ISSA Chapter 8: Elements of Fitness 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Name and describe the goals and elements of a fitness program.
  • List the elements of fitness programs that need to be incorporated for optimal health and performance.
  • Know the components of each element of effective fitness programs.


People seek personal trainers to assist them in their fitness and health goals for many reasons.

Most commonly, we see the reasoning being weight loss or weight management. But, some people may have other reasons, like improving athletic performance, a better quality of life, and supporting psychological health.

The job of personal trainers is to use their knowledge of the many elements of fitness to drive these changes and adjust to clients’ individual goals.

In addition to client goals, personal trainers also need to prioritize client health and skills associated with daily movement and managing basic physical needs, like:

  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Dressing
  • Continence and toileting
  • Ambulating and transferring
  • Eating and preparing food
  • Tasks contributing to income

The five components of fitness that a trainer should focus on are:

  • Cardiovascular Endurance: This measures the cardiovascular system’s ability to perform over an extended period.
  • Muscular Strength: The measure of the force produced by a muscle or muscle group.
  • Muscular Endurance: The ability for muscles or muscle groups to continuously output force against resistance over time.
  • Flexibility: The range of motion of muscle and the associated tissues at a joint or joints.
  • Body Composition: The physical makeup of the body considering fat mass and lean mass.

Physiological Benefits of Cardiovascular Endurance

  • Increase in energy
  • More stamina
  • Help control blood pressure
  • Help to regulate blood sugar
  • Burn calories for maintaining body comp
  • Promoting brain health
  • improvement of the body’s cellular efficiency
  • Reductions in the risk of disease
  • Improvements in the state of mind

Physiological Benefits of Muscular Strength

  • Maintains body composition
  • Increases in energy
  • Better bone density
  • Enhances strength for activities of daily living
  • Reductions in disease risk
  • Improvements in mental well-being
  • Risk of injury lowers
  • Improvements in posture
  • Enhancements in longevity

Physiological Benefits of Muscular Endurance

  • More stamina
  • Reductions in fatigue
  • Metabolism rises
  • The risk of injury lowers
  • Mood improves
  • Sleep quality increases
  • Prevention of age-related decline in brain functioning
  • Promotion of the ability to last longer in exercise

Physiological Benefits of Flexibility

  • Reductions in the risk of injury
  • Balance improves
  • Better posture is promoted
  • Reductions in pain
  • Improvements in physical performance
  • Increased range of motion
  • Improvements in circulation

Physiological Benefits of Healthy Body Composition

  • Decreases in the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Decreases in risk for hypertension
  • Decreases in risk for heart disease
  • Promotion of a healthier metabolism
  • Fostering better ranges of motion
  • Provides energy for activities of daily living
  • Promotes better organ function
  • Hormone regulation
  • Control of weight
  • Enhancements in healthy lung function
  • Promotion of healthy pregnancy
  • Improvements in quality of sleep

Elements of a Fitness Program

Specific elements need to be considered and utilized differently in each and every training program.

The elements of a fitness program are:

  • The warm-up
  • Flexibility training
  • Core training
  • Balance training
  • Reactive training
  • Resistance training
  • Cardiorespiratory training
  • The cooldown

The Warm-Up

Warm-ups are needed for preparing the body for training.

A general warm-up is simple and used for increasing the flow of blood, respiration rate, body temperature, and neurological activation of major muscle groups.

General warm-ups are nonspecific, lower-intensity activities, including dynamic stretching and light cardio.

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A specific warm-up is used to prepare the body for a sport or a more specific exercise. The movements done will mimic the movements of the workout so those movement patterns are improved.

Some reasons to include warm-ups are to increase blood flow and reduce muscle stiffness, improve neuromuscular activation and deliver more oxygen to the bloodstream and body. All of this has the goal of prepping for workouts.

Flexibility Training

This is an important aspect of all programs as flexibility tends to diminish around age 25.

Static stretching is the lengthening of a muscle and holding of this lengthened position.

The length-tension relationship shows the amount of tension a muscle can produce as a function of sarcomere length.

Core Training

This refers to strengthening the muscles of the abdominals, back, and lower body that directly influences the lumbopelvic hip complex.

The lumbopelvic hip complex is the musculature of the hip that attaches to the pelvis and lumbar spine and works to stabilize the trunk and lower extremities.

The muscles of the core and LPHC are the hip adductors, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, erector spinae, rectus abdominus, gluteus Maximus, hamstring complex, quadriceps, hip flexors, transverse abdominus, internal obliques, external obliques, multifidus, and pelvic floor muscles.

Proper core training exercises work to stabilize the spine by targeting as many of the core muscles as you can at once.

Abdominal bracing is the activation of the trunk muscles to support the spine.

Balance Training

Balancing is done every day in life and during athletics. It requires a good amount of sensory input.

Visual input comes in from the ears, and input regarding proprioception comes from the muscles and tendons.

Strong muscles help to stabilize the joints and prevent falls.

The benefits of balance training include improvements in static and dynamic stability, reductions in the incidence of a recurrent ankle injury, reductions in lower back pain, and reductions in joint pain.

