Looking up the components of fitness for an assignment? Or maybe you’re just looking to expand your current training plan…
Whatever it is that you’re looking for, we’ve got everything you need to know about all the health and skill-related fitness components, including:
- Their components of fitness definition
- The benefits of training them
- How to test for them
- Exercise suggestions for each
What are the components of fitness?
To give an accurate components of fitness definition, we first need to define what ‘fitness’ itself means as a holistic term.
According to the Oxford dictionary, fitness is ‘the condition of being physically fit and healthy.’ If we take this simple knowledge and then begin to break down the meaning of ‘fitness’ into different categories, we have the components of fitness.
To be in peak fitness, it’s vital for an individual to train with each of these components in mind.
Many sources list off the components of fitness and leave it there… but that’s not what we’re about.
We’re going to dive right into the health and skill-related fitness components, as well as giving you a full description of what each one is and examples of how it works.
By the end of the article, you’ll have everything you need to focus on each area of your fitness and make the most out of your workouts!
Health-related components of fitness
#1 - Cardiovascular Endurance
First things first, we all know how difficult it is to exercise when our lungs feel like collapsing. Lack of cardiovascular endurance is usually what causes many of us to give up on exercise when it starts to get tough…
This is what makes it one of the most important health-related components of fitness to work on, and so it should probably be a high priority if you haven’t done much exercise in a while.
In simple terms, it’s the body’s ability to perform aerobic exercise for an extended period of time.
It relies on the heart, lungs, and blood vessels to work in unison to ensure the proper transportation of oxygen and nutrients to tissues within the body, as well as removing metabolic waste.
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By strengthening the function of your cardiovascular/circulatory system through regular exercise, you can significantly improve your cardio endurance (and therefore your ability to perform long-duration or high-intensity exercise!).
How to Test Your Cardiovascular Endurance
There are a few methods that have been proven to work well for testing cardio endurance.
It’s plain to see why as a fitness enthusiast or newbie, you would want to learn how to test your cardiovascular endurance; it is one of the components of fitness that people struggle with the most when beginning a new training routine.
Those new to fitness will want to improve it to feel fitter and more in control of their body, while those who have been training for a while typically want to improve it to compete in intense sporting events such as a marathon or triathlon.
It’s important to identify your current cardio endurance before trying to train it, as you can monitor your progress and push harder in each session.
There are a few different test methods, but one of the best to try is the Three-Minute Step test.
The Three-Minute Step test is one of the quickest ways of testing this component of fitness. To complete it, you need a 12-inch step/bench, stopwatch, and a metronome (which you can find for free online).
- Measure your pulse beforehand (1 minute)
- Set the metronome to 96 and follow the beat
- Use the bench to step up and down consistently within the time frame
- Count your pulse afterwards (1 minute)
- Measure how long it takes for your heart rate to return from this rate to normal, then record the difference
Now you know how to test your cardiovascular endurance, there’s no stopping you from making the progress you want to see!
Benefits of Cardiovascular Endurance Training
As one of the most important health-related components of fitness, it’s fair to say that cardio endurance has its benefits when trained regularly.
Not only can it increase your general exercise capability (therefore aiding how well the other components of fitness work), but it protects you from a number of health risks further down the line.
Cardio endurance training:
- Strengthens heart muscle
- Increases lung capacity
- Regulates blood pressure
- Reduces stress/enhances mood
- Lowers unhealthy cholesterol
- Aids sleep
- Prevents obesity (gives the metabolism a boost)
Fastest Ways to Improve Cardiovascular Endurance
When looking to improve your lifestyle, it’s a good idea to be armed with the fastest ways to improve cardiovascular endurance.
For cardio endurance, these exercises aren’t necessarily hard to guess… however, let’s jump right in. Who knows, you might find something you haven’t tried before!
#1 - Jogging
Jogging is a great option for those looking to work on this component of fitness, especially as it can be done either outside or on a treadmill/elliptical trainer.
The most effective way to train endurance this way is to start off with a set distance and to gradually increase this distance with each session. For example, you might start with a 15-minute run, and aim to build it up to 35 minutes within a month or two.
