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  • How Do You Start A Fitness Programme On Your Own? (Part I)

How Do You Start A Fitness Programme On Your Own? (Part I)

Step 1: Understand the components of health-related fitness

#Fitness & Health

Written by: 
Tommy Yau, 
Head of Fitness Education,
True Group

At first glance, the easiest way to start a fitness programme on your own seems to be to trawl the web for the best online fitness programmes, or Youtube for the best and most popular exercise videos. But if you take a step back and take some time to arm yourself with some fundamental knowledge about fitness, you’ll realise that a little knowledge can go a long way to help you start an effective fitness programme for any fitness goal.  

Always start with safety and effectiveness in mind. This way, you will stay focused on your goals whilst ensuring that you take good care of your body.  To do this, begin by understanding the difference between Primary (Health specific) and Secondary (Skill specific) Fitness which, including physiological components, are key components in the universe of what encompasses ‘physical fitness’. 

Here is a summary of the components which we will elaborate on in our 2-part article: 

Health-Related Skill-Related
Body Composition Agility
Cardiovascular fitness Balance
Muscular strength Coordination
Muscular endurance Power
Flexibility Speed
  Reaction Time
* Source: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 2006; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), 2000)

The first step in creating your own fitness programme is to understand the health-related aspects of physical fitness. 

Part 1: Health-Related Physical Fitness

This aspect of physical fitness is on the top of everyone’s list of reasons for embarking on an exercise programme.  

Each of its components (including body composition, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscular endurance and strength) has a strong link to good health and is related to lower risk of illness and improved quality of life. For example, moderate levels of cardiovascular fitness can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels as well as helping to look good, feel good and enjoy life. 

  1. Body Composition
    Body composition – or relative leanness - is a component that many people are concerned about as it tells us the relative amounts of muscle, fat, bone and other tissue that make up our bodies.  It is the only non-performance measurement among the health-related physical fitness components. 

    While the most accurate measurements are done in medical/scientific laboratories with underwater weighing equipment, more common equipment such as the Inbody machines found at True Fitness/TFX gyms, skinfold calipers or other methods give good estimates as well. The results of this test allow you to set goals for yourself e.g. ‘to lose 2% of body fat’ or ‘to increase strength training to improve bone density’.  Any member can request for a body composition check at our gyms at any time, so do ask our friendly team for a test and get your reading if you have not done so. 
  2. Cardiovascular Fitness
    You might have come across terms like cardiovascular endurance, aerobic fitness and cardiorespiratory fitness. These all relate to cardiovascular fitness which is the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen during sustained physical activity. 

    A VO2 Max test in a laboratory setting is considered the best measure of cardiovascular fitness but simple tests like the 1-mile run and various bicycle, step and treadmill tests will give you a good indication of your cardiovascular fitness level.
  3. Flexibility
    Flexibility relates to the range of motion (ROM) available at a joint – some experts say that flexibility relates to ROM without discomfort or pain. Flexibility is specific to each joint of the body, thus there is no general measurement of flexibility. 

    While typically measured in the lab using measurement devices such as a goniometer or flexometer, common tests such as the sit-and-reach and other tests specific to each joint can quickly give you an understanding of how flexible you are and where your weaknesses lie.
  4. Muscular Endurance
    Not to be confused with muscular strength, muscular endurance is about the muscle's ability to continue to perform without fatigue. Muscular endurance is specific to each major muscle group of the body.

    Test your muscular endurance by seeing how many repetitions you can perform for the specific muscle group being tested, e.g. number of push-ups or abdominal crunches within a specific timeframe or performed until failure. 
  5. Muscular Strength
    Muscular strength is specific to each muscle group and relates to the ability of the muscle to exert force (e.g. how much weight your legs can lift).

    In technical terms, assessments are based on one repetition maximum (1RM) - the maximum amount of resistance you can lift one time. These tests are typically conducted on resistance machines (e.g. bench press), and can be approximated by using a 10RM test.  Tests include push ups, pull ups and deadlifts. 

Note: When training or participating in any fitness test, always make sure that you move safely and check that you are using the correct technique. 

As you can see, there are many components to physical fitness and you should aim to test and train each component for all-round fitness.  Armed with this knowledge of the health-related components of physical fitness, you are now ready to go on to Part 2 where you will gain an even greater understanding of physical fitness by learning about its skill-related components. 

Continue reading “Part 2: Incorporate Skill-related fitness components

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