Balance is a key part of preparing the body to progress in a fitness or training program and should be done to support better movement, performance, and quality of life.

Reactive Training

Most sports have speed, agility, and quickness associated with them, and so it is often associated strictly with athletes.

In reality, this form of training can be beneficial for all types of clients and should be incorporated in some form.

Reactive training is defined as quick, powerful movements which have an eccentric action followed by immediate concentric action.

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This is going to be training the body to be agile, explosive, and fast.

Speed is the ability of the body to move in one direction as fast as possible.

Agility refers to our ability to change direction, accelerate, stabilize, and decelerate, all while maintaining a good posture. i

Quickness is the ability to react and change the position of the body with a max rate of force.

Some benefits of SAQ training are:

  • Improvements in sprints, jumping performance in countermovements, and continuous jumping.
  • Improved power in sports
  • Improved VO2 max, agility, visual vigilance, and cognitive performance.
  • Increases in time to exhaustion
  • Improvements in muscular strength for movements in different directions
  • Improved efficiency in the reception and processing of signals through the brain
  • Enhancement in all motor skills
  • Reductions in reaction time
  • Improvements in balance
  • Improvements in functional ability
  • Improvements in many of the fitness program components.


Plyometric training is reactive training that seeks max force in the shortest time possible.

Common exercises in plyometrics include hops, jumps, leaps, bounds, depth jumps, split lunges, box jumps, explosive push-ups, and medicine ball throws.

Plyometric exercises increase the power of contractions by using the stretch-shortening cycle.

The stretch-shortening cycle is made up of three phases.

  1. The eccentric contraction phase is where the energy is stored
  2. The amortization phase is the transitional period
  3. The concentric contraction phase is where the contraction occurs and the stored energy enhances the contraction

Plyometric actions are similar to stretching a spring and then watching it explode up.

Plyometric training needs to emphasize safety more so than most types of exercise. They require a solid base of strength before doing regularly.

Resistance Training

Resistance training involves exercises with the intent of increasing strength, endurance, muscle size, or power.

For the promotion of muscular adaptation, resistance training needs to challenging enough to tear down the muscle fiber. Therefore, many people experience muscle soreness and DOMS.

DOMS is short for delayed onset muscle soreness. This is muscle pain or stiffness that is a result of micro tearing of tissues during eccentric muscle action that is felt for several days after the new activity.

Cardiorespiratory Training

The cardiorespiratory system has many functions, like:

  • Delivering nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Removing carbon dioxide and metabolic waste
  • Regulating body temps
  • Maintaining the pH balance
  • Delivering hormones to their appropriate target cells.

Training of the cardiovascular system requires us to do continuous, rhythmic exercise involving large muscle groups.

The body’s exercise response is proportional to the oxygen demands of skeletal muscles.

Cardiorespiratory training uses target heart rate, rates of perceived exertion, and heart rate zones to determine the intensity and drive physiological adaptation.

Target heart rate is an estimate of beats per minute that needs to be reached to achieve a specific exercise intensity.

Rates of perceived exertion are subjective scales of a client’s perception of their exercise intensity.

Heart rate zones use a percentage of max heart rate and are associated with desired physical adaptations.

Max heart rate can be estimated or found with thorough and tough testing. To estimate, it is commonly done s 220 minus age.

Steady State Activity

This is a continuous activity done at a fixed level of exertion. Some common examples are walking, running, cycling, and swimming.

The body adapts to regular levels of steady-state exercise by increasing blood flow to the heart to keep up with its aerobic energy demands.

Blood volume increases as a response to regular steady-state activity, as well as the heart increases size and strength to contract with more blood and improve cardiac output.

Interval Training

This form of training involves low-to-high intensity workouts along with periods of rest or lower intensity activity.

This form of exercise is thought to give the same adaptations of steady-state, but with less overall volume and time commitment.

HIIT training is high-intensity interval training, and this involves short 10 – 45 second segments at near max VO2, followed by lower intensity activity or rest. Training at this level should be short, somewhere around the ten-minute mark.

Interval training has been found to give these benefits:

  • Increase in oxidative capacity of skeletal muscles
  • Strengthening of the left ventricle
  • Increase in stroke volume
  • Improvement in peripheral vascular structure and function

The Cooldown

Post-activity cooldowns have mental and physiological benefits and are quite important.

Taking some time to slow down and reduce resistance before terminating a session allows the body to return to a more normal body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.

This can be a good time to stretch and promote muscle recovery.

Self-myofascial release is a way to apply manual pressure to adhesion or overactive tissue to elicit autogenic inhibitory responses, which is characterized by decreases in excitability of a contracting or stretched muscle arising from the Golgi tendon organ.

Mentally, the cooldown allows people to focus their energy on a recap of what was just done, and prepare for the rest of the day.

ISSA Chapter 8: Elements of Fitness 6
ISSA Chapter 8: Elements of Fitness 7
ISSA Chapter 8: Elements of Fitness 8
Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

All Posts

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