The five fitness elements By Mohamad Izham Mohlis Fitness trainer Mohamad Izham Mohlis offers tips on how to exercise for an efficient heart and strong muscles THOSE new to fitness programmes usually ask: ¡°What exercises are for which muscle group?¡± or ¡°Do you need to train every muscle group?¡± It is important to know the elements of fitness so you see it from a holistic perspective. The elements must cover cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, core and stability. CORE ELEMENT Our core covers our middle body part, in between our upper and lower body. The major muscle involved in this core training is rectus abdominis and erector spine. Some people have poor body posture, arching to the front or back. In the long-run, this may cause lower back problems. It is important to strengthen our core with exercises such as sit-ups and plank. MUSCLE STRENGTH We need to train our muscles because every movement we make involves our muscular system. Muscles are unique in their ability to relax, contract and produce force. With appropriate exercise, muscles can become larger and stronger. A benefit of strength training is the increase in muscle fibre size and strength - contractive and bone. Weak muscles lead to injuries and lower back problems. Strength training involves seven major muscles - chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings. FLEXIBLE JOINTS This refers to a joint¡¯s ability to move in every direction or move specifically, through a full and normal range of motion. Appropriate flexibility training can help balance muscle groups that may be overused during physical training and correct poor-posture. There are two types of flexibility training - passive and active stretching. Basic stretching covers the shoulders, triceps, lower back, hips and torso. HEART OF THE MATTER Cardiovascular or cardio-respiratory fitness best describes the health and function of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. This includes the working capacity of the lungs and the ability of the circulatory system to transport blood and nutrients to metabolically- active tissues. Examples of cardiovascular exercises are aerobics, hiking, jogging, cycling, skipping, swimming and sports such as tennis, badminton and futsal. STABILITY This involves muscles staying contracted without movement. Examples of muscles that can be trained here are shoulders, calves, soleus, gastrocnemius and abdominal. This training helps to support strength and reduce injuries while exercising. Simple exercises include standing on one leg, sitting on a fit ball, standing with a medicine ball and variations of floor exercises.
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