What is general fitness training? How do we define it? What does it mean to be fit? Can you be fit? The American College of Sports Medicine defines physical fitness as ‘a set of attributes or characteristics that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity’. Crossfit Inc defines fitness as ‘work capacity across broad time and modal domains’. The National Strength and Conditioning Association doesn’t even offer a definition! However, it is immediately evident that physical fitness is extremely general in nature. As human beings our range of physical capabilities is vast. As a result the number of different expressions of fitness that we have is almost limitless. We are designed for general fitness training.
There are short, explosive expressions of fitness such as 60m sprints and High Jump, through to long duration displays of fitness like triathlon and ultra endurance events. We carry or propel ourselves and varying external loads, in infinite combinations. Bricklayers may carry light to moderate loads repeatedly for hours, whereas strongmen lift extremely heavy and odd shaped objects a few times.
The many Faces of General Fitness Training
There are so many facets to fitness. These include cardio respiratory endurance, flexibility, speed, agility and muscular strength, muscular power and muscular endurance. A detailed discussion of each facet is beyond the scope of this blog. However, in both the world of manual work, sports and fitness we have created an infinite blend of them. The human body does a bit of everything. We have fast twitch muscle fibres for expressions of strength, speed and power. Human muscle also contains slow twitch muscle fibres that are suited to longer duration physical activities. Our bones, tendons and ligaments form a very versatile skeleton of levers that produce a variety of movements. Human beings are generalists. When it comes to general fitness training we can turn our hand to most things.
Room for individual and specialist fitness
Whilst the human body is designed to have general fitness, there is scope for individual bias. Some of us are born with physical and physiological characteristics that predispose us to certain types of physical activity. For example, some individuals seem naturally fast. They are likely to have a higher number of fast twitch muscle fibres, as well as favourable limb lengths. Other people have higher than normal levels of muscle mass. These individuals fair well in activities requiring strength. So whilst we are naturally generalists when it comes to fitness, there is enough genetic variety to allow for specialists in fitness.
People who specialise in one aspect of fitness take advantage of the body’s ability to adapt to training. Combined with a natural predisposition towards a specific physical activity, further training can accentuate your physical performance. This is how athletes develop high levels of specific fitness for their sports. Think Olympic weightlifters, sprinters, and Le Tour De France cyclists. Those who wish to excel in one domain can do so with proper specific training. However, the vast majority of us do not have the genetic capacity to specialise and become elite.
As a result, most people can be good in most areas of fitness. A general approach to fitness training consists of a lot of variety. Variety of activities, intensities and durations. It is this variety that produces well rounded fitness levels across most areas. For those that are not athletes, we advocate a general approach to fitness training. Information on where to try out different activities is located here
NK Fitness are leading personal trainers in Fulham and south west London. They offer a range of bespoke personal training solutions to athletes, business professionals and fitness enthusiasts. Contact us to find out more.