This is a good method for increasing cardio endurance as one of the components of fitness, and you can physically see it improving each week!
#2 - Cycling
While it’s slightly trickier to improve cardio endurance with cycling if you’re starting from scratch, it’s definitely worth a try if you prefer it to jogging.
To give it a real boost, you should ride at a speed of around 10mph. Your heart rate will soar, and your breathing will quicken as your lower body muscles ache for oxygen. This is a great sign, and you should push as far as you can, just as you would on a vigorous jog.
You might start with a 15-20 minute ride, and aim to build it up as you would with running duration. As long as the duration climbs with each ride, you’re working on one of your most important components of fitness!
#3 - Swimming
Swimming is fantastic for improving cardio endurance as it requires work from a larger range of muscles than jogging or cycling does, and burns a good amount of calories.
The best way to use it to train for this type of endurance is to swim at intervals of 50, 100, then 200 yards, with short rest periods in between each set.
As with the previous exercises, be sure to increase the length of each set whilst taking shorter rest periods as time goes on, and you’ll see an improvement over time!
#4 - Active Sports
Any sport that requires you to get active is good for building cardio endurance, not only physically but mentally. Some people prefer sports, especially if they are extroverted, as they are sometimes bored by solitary exercises.
Sports that are good for endurance include:
The truth is, you can modify most exercises to suit your needs when looking to improve cardio endurance. Just be sure to keep it gradual and progressive, and you can’t go far wrong!
#2 - Muscular Endurance
The components of fitness definition for muscular endurance focus on similar ideals as cardio endurance. However, there are some differences mainly because of how unalike the cardio muscles and skeletal muscles are.
Muscular endurance refers to the fatigue resisting ability of skeletal muscles when they are contracted using less than the maximal force for an extended time period.
In other words, it measures how long a muscle is able to tolerate a high-amount of repetitions with a light weight (rather than aiming for 7-12 reps with a heavy weight).
When training and learning how to test your muscular endurance, you should have a holistic approach (especially if you’re into sports or looking to compete in fitness events).
Endurance is different to strength, and strength is different to tone. What they all have in common though is that they complement each other when trained in unison, and you shouldn’t train one without the other if you’re looking for optimal results!
Muscular endurance is often the most overlooked out of the three, so it’s definitely worth learning both how to test your muscular endurance and how to improve it.
How to Test Your Muscular Endurance
You may be shredded and not feel the need to test this, or you may be a newbie eager to give it a try…
No matter your skill level, you should definitely check out where you stand with one of the most important health-related components of fitness. After all, it can help you out in a number of everyday life situations as well as during exercise and sports!
One great way of learning how to test your muscular endurance is by checking out the Push-up Test.
This is a simple yet effective way of measuring the muscular endurance of most of the muscle groups in your body.
- Warm-up beforehand
- Start in a standard push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart
- Ensure your arms are at around 90 degrees at the bottom of the push-up
- Perform as many as you can without fatiguing or breaking form
- Record your total amount of push-ups and compare them to the average amount for your gender and age!
Benefits of training muscular endurance
Muscular endurance isn’t just about training your muscles to sustain long periods of training, although this is one of the most focused on benefits of training muscular endurance!
When done frequently, it actually works to prevent injury, age-related decline in muscle, and a host of other things. This is what makes it one of the best health-related components of fitness to work on within our list.
Exercise to Improve Muscular Endurance
Whether you’re an athlete or completely new to fitness, finding the right types of exercise to improve muscular endurance is vital. If you’re serious about this kind of training, you’ll go to great lengths to find how you can optimise your routine to target it.
Luckily, we’ve done all the hard work for you! You can find the best exercises for endurance in this area below.
#1 - Push-ups
You’ll notice that this is the exercise mentioned the most when you’re looking at how to test your muscular endurance, so it’s no surprise that it’s also used to train it!
Push-ups target many muscles in your body (being a total body exercise), so they should be one of your go-to exercises when looking to train your muscles in this way...
#2 - Planks
Planks will improve the endurance of your glutes, back, shoulders, hamstrings, and abs. They’re similar to push-ups in this sense, but definitely serve as a great way to mix things up.
