What Are The Five Components of Fitness?

Published August 2nd, 2021 by Adriana Rodrigues
Fact Checked by
Erik Rivera
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Optimal physical fitness isn‘t single-faceted. Instead, it involves various moving components (literally) that can be measured in multiple ways. 

And to achieve optimal fitness levels, you have to first define what it means. This article will go over the definition of fitness and how it breaks down into five different components. 

Fitness (n.) is the ability to do daily activities—from getting out of bed to hiking with energy, alertness, and vigor—without feeling fatigued. (1)

The fitness components can be viewed from both a sporting and health perspective. 

In health, fitness is the ability to meet daily living demands efficiently. However, in sports, fitness is specific to an athlete’s choice of sport and emphasizes particular components such as endurance and strength. 

Creating a fitness plan that includes all the components will ensure that you benefit from your daily routine in the long run. 

This article outlines the five components of fitness in order for you to do just that:

What are the Five Components of Fitness?

A fitness component is a way of analyzing a particular area of a person’s fitness. Here are the five components of fitness (2):

  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Muscular Endurance 
  • Muscular Strength 
  • Flexibility 
  • Body Composition 

1) Cardiovascular Endurance

Also known as aerobic fitness or cardiorespiratory fitness, cardiovascular endurance refers to the ability of the body to take in oxygen and distribute it to the body tissues through the heart, arteries, lungs, veins, and vessels effectively and efficiently. (3)

By exercising regularly and challenging your lungs and heart, you can improve your cellular metabolism, enhance the delivery of oxygen throughout your body, and ease your daily physical activities. 

Incorporating cardiovascular fitness in your workout routine will improve the condition of your heart and keep it healthy. Some cardiovascular exercises you can do include walking, running, swimming, cycling, circuit training, dancing, and boxing.

2) Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance contributes to the overall health of your muscles by focusing on specific muscle groups. Therefore, your focus on muscle endurance should depend on your fitness goals and health. (4

For example, if you‘re a cyclist, that may mean that you‘re focusing more on developing endurance for your leg muscles than your arms.

For everyday health, however, you may need to develop endurance in your muscles to simply carry groceries or even climb the stairs to your home.

Strength training and low-intensity weights will help you develop the endurance you need for your day-to-day activities. 

If you are an athlete and want to develop endurance for competing in a sport such as CrossFit, obstacle course races or cycling, you may need to include sport-specific activity and high-intensity strength training in your exercise routines. 

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3) Muscular Strength

This is the force that a specific group of muscles can produce in a single effort. It focuses on specific muscle groups such as the chest, back, arms or abdominals. As each muscle group requires focused strength training, you may have strong hamstrings but weak pectoral muscles or strong deltoids but weak glutes. That is why it is essential to incorporate a balanced strength training routine that focuses on all your muscle groups. (5)

You should consider your goals when developing your muscular strength. For example, if you want to stand up easily from a chair or lift a heavy box, an exercise that focuses on developing your muscular endurance will result in improved muscular strength. These exercises involve the use of lighter weights and more repetitions. 

However, if your focus is to be able to lift heavy weights at the gym to increase arm and shoulder strength, your workout regime should include lifting heavy weights with fewer repetitions. For example, bicep curls are good exercises for arm strength, while the shoulder press will develop shoulder muscle strength. 

If you’re seeking to develop multiple components of fitness, circuit training combines cardio and strength exercises that can improve your cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and muscular endurance. 

4) Flexibility

Flexibility is the range of motion around a specific joint. It is important to be flexible at any age because it can affect your coordination, balance, and agility. (6

Maintaining a full range of motion around all your joints can reduce the risk of injury and improve your athletic performance. 

Flexibility becomes more important as you get older. For instance, most elderly individuals find it challenging to reach their hands over their heads or walk without a shuffle. 

And this lack of motion in joints can affect the performance of daily activities, such as picking things from the floor or removing items on high shelves. Aging is inevitable—but maintaining mobility and protecting your joints can help you in your older age. 

The following are the simple ways you can improve your flexibility:

  • Workouts that involve dynamic stretching such as yoga, barre, Pilates, and Tai Chi. 
  • Static stretching—holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. 
  • Passive stretching—holding a stretch with the help of a partner or another part of your body.
  • Active stretching—such as when lifting your leg, use the opposing muscle to relax the stretched muscle. 
  • Isometric stretching—using resistance in static stretching to alternate between contracting and relaxing the muscle. 

5) Body Composition

Body composition is the amount of body fat versus other tissues such as skin, bones, and muscle. A high level of fat is linked with health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, maintaining a healthy body composition should be the goal of your regular workouts. (7)

The following are the various ways to measure body composition (8):

  • Talk to your trainer about how they can help you get your fat percentage tested in order to measure your limits now.
  • Buy a scale that uses bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to measure the percentage of body fat.
  • Hydrostatic testing – which involves measuring your weight on dry land then sitting on the underwater scale. If the underwater weight is lighter, the fat percentage is higher. 
  • DEXA scans are performed at radiology centers and are typically used to assess osteoporosis and measure bone density but can be used to measure your body composition. 

Your body composition naturally improves when you improve your cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance. 

Incorporating the Five Components

From this article, you can see that there are different components of physical fitness concerning both performance in sports and health.

Fitness training should involve all the components mentioned above, whether you focus on a specific sport performance or your health.

To achieve all-around fitness, you should start actively thinking about each component and how it can be incorporated into your existing fitness regime.

References and Sources:

Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research.

5 Components of Physical Fitness

Endurance Exercise (Aerobic)

The influence of strength and power on muscle endurance test performance

The Importance of Muscular Strength in Athletic Performance

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