The majority of people start a workout program like they are heading out on a cross country road trip without a road map, GPS or compass. They just head out and hope they end up at their final destination without blowing all their spending money on gas, getting a flat tire along the way or getting into an accident that could end their trip early.
Without a road map they also don’t get to see the sights along the way (i.e. the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, or the world’s largest ball of twine) and miss out on all the cool adventures that make a road trip exciting! Without a well thought out plan the trip isn’t fun, ends up taking too long, is extremely frustrating and isn’t successful!
What Does “Workout” Mean to You?
When it comes to physical activity and exercise, the word “workout” means different things to different people. Some people envision dumbbells, barbells, weight stacks, treadmills, elliptical trainers and group fitness classes. Others think about playing sports, tournaments and competitions. And then there are those that think about a walk around the block or bike ride through the park.
Merriam-Webster defines the word “workout” as:
- A practice or exercise to test or improve one’s fitness for athletic competition, ability, or performance.
- A test of one’s ability, capacity, stamina, or suitability.
So, in essence, the examples above are all correct. This series is focused on the more traditional fitness workout used to achieve very specific health and fitness goals.
Based on Merriam-Webster’s definition, it’s up to you to outline the parameters and structure around your workout program to ensure that the program helps you to achieve your goals. One way to do this is to break down a workout into different components and building it from the ground up.
Components of Fitness
In order to make exercise program design more effective, “fitness” can be broken down into various components to help better understand how the body works and how we can use exercise to improve our overall health and performance. Depending on what a person would like to accomplish, these components have been divided into “health-related” and “skill-related” components.
Health-related components of fitness are factors that pertain to how well the systems of your body work. People who are focused on improving their general health and quality of life focus on workouts designed to improve these areas.
- Body Composition: The relative percentage of body fat in comparison with lean body mass (skin, muscle, bone, organs and blood) that make up the human body.
- Cardiovascular Fitness: The ability of the circulatory system (which consists of the heart and blood vessels) to supply oxygen to working muscles during exercise.
- Flexibility: The range of motion possible within various joints.
- Muscular endurance: The ability of a muscle group to continue muscular contractions over a length of time.
- Muscular strength: The amount of force that can be produced by a muscle in a single contraction.
Skill-related components of fitness are aspects of fitness which form the basis for successful participation in sports or physical activity. They are more applicable to exercise programs designed to improve sport performance and activities that require more vigorous movement.
- Agility: The ability of the body to change direction quickly and effectively.
- Balance: The ability to maintain an upright posture while maintaining a stationary position or while moving.
- Coordination: Integration of hand and/or foot movements with the input of the senses (i.e. what we see, hear and feel).
- Power: The ability to do strength work at an explosive pace.
- Reaction Time: The amount of time it takes to react to a stimulus.
- Speed: The ability to move quickly from one point to another.
An effective workout program is a combination of many programs focused on different areas of need to produce the best overall result … a very fit and healthy individual.
To be a “fit and healthy” person you don’t have to focus on every single one of the components listed above. If you did, you might as well pay rent at your local fitness club and live there 24/7! What will be important is to better understand what each one is and how incorporating them into your overall workout program will or will not benefit the achievement of your health and fitness goals.
In future articles in the “Workout Programs for Dummies” series you will learn about each of these components and how to improve each one through effective programdesign.