You can alternate between planks and moving planks for progression, and side planks also work a treat for your obliques!
#3 - Squats
Want to exercise to improve muscular endurance in your legs/lower body? If so, you can’t go wrong with squats. They work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, obliques, abs, and more. Just be sure to engage your abs and glutes for the best results.
You can start out with bodyweight squats, and then progress to barbell front or back squats when you’re more confident!
#4 - Sit-ups
Who said that muscular endurance in your core wasn’t as important as the rest?...
As long as you engage your core properly and perform the correct amount of reps, you’ll be able to reap the benefits and truly use this exercise to improve muscular endurance.
We’d recommend 3 sets of 10-20 reps if you’re training for endurance. However, if you want to use sit-ups to build muscular strength and tone in the core, stick to around 7-10 reps at a time. Always perform 3 sets and no more than this!
#5 - Lunges
Lunges are a great lower body exercise to improve muscular endurance and are arguably as effective as squats. In fact, they actually train the inner thigh muscles that are difficult to reach through other exercises.
They work your hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core, but only if you engage the core and glutes properly (as we keep saying!).
If you’re looking to train for exercises such as running, active sports, powerlifting, etc. then this exercise will be essential for developing that lower body endurance.
#3 - Strength
When taking a good look at the health-related components of fitness, they usually confuse strength and muscular endurance. Just in case you haven’t quite picked up on it yet, here’s a quick recap:
Muscular endurance refers to how long your muscles can work for without fatiguing, while muscular strength is all about how much force your muscles can exert in one blow.
We’re about to explain more below, so don’t panic if you’re scratching your head and wondering how strength training is different to training muscular endurance.
How to Test Your Muscular Strength
Testing your muscular strength is a little more complicated than testing the components of fitness that we’ve already covered. It relies heavily on which muscle group you want to test the strength of, so there isn’t really a holistic approach!
However, here are some tips to teach you how to test your muscular strength effectively:
- Select the muscles/muscle group that you wish to test the strength of
- Choose a weight or resistance that you can use multiple times before fatigue (for 7-10 reps)
- Work to exhaustion (you can’t perform any more reps)
- Record how many reps you reached and the weight used
- Use the results to estimate your 1RM (one repetition maximum)
Your 1RM equates to the maximum amount of weight that you’re able to lift during a certain exercise.
To calculate it, use the following equation:
Let’s say you deadlifted 20kg for 7 reps, and then your muscules fatigued. Your 1RM equation would look something like this:
(0.033 x 7 x 20) + 20 = 24.62
24.62 is approximately 25kg, so this would be the maximum weight that you could lift for deadlifts.
You can use this equation to test pretty much any strength exercise, particularly with weights.
Your 1RM will increase with time as you train strength regularly. Now that you know how to test your muscular strength you can check on it every few weeks and increase your load!
Health Benefits of Muscular Strength Training
It’s no secret that training strength has a great impact on body composition and performance in active sports.
However, if you need one final push to zone in on this area, you should check out the health benefits of muscular strength training. You may be surprised!
- Builds and maintains muscle mass as you age
- Boosts mood and energy levels
- Aids bone health
- Burns excess calories (improves metabolic rate)
- Shreds excess fat stores
- Improves other components of fitness (cardiovascular endurance, coordination, and balance)
Components of Fitness: Strength and How to Build It
When we talk about building strength, a quick way to approach it would be to perform similar exercises to those that build muscular endurance, but to switch the ‘go for as long as you can’ method to a set amount of reps at higher-intensity.
If you want to progress from only bodyweight training to exercises that will take strength training further, then here’s a quick-fire list to try out:
- Bicep curls with dumbbells
- Dumbbell rows
- Barbell squats
- Barbell lunges
- Tricep dips
#4 - Flexibility
This is where things start to get fun for those who want to try something different with their current routine!
You don’t have to start doing backflips in the gym to work on flexibility, mind. What we mean by flexibility in this scenario is more to do with how your joints move through their full ROM (range of motion).
The main reason for flexibility being a little different to the previously mentioned components of fitness is that it’s more about your body’s ability to move rather than how it looks and performs, and is often trained by stretching.
