The 5 Components of Physical Fitness – Introduction
What are the 5 components of fitness, and why do you need to know them?
The answer is that knowledge is the first step to taking action to improve your health and reach your fitness goals.
As Plato said:
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”
Also, if you are studying for the NASM-CPT Exam (National Academy of Sports Medicine) or any personal trainer certification, you better know them!
BCF ME MS Acronym
What are the 5 Components of Health-Related Fitness?
Remember the acronym – BCF ME MS – to answer the question.
#1. Body Composition
Number one of the 5 components of fitness is body composition.
The most effortless place to start is determining if you are at your ideal body weight.
Here is a simple formula to easily calculate your ideal body weight based on your height using the Hamwi method:
- For Men: The ideal body weight formula is 100 – 106 pounds for your first 5 feet of height, plus 5 – 6 pounds for every additional inch.
- For Women: The ideal body weight formula is 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, plus 5 pounds for each additional inch.
Once you know your ideal body weight, it is time to find out your current weight today.
Jump on your body composition scale and see if your weight is close to your ideal body weight.
By the way, seventy-five percent of adults are overweight or obese, so do not sweat it.
You need a scale that includes BMI and body fat percentage measurements for the best results.
So, if you do not have a body composition scale, you need to get one.
Body Fat Percentage
Weight is not the only variable when it comes to health and fitness.
You also want to achieve a healthier body fat percentage, which can be measured using underwater weighing, skinfold readings, and bioelectrical impedance.
Of course, an excellent body composition scale is a fast and easy way to find your body fat percentage.
The American Council on Exercise suggests the following:
In men, the average body fat percentages range from 22.9% at age 16–19 years to 30.9% at age 60–79 years.
Most men and women over 50 are too heavy based on the average body fat composition.
Seventy-five percent of adults over 20 are overweight; therefore, overfat is common.
The problem with excess fat is that it increases your cardiometabolic risk.
What is a cardiometabolic risk?
Cardiometabolic risk refers to your chances of having diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.
“Overfat is the condition of having more body fat than is good for health.
The percentage of body fat that can cause health problems, especially cardiometabolic risk, is surprisingly low.
Lohman’s criteria of suggested cutoffs >17.6% for males and >31.6% for females is widely accepted in body composition research.
However, measurable health impairments associated with ≥2 cardiometabolic abnormalities were found at DXA-derived body fat levels >15.3% in men and >29.8% in women.
Therefore, a man with more than 15.3% body fat, and a woman with more than 29.8%, are at higher health risk and are overfat.” ¹
#2. Cardiovascular Endurance
The second component of total fitness is to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
What is the cardiovascular system?
Your cardiovascular system includes respiration, blood cells, heart, and lungs.
Cardiovascular fitness is the ability to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues.
Cardio fitness is the ability of the muscles to use oxygen.
This helps you produce energy for movement.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiovascular_fitness
A sobering fact is that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.
Therefore, cardio training is one of the most critical of the 5 components of fitness for the health of your heart.
Because losing weight alone is not a fitness program.
Therefore, the most fundamental component of fitness is to improve the health of your heart.
One way to ensure that you get your cardio in for the day is to start moving before breakfast.
Both are easy on your joints and perfect for your home gym, especially if you have a low-ceiling basement or garage.
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Of course, you can get off the bus or train earlier and walk 20 or 30 minutes to your office!
The skeletal muscles are under your neural control.
Your thoughts control the movement of your skeleton.
You have no other control of your organs.
For example, you do not control your heartbeat, digestion, respiration, or other cellular processes.
You only control your ability to move.
To begin a fitness program, start moving first.
Before worrying about what you will eat, think about physical activity.
This is as simple as going for a 30-minute walk every day.
You can bike, swim, jog, ski, surf, walk, or just get more active around your home.
What is the recommendation of NASM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine?
NASM advises getting a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
For a minimum total of 150 minutes a week of physical activity.
Flexibility is the ability to perform a pain-free full range of motion in a joint or group of joints and is the third of the 5 components of fitness.
It also includes the ability of a joint to move effectively through a complete range of motion.
You need flexibility and excellent body composition for better health and fitness.
Anyone over the age of 50 probably knows that it is not so simple.
But it is far from impossible.
Just see this guy’s before and after photos after 50.
You need to start a dynamic stretching and static stretching routine to stay flexible, especially as you move beyond 50.
Can you touch your toes from a standing position?
If not, then you know where to start.
Every morning, carefully raise your arms over your head and then bend to touch your toes.
You can do the same with a simple sit and reach test.
Sit on the floor and see if you can reach your toes.
Start with one repetition and work up to ten.
Hold each stretch for up to 30 seconds, without bouncing.
You should stretch every single day.
Do NOT let your body get stiff.
Walk, stretch, work out, and do yoga.
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#4. Muscular Endurance
You need to build your muscular strength and endurance.
