Name an animal which can not only survive but also thrive in the hot deserts of the Sahara, the Amazon rainforest, the extremely cold climate of the Arctic, around the various rivers, around the oceans, and also the Savannahs? Don’t go too far ahead, it’s us – Humans! We are blessed with this quality of adapting to any habitat we come across.
Our bodies, over generations, have adapted specifically to the demands imposed by habitat. This is called the SAID (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) principle. Fitness has different components which can be narrowed down to Endurance (stamina), Strength, Flexibility and Body Composition:
Endurance is the ability of our muscles (both skeletal and cardiac) to contract at submaximal levels for a prolonged period of time as in jogging. In jogging, we don’t really contract our muscle maximally or else we’ll end up sprinting but this submaximal contraction allows us to last longer.
Strength is the ability of our muscles to generate force against an external resistance. The goal here is not to last long but to use our muscles to their maximal potential in every contraction. This happens when we lift weights.
Flexibility is our ability to achieve full range of motion around various joints. This is achieved by stretching.
Body Composition is about having ideal levels body fat percentage which is purely controlled by good diet, and having a higher lean body mass which comes with a combination of correct nutrition and training.
All these components are inter-related but we have to train them individually to take them to their optimal potential. Often, we hear that one form of exercise is all-encompassing or a particular exercise will give complete fitness. For eg., ‘Walking is the best exercise’ or ‘Dance is the best exercise’ or ‘Yoga is the best!’ Nothing could be further from the truth.
Walking or jogging is a form of exercise that trains you only for endurance, it does very little to build your strength which is very important even for you to able to withstand the jarring impact of the tar road on your joints while running. Even elite Marathon runners acknowledge this fact as they, too, spend the much-needed time in the weight room to increase the strength of their bones and muscles to support their running and increase their longevity in their sport. If you think that weight training alone will give you complete fitness, then that is also not true, as it increases strength but has very little to do with endurance. Even strength athletes must train for endurance separately as cardio-respiratory (heart and lungs) fatigue will not allow them to showcase their strength feats. Training of all kinds is needed for all – immaterial of age. Just as athletes train for each component because their sports demand it, we should also train each component individually.
Life is the biggest sport that you can play. It throws multiple challenges which asks us to use all the components of fitness – sometimes strength – when we have to shift heavy furniture in our house, or lift heavy stuff off the floor; or sometimes endurance – when we have to climb a few flights of stairs or maybe run to be on time at a certain place, maybe run to catch a train.
Allow yourself complete fitness by letting your body adapt to the specific demands of endurance, strength and flexibility training. None is better than the other, they all have something different to offer to you.
Vivek Singh Rajput
K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences
Fitness Icon Kaizzad Capadia