Who comes to mind when thinking of someone fit? Are they an athlete on a sports team, maybe a UFC fighter or perhaps your workout partner or trainer at the gym? Regardless of who it is they all have certain attributes of physical fitness in common.
Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans, coaches at the fitness company Dynamax, categorized 10 different areas of physical development in an effort to help guide those looking to improve their fitness.
By becoming aware of these 10 different attributes of physical fitness, you can learn how to take advantage of the exercises that will improve them. The great thing is you are probably already working on a bunch of these different attributes at a time, whether through working out, playing sports or going on a hike.
1. Cardiovascular Endurance.
The ability for body systems to gather process and deliver oxygen. You are probably most familiar with this type of physical attribute and the exercises to improve it. Anything that increases your breathing and heart rate such as;
The ability of body systems to store, process and deliver energy. A great way to challenge yourself and improve stamina is to use shorter rest periods during your workouts and/or utilize circuit training. This is where you do one exercise then immediately go to another exercise with little to no rest.
An example would be to do;
- 20 kettlebell swings,
- Followed by 10 pushups,
- Then to 10 bent over rows with bands.
- That would be 1 set.
- You can then add more sets as your stamina improves.
The ability of a muscular unit or combination of muscular units to apply force. The quickest way to build strength is to start a workout routine involving weights or bodyweight exercises.
There are many good routines out there to build strength but the idea is to start at a weight that is challenging and utilize sets, repetitions and rest periods to progressively overload the muscle your working so that every week you’re doing more overall “work” with that muscle.
The ability to maximize the range of motion on a joint. There are a couple different ways to increase flexibility but the most well known are;
- Static Stretching. This is the method that most comes to mind when thinking of increasing your flexibility. You hold a joint in a stretched position (like bending over to try and touch your toes) for a designated length of time.
- Dynamic Stretching. This is where you perform the stretch with movement but you don’t hold the stretch in the end position. Some examples would be arm circles, lunges or leg swings.
The ability of a muscular unit or combination of muscular units to apply maximum force in minimum time. When it comes to power training, the techniques used to improve it are called explosive movements. When trying to improve this attribute form and quality are the priority. The idea is to put as much force and effort into the exercise to create the most power possible.
Some great exercises to try are;
- Jump Squats. Start with feet in the shoulder width position. Squat down and with as much force as possible jump up. Land back into the squat position and do it again.
- Medicine Ball Slams. Lift the medicine ball overhead and with as much power as possible slam it onto the ground in front of you. Pick it up and do it again. There are a bunch of different ways you can try slamming the ball check out the link for some idea —> Medicine Ball Slam Variations
- Clapping Pushups. Start in a normal pushup position, hand just outside of shoulder width. Lower yourself down and again, with as much force as possible explode up and at the top of the movement clap your hands together.
The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement. Speed can best be improved by sprinting. An efficient way to achieve fast results is to utilize interval training. The idea is to have a work set close to 100% of your ability (sprinting as fast as you can) for a shorter time then your rest time.
So you would;
- Sprint-all-out for 10 seconds
- Then walk for 30 seconds.
- When the 30 seconds is up, start sprinting again for another 10.
- Then walk for 30 seconds
- Repeat for at least 3 working sets
When that gets too easy, you can shorten the length of time you rest, add more sets or sprint for a longer duration. When starting this type of training it’s a good idea to use somewhere that has a hill or incline. This will lessen the impact on your joints and decrease the chance of injury.
The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into one single movement. Improving your coordination can be a fun and challenging way to becoming a well-rounded fitness hero. These are a couple exercises you can use to help develop coordination.
- Tennis Ball Toss. Use a tennis ball and throw it at the wall using different speeds and angles and try to catch it. Bonus points for using only 1 hand.
- Jump Rope. A triple threat, jumping rope can build booth coordination, cardiovascular endurance, and stamina
The ability to minimize transition time from one movement to another. Exercises and drills that require rapid changes of direction going forward, backward, side to side and up/down will help to improve agility.
Some ways to practice this are;
- Ladder Drills. By using an agility ladder (basically a soft ladder you can lay on the floor), you can come up with different ways (the more variation the better) to move through the ladder. Take a look at this link for some ideas on how to set up this type of training –> Agility Ladder Training
- Balloon Drill. Fill up a couple of different colored balloons. Pick which colors you have to touch in order then keep them all up in the air without them touching the ground. Use your hands, feet, arms, legs. Roll around like a ninja if you want, just keep those balloons in the air!
The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base. Improving your balance can help to prevent injuries as well as increase strength in the gym. Some great movements to help improve balance while improving strength are;
- Bulgarian Split Squats. A great muscle building and balance improving exercise the Bulgarian split squat will help to improve both attributes very quickly –>Bulgarian Split Squat
- Single Leg Romanian Deadlift. Another unilateral exercise, the single leg “RDL” will improve strength and balance as well. –> Single Leg RDL
- Wobble Board. Get yourself one of these bad boys and improve your balance while watching Netflix!
- Stand on one leg. As simple as it seems, standing on one leg can actually be quite a challenge if not practiced.
The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity. Accuracy drills pair nicely with coordination exercises.
- Tennis Ball Hitting Target. Set up some targets on the wall, something that’s small and can stick like sticky notes. Then just like the coordination exercise toss a tennis ball, but this time at the targets. Use different hands, different angles and different speeds for more of a challenge
- Tennis Ball Floor Targets. Put some kind of target onto the ground, it could be some string in a circle or a gymnastics ring. Bounce the tennis ball into the floor target first then let it bounce on the wall before catching. Again, change up the angles and speed of the throw to make it more challenging.
A Well Rounded Athlete
By making sure you have a good foundation in all of these attributes these you can be confident in tackling anything, whether in the gym or outside of it.