What is muscular endurance?
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to perform repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time.
It is the fourth building block of health-related fitness, along with cardio fitness, healthy body composition, and muscular strength.
A common fitness assessment for muscular endurance is the push-up test, where you do as many push-ups as possible in 60 seconds.
You can improve your muscular endurance by doing normal activities for a longer duration.
For example, you can extend your continuous walking time up to 30 minutes.
Once you can do thirty minutes, walk up to forty-five minutes or an hour.
Or you can bike, swim or do the elliptical for a longer period of time.
Another great workout that builds incredible muscular endurance, as well as strength, is the 20-rep squat program.
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However, when you are starting out on your fitness journey, running, walking, or the elliptical is the safest bet.
Gradual improvement is always better than burning yourself out for a week and dropping your training altogether.
Remember, the best workout is the one you stick with.
So do not burn yourself out!
#5. Muscular Strength
Muscular strength is the fifth key ingredient of fitness.
Definition of Muscular Strength
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), muscular strength is the maximal amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert during a single contraction against resistance.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) defines strength as “the ability of the neuromuscular system to produce internal tension (in the muscles and connective tissues that pull on the bones) to overcome an external force or external load.
Muscular strength is important not only for sports performance but also for day-to-day life, as it supports lifting and moving about the environment.
Maximal strength, specifically, is “the maximum force an individual’s muscle can produce in a single voluntary effort, regardless of the rate of force production (NASM 2018).”
Most fascinating is that “strength is considered a neuromuscular adaptation, which means it is largely dependent on the nervous system’s ability to communicate with the muscular system as demonstrated by Weier, Pearce & Kidgell (2012), who found that the brain displayed structural changes in the beginning weeks of a strength training program.” (NASM)
See NASM OPT Model; A Guide to Optimum Performance Training and the Top 12 Tips To Pass NASM CPT Exam On Your First Try if you are pursuing NASM CPT Certification.
How to Measure Strength
Muscular strength is usually measured with a one-rep maximum (1RM) test.
During a 1RM, some exercisers will perform one repetition of a single exercise, for example, the leg press, to see how much weight you can lift.
For example, what is the maximum amount of weight you can deadlift one time?
Having said that, please do not attempt to find out!
Especially if you have no training.
Therefore, the best practice is to use a one-rep max calculator to estimate your 1 repetition max.
See Hashi Mashi’s one rep max deadlift calculator for more details.
So, suffice it to say that strong muscles are one of your best friends.
Stronger muscles make everything easier in your life.
Getting in and out of your car, walking, leisure, just your normal activities of daily living.
With stronger muscles, you become more functional.
In addition, building muscle mass improves your metabolism and can reverse insulin resistance.
If you want to determine your 1 rep max for deadlifting or any other strength training, see the 1 Rep Max Deadlift Calculator + Squat, Bench in 5 Easy Steps.
Build Muscle or Lose Fat First?
Cardio fitness and body composition, are two steps of your journey to better health and fitness.
Most people can spend between six months and a year getting into the habit of a daily exercise routine and smarter eating habits.
But, it is much easier to get your eating under control than trying to lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
Especially if you are significantly overweight or obese.
Once you are at a more comfortable weight, you can start building strength.
You do not necessarily need to use heavy weights in a gym.
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When you are ready for weights, you can get started with basic barbell training.
You only need a handful of core compound barbell exercises to build muscle mass.
Remember though, you can never out-train a bad diet.
If you think that weightlifting and having a thanksgiving meal every day of the week will get you lean, forget about it.
You need to first get into the habit of daily physical activity and viewing food as fuel, not just entertainment.
Then you can start a more focused strength-building plan.
An excellent resource for weight lifting is Mark Rippetoe’s classic book Starting Strength.
- Mark Rippetoe (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 347 Pages - 11/11/2011 (Publication Date) - The Aasgaard Company (Publisher)
5 Components of Fitness – Wrapping Up
To sum up, these are the 5 components of fitness;
- Body Composition
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Muscular Endurance
- Muscular Strength
And this is your acronym to use for the 5 components of health related fitness mnemonic: BCF ME MS:
- Body Composition
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Muscular Endurance
- Muscular Strength
Knowing the 5 components of physical fitness definition can motivate you to take action:
- Get active, at the minimum, physical activity like walking for 30 minutes a day.
- Eat real food
- Start a strength training routine, even at home, with deadlifts, push-ups, and squats.
- Walk for up to an hour at a shot on weekends.
- Start stretching, even simple stretches to improve your flexibility.
Now you know the answer to what are the 5 components of fitness and why they are so important to improve your level of fitness.
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¹ https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-09-19/obesity-in-america-a-guide-to-the-public-health-crisis – Obesity in America: A Public Health Crisis – Obesity is a public health issue and the Hashi Mashi plan can help more than 100 million adults and children in the U.S.