the ten components of fitness. 

If you have no trouble with bar muscle ups, but seem to have serious trouble with ring muscle ups, then your problem might be accuracy and coordination.  If you have trouble with both bar muscle ups and ring muscle ups, then you might have a strength issue. 

Sometimes our issues are not obvious.  It might feel like you need more cardio work to conquer burpees, but maybe you actually need to work on your coordination, balance, and flexibility.  It might feel like you you're at the top of your kipping pull-up game, but if you work a little more on your accuracy and flexibility then you might be able to double your max pull-up count.

Putting more thought into your training will help you make gains.  Be conscious of the ten components of fitness.  Be aware of those that are your strengths and those that are your weaknesses.  Learn which movements affect which components of fitness, and as you start eliminating weakness in your foundation you will experience more triumph than disappointment. 

Here at CrossFit 1013 we encourage everyone to work on their weaknesses just as much as their strengths. Come in for a free trial and see how we can help you get through your fitness journey.