What is Fitness & Why is it Important (Pt.II: Physical Skills)

Ask yourself, what is Fitness? How would you define fitness? What does fitness look like and mean to you? Who are the most FIT individuals you know?

Are triathletes the fittest individuals? They have great endurance and stamina to swim, bike, run long distances and have minimal body fat. What about their strength, power and speed? Are bodybuilders or weightlifters the fittest individuals? They have great strength, power and flexibility. But what about their speed, endurance and stamina?

CrossFit uses 4 models to define one’s level of fitness

  1. 10 general physical skills
  2. Performance of athletic tasks
  3. Energy Systems that drive all human action
  4. Health Markers.

In Part II of this series, I will talk about the first model; the 10 general physical skills.

These physical skills are:

  1. Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance—The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen, how well does our body use the air we breathe.
  2. Stamina—The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy, how well does our body use food and drink.
  3. Strength—The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force, how much weight can we lift.
  4. Flexibility—The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint, how easy is it for our body to get into a physical position.
  5. Power—The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time, how fast can the body move a weight.
  6. Speed—The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement, how quickly the body can move with bodyweight or with an object.
  7. Coordination—The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement, how easy and efficient the body moves when performing a task that requires multiple body parts to move.
  8. Agility—The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another, how quickly the body can move from one position to another.
  9. Balance—The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base, how controlled the body is when performing a task.
  10. Accuracy—The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity. How well the body or body part can be moved to perform the required task.

(Thanks to Jim Cawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax)

CrossFit believes that in order to improve FITNESS, individuals need to work on ALL 10 physical skills through training and practice. The high-level CrossFit athletes are really good at all 10 Physical Skills.

TRAINING causes a physical change with our bodies that improves our 1) Endurance 2) Stamina 3) Strength and 4) Flexibility.

By contrast PRACTICE causes better communication between the brain, nervous system and muscles while performing a task to improve our 7) Coordination 8) Agility 9) Balance and 10) Accuracy.

5) Power and 6) Speed are adaptations of both training and practice. Meaning, to improve Power and Speed an individual needs to have a physical change with the body as well as better communication between brain, nerves and muscles.

CrossFit’s definition of FITNESS starts with 10 Physical Skills that individuals desiring to live a healthier life should strive to improve through training and practice.