T Nation

9 Elements of Fitness


This is from another training web site.

Would any of you add or take away from this list?

"The 9 Key Elements of Fitness breaks down the concept of ?fitness? into each one of its constituent parts, devoting a full chapter to describing and explaining each element as follows:

Strength ? the extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (holding or restraining an object or person)

Power ? the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements (jumping or sprint starting)

Agility ? the ability to perform a series of explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions (zigzag running or cutting movements)

Balance ? the ability to control the body?s position, either stationary (eg a handstand) or while moving (eg a gymnastics routine)

Flexibility ? the ability to achieve an extended range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, ie fat or muscle (Executing a leg split)

Local Muscle Endurance ? a single muscle?s ability to perform sustained work (eg rowing or cycling)

Cardiovascular Endurance ? the heart?s ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it (eg running long distances)

Strength Endurance ? a muscle?s ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time (continuous explosive rebounding through an entire basketball game)

Co-ordination ? the ability to integrate the above listed components so that effective movements are achieved"


I would add Cressey's "28 Synergistic Factors", but these two (Your list and Cressey's) are very complementary. Thanks for the post. Also, I would be tempted to compress balance and agility (balance as a component of agility). I don't know many people who can run the length of a balance beam who can't stand on it.

I would further be tempted to explode cardiovasular endurance into VO2 max and lactate threshold and redefine "Local Muscle Endurance". Since when is rowing a LOCAL muscle endurance exercise?


How about adding, from CrossFit:

Speed-The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

Accuracy-The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.


Do not forget body comp.


Maybe when they explain it in greater detail it makes more sense. But the way it's stated here, it does not.

If you're rowing or cycling, you're certainly using more than one muscle or muscle group. Depending on the intensity of the work, both exercises will test either aerobic capacity or anaerobic power.


you can have relativly high body fat and a high level of fitness and you can be cut to the bone and generally out of shape.

I think its a very good list and can't think of anything to add to it off the top of my head

Also speed would be a combo of a couple of the 9 elements listed and I don't think accuracy should be considered as a component of fitness


Why say no to accuracy? Many quarterbacks and implement throwers, not to mention any sport that involves passing, would say otherwise. Also you could argue that after coordination accuracy is the closest that any of these traits come to expressing proper form which is important.


I'd junk accuracy because it's too broad. While QBs and highland games athletes etc. would need it. A QB's accuracy is very different than an archer or golfer's accuracy. Also, like body comp., It doesn't go hand in hand with fitness. I know lots of marksmen that are very, very accurate but are the antithesis of fit, just because someone can throw a ball, shoot a jumpshot, hit a ball, etc. doesn't mean they're fit, no offense, but Steve Bechler comes to mind.


Looks pretty well rounded. Not a bad list.


Mel Siff wrote about this topic in SuperTraining. He had eight qualities in his example

Speed Strength (power)
Structure(body mass)
Suppleness (flexibility)
Strength Endurance

He rolled these up into a polygon (eight sided in this case) and described a way of analyzing needs of a sport versus qualities the athlete had. For each category you might rate the level a particular sport requires. A simple scale could have three levels such as high, med and low.

For example, a gymnast needs high suppleness but does not need a huge amount of stamina. Using a simple template like this can aid a person on where they should focus their training relative to their sports needs and also to their own capabilities.

I have adapted this Fitness Polygon to climbing on the following page:


The accuracy one is a little gay. Quarterbacks aren't more fit just because they can throw a ball better than anyone else. Balance and co-ordination I can deal with, but if you put accuracy in there, darts players are displaying fitness whenever they throw a dart.


It all comes down to the question "fitness for what"?

Those dart players are quite fit... to play darts.

Dan "S.A.I.D." McVicker


1) True. Unless you mean generally fit (across many fields or in a randomly chosen endeavor) which is what I understood the list to be. In which case dart throwers may or may not suck.

2) If we were talking specifically about darts, why is strength in there?

3) Take the world's most accurate dart thrower to the freethrow line and suddenly he's not so "fit" anymore based solely on the condition of accuracy.


I just can't see how accuracy is a factor of physical fitness. Its a skill, yes its necassary in many sports but this doesnt mean its a factor of physical fitness.


Mental endurance and tenacity; never-quit attitude or whatever, probably.

Certainly something to address the mental side of life.



Local muscle endurance and strength endurance could be combined.


Oh man. How many elements of fitness can I list off the top of my head?


Absolute strength (static and dynamic)
Relative strength (static and dynamic)
Muscle endurance (static and dynamic)
Absolute VO2max
Relative VO2max
Tlim at VO2max
Anaerobic Threshold (as %VO2max)
Anaerobic Power
Anaerobic Capacity
Speed-strength (power)
Dynamic flexibility
Static flexibility
Efficiency/Economy of movement
General work capacity


Reaction time
Decision-making time
Internal awareness
Arousal control
Emotional control

...Did I miss anything?


My arguement is simply that accuracy can be another way to judge fitness. I do not think it is the best way or only way.

If you consider fitness in evolutionary terms as in natural selection and the more fit organism having more reproductive chances. Accuracy would certainly be a factor. Many organisms kill their prey with precise attacks to sensitive areas. Organisms must also coreectly identify threats and mating oppurtunities in their environment.

Most of us probaly wouldn't be here if our ancestor were not accurate during hunting etc.

Would accuracy be the best way to judge an athlete's fitness? No. It could be a good way to compare to athletes with similiar levels in other skills and qualities.


Accuracy might also be a function of spatial awareness and coordination.

I think I forgot "balance" in my list.