Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Difference between Fitness and Strength

There is a very big difference between fitness and strength and therefore a very big difference between training for those. It is, however, possible to train in such a way that you achieve both objectives. For example, sports training from football (American) to boxing the combination of achieving both strength as well as fitness from your training can be a big advantage in making you more successful at your sport.
The two are mutually exclusive from each other, though, as fitness has a very specific objective in that it allows your cardiovascular system to cope with more stress to your body from an endurance point of view and not strength. In Sports medicine there is a specific measurement called the VO2 Max which measures the maximum amount of oxygen that your lungs can use when you are training and it is a good indication of your fitness level for any aerobic activity. Aerobic activity too could be anything from walking to skipping or rowing a boat and therefore is usually sports specific. Research has shown that although there is an overlap between these specific aerobic activities there is very little overlap with sports activities.
What that means is that if you are a very fit cyclist who can cycle 100 miles without getting your heart-rate up more that fifty percent of its maximum, that does not mean that you will be able to run a 100 miles with the same result and you would have to train very specifically in order to achieve that kind of fitness. Which is what makes triathlons such a challenging sport as being strong and fit in one discipline does not make it any easier to be strong and fit in the next. It will need as much dedication and practice to achieve that kind of fitness in the one discipline as it took for you to achieve in the next.
However, the same is not true for strength training as there is more “carry-over” from strength training as there is from specific aerobic training. What that means is that if you train at the gym to be strong you will generally increase your explosive strength as the larger a muscle is the more quickly it can contract, which means that your ability to explode or quickly respond is going to be directly proportional to the amount of muscle you are carrying on your body. Obviously this kind of equation does not take into account any body-fat that you may or may not have and is worked out very simply from the amount of neuromuscular pathways that you have created to a specific muscle-group by training.
However there are some exercises that will increase your strength without working a specific muscle group, but rather will be working many muscle-groups at the same time. For example Squats and Dead-lift which will be working mainly the back and legs will have an overall affect on your body as it will no doubt have an enormous affect on the strength of your abdominal cavity and therefore your explosive strength.
The following is a brief list of the kind of exercises that will improve your overall aerobic capacity as well as a list of exercises that will increase your strength or your explosive ability or your ability to respond with speed. Obviously the amount of sets and repeats that you select when doing these exercises will depend completely on what your objective is when training, which is without a doubt the most important point when starting any exercise program.
• aerobic capacity
• strength training
• skipping
• dead-lift
• running
• bench-press
• cycling
• military press