How to Test For Flexibility
Whether you’re looking up how to test for flexibility for yourself or a client, we’ve got everything you need to know in this section.
The most common way to test flexibility is through the sit and reach test. It doesn’t require a lot of time, but can give you an accurate idea of how flexible you are, and also be used to measure your progress from flexibility training.
NOTE: you need a ‘sit and reach box’, or a ruler and a wooden box or bench.
Check out the method in the video below!
Tips for the sit and reach test:
- Complete the test without shoes for accurate results
- Keep your legs and knees straight, and have your feet flat against the box
- When leaning forward, do it slowly and steadily
- Be sure to reach as far as you can
- Repeat the test three times, and calculate the average result
Long Term Benefits of Flexibility Training
Sure, the long term benefits of flexibility training could involve being able to perform all the handstands and cartwheels you thought you’d never be able to do. However, this shouldn’t be your only focus!
Flexibility training has many benefits, including those that aid your health rather than giving you the ability to do party tricks. Check them out below:
- Increases athletic performance (due to growing ROM (range of motion)
- Reduces chance of injury during physical activity
- Eases muscle aches, pains, and cramps
- Improves balance and posture
- Quickens recovering after exercising (improves blood flow)
Exercises to Improve Your Flexibility
Flexibility is one of the most important health-related components of fitness as it ties a lot of the more physically demanding aspects together (such as training for strength and endurance).
Flexibility exercises can be used both pre and post-workout to stretch your connective tissues, and lengthen them with regular practise. This boosts you range of motion and ability to perform other exercises.
The best exercises to improve your flexibility are as follows.
#1 - Dynamic warm-ups
Dynamic warm-ups such as lunges, toe touches, bridges, hip flexor stretches, etc. are a great starting point for those looking for exercises to improve their flexibility.
They target specific muscle groups and joints over time and cause them to loosen up and move more freely.
#2 - Yoga
If you’re looking for a super-effective yet low-impact method of improving your flexibility, yoga should be at the top of your list. The difficulty ranger from beginner to highly advanced, so it’s never too early or too late to start!
You can also practice yoga at home as all you need is a mat and some video tutorials, which you can find on YouTube or various fitness sites.
#3 - Dancing
The main reason for dancing being on the list of the best exercises for increasing flexibility is that the movements involved lengthen your joints and muscle tissues with regular practice.
It’s one of the quickest and easiest methods, and for some the most enjoyable (especially if you enjoy working out with others).
#5 - Body Composition
Unlike some of the other health-related components of fitness, achieving an optimal body composition is actually one of the main goals of every exercise routine. Priorities can vary, but keeping an eye on excess fat stores isn’t often overlooked.
So, what does the term body composition actually mean?
To be more specific, body composition refers to the amount of body fat mass that you’re storing in comparison to fat-free mass, which is made up of organs, muscles, and bone etc.
It’s a well-known fact that a lower body fat mass to muscle mass ratio is better for your health, and will ultimately make your body appear leaner and healthier.
How to Test Your Body Composition
There are a few different ways to check on your body composition, or as it is otherwise known, your body fat percentage. It may be useful to check out our article on the different types of body fat first if you want to know more about this topic!
Some are difficult to perform (who has the time for hydrostatic weighing?), while others are expensive.
However, here’s how to test your body composition in the easiest, most in-expensive way in our eyes:
You can pick up your own calliper from Amazon for as little as £2.99.
Want to test your body fat percentage this way to get a better idea of your overall composition? Check out the product below, and find yourself a body fat percentage measurement chart online!
Baosity Body Fat Caliper - Available on Amazon.
Benefits of Good Body Composition
It may be a no-brainer, but the importance of maximising the state of your body composition through exercise and nutrition is huge. As we touched upon before, every exercise routine in existence should aim for this, and if it doesn’t then it really isn’t worth going for!
Every component on this list links back to body composition in some way, which displays just how much of a target it should be in every exercise that you complete.
The main benefits of good body composition showcase it as one of the most important health-related components of fitness, and you can see them below.
