There’s more to fitness than just “strength” and “cardio.”  In fact, did you know there are at least 10 domains of fitness? These domains were officially defined around a decade ago, but continue to open many eyes about the importance of focusing on as many domains as possible as part of your training routine.

10 Domains of Fitness

While this list highlights the complexity of fitness – it’s more than just being able to run fast or lift a lot – I believe it could be simpler. Simpler is usually better. In this article, I will challenge these traditional 10 domains and take a more parsimonious approach to fitness while still acknowledging its complexity.  Still confused? Before we get started let’s break down each domain into their exact definitions and what NEW domain would take its place.

  1. Cardio Endurance: the ability of body systems to gather, process and deliver oxygen.

  2. Stamina: the ability of body systems to process, delivers, store, and utilize energy.

  3. Strength: the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.

  4. Flexibility: the ability to maximize the range of motion at a give joint.

  5. Power: the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.

  6. Speed: the ability to move your body or object in a linear path along a certain distance at maximum velocity.

  7. Agility: the ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another

  8. Balance: the ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.

  9. Coordination: the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a single distinct movement.

  10. Accuracy: the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Now, let’s re-CATEGORIZE them into 3 NEW domains and keep 1 from the original list.

  1. Energy Efficiency. What does it replace? Cardio Endurance and Stamina.

  2. Strength What does it replace? Power and Speed. Yes, we’re keeping Strength.

  3. Mobility/Stability What does it replace? Flexibility. Yes, it’s technically 2 words but Mobility and Stability go together like peanut butter and jelly.

  4. Body Awareness. What does it replace? Agility, Balance, Coordination, and Accuracy.

Energy Efficiency simply means your body should be able to handle whatever you’re doing to it. It could be running a marathon, sprinting 100 meters, or performing a 3RM deadlift.  No matter the cardiac output or the workload capacity your body better be able to handle the demands placed upon it. 

Navy SealsNavy Seals are some of the most ‘energy efficient’ human beings on the planet

Strength is staying for 1 simple reason: without strength nearly all other domains are not possible. This statement could not be truer when it comes to speed and power. Why? You can’t be fast if you’re not powerful. You can’t be powerful unless you’re strong. Ipso facto, the stronger you are the more power you have. The more power you have the faster you move (i.e. speed).

Arthur SaxonArthur Saxon, early 20th century strongman, routinely put 300+lbs overhead with 1 arm. This was long before supplements or scientifically researched training programs

Mobility & Stability will replace flexibility simply because the general public associates flexibility strongly with muscle elasticity, not tendons, ligaments, or body control. Besides, flexibility is a very dated term. Mobility and stability cover all aspects of our body’s ability to manipulate itself into various movement patterns. Still confused? Reach down and touch your toes. If you can then you’re flexible. Now, lie on your back and raise 1 leg up with knee locked keeping your leg straight  (your other leg should be straight and on the floor, not turning outward). If you can get your ankle inline you’re your hip then you’re demonstrating mobility and stability. If not, then you could still be flexible but NOT able to demonstrate mobility or stability in your movement patterns

Shaolin Monk A Shaolin monk demonstration incredible mobility and stability

Agility + Coordination + Balance + Accuracy = Body Awareness. None of those previously mentioned are possible if you don’t know where your body is in space (not to be confused with outer space).  You can be deaf, mute, and blind but still have incredible body awareness. I’ve seen individuals who are powerful, strong, fast, etc. but were horrible athletes because they didn’t have good body awareness. 

Sport Science‘Sport Science’ episode of basketball players’ shooting accuracy while blindfolded and using prosthetics.

Summary:

In summary, there should be 4 “domains of fitness” (energy efficiency, strength, mobility/stability, and body awareness) instead of ten. Simplicity works and helps us narrow down our primary goal(s) and the training needed to reach them.  My suggestion is to start with a program that enhances mobility/stability. This will make the other domains easier to attain.

Stay Fit!

– Joshua Jarmin

About Josh Jarmin

Originally from Washington, D.C. (NOVA) Josh moved to Atlanta to be a Middle School history teacher after graduating from James Madison University. He joined the Marine Corps infantry as a reservist and served in Iraq honorably. Josh then turned his attention to personal training after his tour in order to help others reach their health/fitness goals. At one point he was 275lbs and 28% body fat. Now he's 195lbs and 13.5% body fat. Josh worked for several fitness facilities in Atlanta and developed a loyal following of trainees. He's created a training program of his own personal design and has established himself as one of the top kettlebell and body movement experts in the Atlanta area. Josh is currently the Co-Owner and Director of Fitness at Blueprint Fitness.

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