6 Principles of Physical Fitness Image by jcortell

By Ritchie Gibson

Throughout the physical training industry there are many myths, misconceptions, theories and principles on different styles of fitness training. This particular article will concentrate more so on the 6 major principles that govern physical fitness. 

First of all lets define physical fitness and physical activity. This is where individuals can carry out the demands and rigors of daily life effectively without being over fatigued, but still able to have enough energy stores leftover for sporting and recreational activities.

Physical fitness falls into two separate categories being structured and unstructured. Structured meaning that you concentrate on a planned program of physical activity usually to raise your fitness levels.

Unstructured is a range of everyday activities that are done subconsciously and most of the time you are unaware that it is actually related to physical training.Things such as walking, climbing stairs, gardening, even when standing up to change the channels on your T.V. you are effectively performing a squat and using the power of your legs to stand and sit. 


The name says it all.  In order to improve fitness whether it be cardiovascular or muscular the body needs to be stressed above what it normally encounters in order to gain improvement.  This increase must be both systematic (to a planned program) and progressive to ensure performance gains without injuries.  A majority of people when training tend to stay within their comfort zone, therefore the gains that they are making are minimal. 

In order for your body to progress to greater levels of fitness you must shock the system and place a higher demand on it more so than what it is used to. This can be done by increasing the intensity, for example increasing the weight being lifted, the speed of which the exercise is being carried out, increasing your heart rate, the time spent on the exercise, increasing the distance and finally increasing the frequency at which you do it. 


Recovery is just as important as the hard work that you put into your training regime. There are several methods that may help enhance your recovery phase, these being massage, hydro- therapy, yoga, and reflexology all of which can help your body make the necessary repairs prior to moving onto the next training session.  Just remember no recovery, no improvement.


The principle of progression in exercise emphasises that a person should start slowly and increase exercise gradually. This will help avoid muscle soreness and minimise injuries. Progression in a training/fitness program should contain gradual increases in the number of repetitions, and the amount of time doing the exercise. The significance of progression is for exercise to be done gradually and to reduce the risk of overuse injuries, frustration and even burnout. When structuring an exercise program ensure the following acronym is used to ensure progression.

F - Frequency

I - Intensity

T - Time

T - Type of exercise


No two people are alike. Whether it be gender difference, race difference, or genetical difference when it comes to Physical Training we all have different requirements that need to be considered. Endomorphs (larger people) may not recover as quickly or have the same aerobic capacity as a ectomorph (Thinner smaller build) and these individual differences need to be taken into account when evaluating a training program.


Specificity is a principle in which specific kinds of exercise need to be used to develop specific parts of the body and specific elements of fitness. If you are an athlete and you play a sport then you will realise that you need to allocate training sessions to train for the specific sport that you play.

For example it would be inaffective for a golf player to revolve his training around sprints. Where he could be using that valuable training time to concentrate on light resistance training (weights) and technique training.  Ensure your training sessions are of benefit to your particular sporting needs.


You know the saying, "Variety is the spice of life" well it also applies in fitness training.  Some may say that this contradicts the fifth principle, specificity however it doesn't. By adding variety to your training regime you ensure that you don't plateau or stagnate due to a lack of interest.  Even by changing running routes, venues where you train and a change in the exercise or activities that you perform on a regular basis will ensure that monotony doesn't set in.
In conclusion, these are only six of the basic principles of physical fitness, and many others can be found in other texts all of which will result in improving your fitness and lifestyle in general.

It is not the mountain we must conquer, but ourselves”