A good body composition:
- Creates a toned, lean figure
- Boosts the body’s functional capability
- Speeds up metabolic rate (torches calories even when resting)
- Prevents heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
- Encourages permanent weight loss
Methods of Training Body Composition
Considering the fact that most exercises aim to improve body composition in some way, it’s difficult to pinpoint exercises that specifically target this component of fitness.
However, to achieve peak fitness you should be aiming to improve each component on our list. If you do this, you will be improving body composition along the way without realising it!
In terms of selecting methods of training body composition, it all comes down to a matter of choice and what will help you to create a sustainable exercise routine. Once you’re exercising often and practising good nutrition, your body composition will inevitably change.
Here’s some suggestions of exercises that you can try to improve body composition:
#1 - HIIT training
This is especially helpful for those looking to decrease excess fat stores without slaving away on the treadmill for hours.
You can do bodyweight HIIT at home for around 20 mins 3-4 times per week, and see a big improvement!
Using weights will be more helpful for building muscle mass though, so be sure to mix up your routine for big changes in body composition.
#2 - Circuit Training
If HIIT is a little too intense for you (going all out for 20-40 seconds is harder than it looks), you can always try circuit training. Circuit training is similar to HIIT on the surface, but you usually complete the circuits back-to-back rather than having a rest period.
There is debate on the topic, but circuit training is also seen to be more effective in building muscle mass than HIIT training, depending on what weights are used in each. Give both a try and see what works best for you!
#3 - Strength training
You can’t go wrong with strength training when looking for methods of training body composition. It’s arguably the best, as lifting weights is great for torching fat and building muscle and can get you the fastest results!
If you have access to a gym or are looking into building your own gym at home, we’d highly recommend trying strength training or powerlifting.
Skill-Related Components of Fitness
#6 - Power
You may have heard people referring to ‘explosive power’, especially when posting their box jumps on Instagram.
What they’re actually referring to is this component of fitness, which is especially helpful for power athlete sports.
If you’ve ever seen high jumpers, gymnasts, discus throwers, or Olympic weightlifters at the Olympics, you’ve been a witness to how power is one of the most impressive skill-related components of fitness!
In a nutshell, it is the ability to apply maximum force as quickly as possible. Speed and strength actually come under ‘power’ as a fitness component, but can also be viewed on their own.
Benefits of Explosive Power Training
While it is a skill-based element of fitness, power training does have a mixture of benefits, including those that concern your health.
Interested in becoming a power athlete or improving your performance in sports such as football, basketball, etc.? Power training is definitely for you.
Not a fan of sports, but want to work on every component of fitness to achieve maximal health? You’ll still reap the benefits of explosive power training, which include:
- Improved cardiovascular function
- Enhanced strength (due to large muscle groups being contracted at a rapid pace)
- Increased endurance as time goes on (the body uses less effort to produce force)
- Rapid calorie burning (through the intensity that the muscles are used during the workout)
- Boosted overall performance in sports and athletics
How to Train for Explosive Power
#1 - Kettlebell Swings
As they are a full-body movement that is also classed as a ‘hip hinge’, swings are great for building explosive power in the hip.
This is extremely helpful to athletes and those that wish to perform squats and deadlifts, as with the proper hip extension and glute activation trained during the swing is used in exercises that require power.
If you want to know more, you can actually check out this full guide on using kettlebell swings to build explosive power.
#2 - Squat Jumps
Want to train hip extension even more, as well as putting the focus on your lower body?
Try squat jumps! They’re incredibly helpful if you don’t have a box lying around, as they can be done anywhere.
You can progress to weighted squat jumps too to involve even more resistance, and train your power further.
#3 - Box Jumps
A plyometric power move that will send your competition running…
The quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings are trained during this move, so you’ll benefit from improved muscular tone and mass as well as the general speed and springiness that moves like this bring to your body!
Practise these on a regular basis, and thank us later.
#4 - Medicine balls
Medicine balls are a great way to train for explosive power in the upper body. Training power in your legs and lower body is great, but you definitely shouldn’t overlook this area!
Not only will they give you a nice boost in the strength and conditioning of your upper body, but you’ll benefit from greater muscle mass too.
