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Components of Fitness

Tancred (1995)[1] believes that: "One of the misconceptions in the sports world is that a sports person gets in shape by just playing or taking part in their chosen sport. If a stationary level of performance and consistent ability in executing a few limited skills is your goal, then engaging only in your sport will keep you there. However, sportsmen and women must participate in year-round conditioning programs if they want the utmost efficiency, consistent improvement, and balanced abilities. The bottom line in sports conditioning and fitness training is stress, not mental stress, but adaptive body stress. Sportsmen and women must put their bodies under a certain amount of stress (overload) to increase physical capabilities."

Health & Fitness

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its constitution of 1948 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

Fitness is the ability to meet the demands of a physical task.

The Components of Fitness

Basic fitness can be classified into four main components: strength, speed, stamina and flexibility. However, exercise scientists have identified nine components that comprise the definition of fitness (Tancred 1995)[1]:

  • Strength - the extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (e.g. holding or restraining an object or person)
  • Power - the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements. The two components of power are strength and speed. (e.g. jumping or a sprint start)
  • Agility - the ability to perform a series of explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions (e.g. Zigzag running or cutting movements)
  • Balance - the ability to control the body's position, either stationary (e.g. a handstand) or while moving (e.g. a gymnastics stunt)
  • Flexibility - the ability to achieve an extended range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, i.e. fat or muscle (e.g. executing a leg split)
  • Local Muscle Endurance - a single muscle's ability to perform sustained work (e.g. rowing or cycling)
  • Cardiovascular Endurance - the heart's ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it (e.g. running long distances)
  • Strength Endurance - a muscle's ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time (e.g. continuous explosive rebounding through an entire basketball game)
  • Coordination- the ability to integrate the above-listed components so that effective movements are achieved.

Of all the nine fitness elements, cardiac respiratory qualities are the most important to develop as they enhance all the other components of the conditioning equation.

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness refers to an athlete's capacity to meet the varied physical demands of their sport without reducing the athlete to a fatigued state. The components of physical fitness are (Davis 2000)[2]:

Motor Fitness

Motor Fitness refers to an athlete's ability to perform successfully in their sport. The components of motor fitness are (Davis 2000)[2]:

Improving your condition

Identify the most important fitness components for success in your sport or event. Then, design sport/event specific conditioning and training programs to enhance these fitness components and energy systems.

Conditioning Exercises

The following are examples of general conditioning exercises:

Why should I exercise regularly?

Not convinced about the benefits of a regular training regime, then read the benefits of exercising page.

I am new to training, so what should I do?

Visit the general fitness training program page to get an insight into a simple weekly training program that will help develop your general fitness level.

Tests for fitness components

Fitness Component Recognised Test
Agility Illinois Agility Test
Balance Standing Stork Test
Body Composition Skinfold measures
Cardiovascular Endurance Multistage Fitness Test
Flexibility Sit & Reach test
Muscular Endurance NCF Abdominal Conditioning Test
Power Standing Long Jump or Vertical Jump
Speed 30-metre Sprint
Strength Handgrip Dynamometer

In their research, Suni et al. (1996)[3] found that the following tests appeared to provide acceptable reliability as methods for the field assessment of health-related fitness for adults:

  • Standing on one leg with eyes open for balance
  • Side-bending of the trunk for spinal flexibility
  • Modified push-ups for upper body muscular function
  • Jump and reach and one leg squat for muscular leg function


  1. TANCRED, B. (1995) Key Methods of Sports Conditioning. Athletics Coach, 29 (2), p. 19
  2. DAVIS, B. et al. (2000) Training for physical fitness. In: DAVIS, B. et al. Physical Education and the study of sport. London: Harcourt Publishers, p.121-122
  3. SUNI, J. H. et al. (1996) Health-related fitness test battery for adults: aspects of reliability. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation77 (4), p. 399-405

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1997) Conditioning [WWW] Available from: [Accessed