#7 - Speed
When we look at the components of fitness definition for speed, it refers to the ability to complete a certain physical activity as fast as possible.
This could be a marathon or a 100-metre sprint, which are polar opposites. Or, it could be to get from one end of a rugby pitch to the other and score a try without getting tackled.
Due to the fact that speed can be used in so many different ways, it’s important that you complete the speed training that is best for you and your chosen sport/activity.
However, if you’re just looking to improve speed in general to benefit your fitness, you can choose whichever way suits you best.
Benefits of Training for Speed
As you may have guessed, speed training doesn’t come without its benefits! We’ve got a quick list to give you a reason to train it other than wanting to get faster.
The benefits of training for speed include:
- Injury prevention (improves your range of motion and flexibility)
- Improved cardiovascular endurance
- Better metabolic rate and fat burning
- Increase in bone strength
- Muscle growth (particularly in the lower body, as it is high-intensity rather than long-duration)
How to Test Your Speed in Fitness
First things first, before you begin to train for speed, you need to test your current maximum.
The best way to learn how to test your speed in fitness is the 40 yard dash method, as no matter the distance that you plan to cover with a certain speed, you can work out everything you need to know from sprinting a short distance.
Here’s the method:
- Use a measuring device to mark a distance of 40 yards (36.58 metres)
- Get someone to time your sprint with a stopwatch
- Record your timing
It’s really that simple! From this, you can work out your maximum running speed over a certain time-frame and distance. Simply multiply your results from the distance of 40 yards and whatever your timing was.
The great thing about speed testing is that you can also use this 40 yard dash to train your speed, by constantly aiming to break your personal best.
Best Exercises to Improve Speed
If you’re looking to run faster in either sprints, long-distance runs, or sports, the following exercises will give you a good boost!
Building muscle mass and strength in the lower-body will be extremely beneficial, as well as getting used to the motion of running itself.
#1 - Deadlifts
When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense for deadlifts to be used as one of the best exercises to improve speed.
While they don’t involve the same motion as running, they do build strength and mass in the lower-body and core as well as building the force your body needs to push off against the ground as you run.
#2 - Box jumps
They’re great for building power, but also tie into the speed element of things. Force and power come from the same neck of the woods, and both are important for generating speed during physical activity.
Box jumps condition your body to adapt to ‘switching on’ when it needs to during activity, and so you’ll be able to run a lot faster when needed with regular practice.
#3 - Tyre flips
While they work your entire body, tyre flips work well to build on the force in your lower-body. They condition your mental toughness as well as your body, and overtime you’ll develop the ability to push harder than you ever thought you could.
If you can adapt to the force it takes to shift the tyre at speed then just imagine what your body can do against the ground with no added resistance!
#4 - Sled pushes
Similarly to how tyre flips encourage your body to travel at a higher-speed under pressure, sled pushes condition you for speed beyond belief.
The added benefit here is that you can load them up to be as heavy as you wish, so they’re great for progressing! Want to run like Usain Bolt? Get yourself down to the gym and give this a go.
#8 - Agility
The quick definition of agility is that it refers to the ability to move swiftly and with ease during physical activity.
However, it also involves being able to change direction effectively and without injury. It’s one of the skill-related fitness components as it comprises of keeping the body under control at high-speed, and really takes some learning!
It doesn’t have a huge impact on health directly, but it certainly wards off injury and aids the body in completing more health-based workouts.
Benefits of Agility Training
Heard about those nasty ACL injuries? One of the best known benefits of agility training is that it can help you to avoid tearing your ACL. Check out OriGym’s article on avoiding ACL injuries for more info!
However, other benefits include:
- Other prevention of injuries (lower back, ligament damage, etc.)
- Recovery time boost (through constructing a stronger musculoskeletal system)
- Enhanced cognitive function
How to Train Your Agility
The following exercises are great for learning how to train your agility over time, and you should include them in your regular exercise routine, especially if you practise sports.
#1 - Cone drills
There a few different cone drills that you can try out to train agility, but two of our favourites include the cone taps and cone shuffles.
Cone taps are great for strengthening the muscles in your ankles and feet, which are of course the base for movement during sports.
Cone shuffles train your quads and hamstrings whilst simultaneously allowing you to get a grip of where your feet should be in relation to your toes.
#2 - Ladder drills
Remember back at school when you would run up and down those agility ladders?
If not, check out the video below for a quick demo. There are endless possibilities, and you can use this one piece of equipment to train agility in both your upper and lower body!
Ladder drills will train you cognitively as well as physically, and over time you will develop a skill for moving rapidly yet under control. Your focus will improve as well as your memory retention.
This is extremely important for those participating in sports, but also beneficial for fitness newbies!
#3 - Plyometric box drills
One of the most popular exercise methods on our list for training various components of fitness is that of the plyometric box.
For agility, mix box jumps with lateral step-overs, step-ups, lateral jumps, etc. for a well-rounded workout!
#9 - Coordination
When talking about the skill-related fitness components, it’s impossible not to give coordination some thought.
It refers directly to your capacity to maintain control over your body’s movements, especially those that concern the limbs. This is why athletes that participate in sports such as football, basketball, tennis, and golf need flawless hand/eye coordination to succeed.
By improving your coordination, you will do better in a number of sports and physical activities as well as improving cognitive function!
How to Test Your Coordination
A good indicator of how strong your hand/eye coordination is in its current state is the tennis ball test.
It’s a great way of challenging how well your coordination works under pressure, and of training it with regular practice.
- Make a mark on a wall with some tape, as well as a mark on the floor (around 2-3 metres away)
- Grab a tennis ball and stand behind the line
- Throw the ball from an underarm position against the wall, aiming for the marker, and catch it in the opposite hand
- Alternate between the hands, always aiming for the mark
- Test yourself for around 30 seconds, measuring the amount of successful catches
Improve over time by practising this method and beating your personal best, as well as performing the exercises in the exercise section below.
Exercises to Improve Your Hand-Eye Coordination
We’ll be honest here, improving coordination is pretty fun compared to other exercises.
However, it’s more of a game than actually working on body composition etc., so definitely only practice it in short bursts daily and remember to stay focused on a proper fitness routine also!
#1 - Juggling
Yes, we’re serious. Juggling is great for improving hand/eye coordination and will help you our in your chosen sport if you practise it in short bursts on a daily basis.
It’s great for learning how to keep a beat in your movements, especially in pressurised situations.
#2 - Tennis ball dribbling
Used to dribbling with basketballs? Give tennis balls a try, and you’ll shoot past your opposition in your next game.
Dribbling with tennis balls improves your coordination by providing a much more difficult and unpredictable experience. If you nail these, then there’s nothing stopping you from becoming the best dribbler on your team.
#3 - Skipping
You’ll be thrilled to know that there are in fact some exercises to improve your hand-eye coordination that also benefit your cardiovascular health. One of those exercises is skipping.
It might sound easy, but have you ever tried double-unders? Give them a try and you’ll soon learn that you could do with some practice. Nail these and you’re good to go!
#10 - Balance
Although pretty self-explanatory, that doesn’t mean that balance isn’t one of the skill-related fitness components that you shouldn’t work on. It’s actually pretty difficult when put into practice… let us show you what we mean!
Benefits of Improving Balance in the Body
Whether you’re going to be competing in sports, running a marathon, or doing some low-impact exercise in your spare time, working on your balance will certainly benefit you.
It will even help you in your everyday life, especially with injury prevention. It could even spare you a broken bone or two during your lifetime!
The benefits of improving balance in the body include:
- Enhanced performance during sports and athletic activities
- Improved cognitive function
- Increased injury prevention, even during everyday life
Exercises to Train Your Balance
There are a few different options for those looking to work on their balance, and they’re quite varied too.
From certain exercise classes to using specific pieces of equipment tailor-made for balance, here’s the best exercises to train your balance!
#1 - Balance boards
Yes, they exist! And they come in different shapes and sizes. Some look like flying saucers, and others look like skateboards.
What they all have in common is that with regular use, they can train your body and mind to work together and optimise your balancing skills. You won’t be struggling to simultaneously keep upright and move for long...
#2 - Squats
A well-known exercise for those that don’t like change, squats are great for improving balance.
If you take the time to perfect your bodyweight squat form first (using flat shoes), and then progress to weights afterwards, your body will adjust to maintaining balance under pressure.
#3 - Tai Chi
You can either visit a group tai chi class or practise it alone in your living room.
However you choose to do it, tai chi increases ankle flexibility and overall stability through its slow and calculated movements. It teaches you so shift your weight from one body area to another, all whilst keeping perfectly balanced.
#4 - Yoga
If you want something a little more skill-related than tai chi, you should definitely give yoga a try for improving your balance.
Poses that are especially good for improving balance include the tree, extended triangle, high lunge, chair, and the half-moon.
When practising these movements, be sure to maintain awareness through each transition and master each one before upping your speed. Creating a great base to build your yoga skills upon will improve your balance from the get-go.
#11 - Reaction Time
Last but not least on our list of the 11 components of fitness, we have reaction time!
This component of fitness is sometimes included with coordination, but we feel that it deserves its own spotlight (particularly due to its importance in preventing injury during any given physical activity).
Being what it says on the tin, reaction time is the amount of time that it takes you to react to an impulse or need to move in another direction.
For example, when a swimmer hears a whistle, they kick off and begin their lengths in reaction to it. The swimmer with the best reaction time will kick off first, and therefore have an advantage over the others!
Benefits of Training Reaction Time
Reaction time can mean the difference between winning or losing in sports, so it’s definitely a component of fitness that you don’t want to overlook.
Not only that, but it can also mean avoiding a career-changing injury. These are the two no-brainer benefits of training reaction time, and also the two main reasons to start training it immediately.
How to Test Your Reaction Time
Although it’s not the most accurate method and can depend on the device that you are using, reaction times are usually tested via online tests/games.
The reason for this is that it’s almost impossible to record your own reaction time, unless it’s extremely slow!
Anyhow, one pro of knowing how to test your reaction time this way is that if you use the same device time and time again, you can compare your results and see an improvement with time.
Want to know how good your current reaction time is? Check out the Human Benchmark Reaction Time Test, and let us know how you get on!
How to Improve Your Reaction Time in Sport
We know that the method of testing your reaction time seems a little flawed. However, training your reaction time isn’t nearly as aimless, and can actually make quite a difference to your performance and injury prevention in competitive sport.
#1 - Tennis ball drills
There are a variety of tennis balls drills that you can use to improve reaction time. One is the one that we mentioned in the coordination section, that involves dribbling with a tennis ball.
As well as this, if you have a workout partner or coach you can have them stand around 2 metres in front of you, and drop two tennis balls towards the ground (without warning).
If you practise catching them on a regular basis, you’ll benefit from improved reaction time as well as coordination. Your reflexes will be sharper than ever!
#2 - Sprinting with signals
Remember what we said about the swimmer in our introduction to reaction time?
Take that and turn it into a sprint! Get your partner to signal you to start sprinting, or use an app and test yourself. Before you know it, your body and mind will get increasingly used to reacting to the signal.
Want to be the first one to the finish line each time, or act fast when you’re in danger of injuring yourself? This is the way to go!
#3 - Take a run outside
It’s more of a long-term way of learning how to improve your reaction time in sport, but outdoor training will definitely give you a boost in this area.
The first time you go trail running is always a shock. There are far more obstacles than you’ll ever encounter on your cushy indoor treadmill, and you won’t be used to dodging them at first.
Enter reaction time training! If you start to make a habit of running on uneven ground, you’ll become more accustomed to exercising in a pressurised environment, where the likelihood of injury is ever-present.
This will help you out in sports too and make the playing field and its obstacles laughable!
Before you go!
Hopefully now you have no need to ask ‘what are the components of fitness?’, as our ultimate guide on health and skill-related fitness components is the longest and most detailed one on the web!
If you’re interested in a fitness career, you can always give our team a call on 0800 002 9599, and they’ll happily talk you through which of our courses would be best for you.
Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer Want to take fitness to the next level? Become a Personal Trainer and begin an exciting new career!
Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer
Want to take fitness to the next level? Become a Personal Trainer and begin an exciting new career!