What is “Fit”?

It’s a term that is used a lot in gyms and the media but what does it really mean to be fit?

Many would say that ability to complete a marathon makes a person fit. Yes and No.

Most would look at a super heavy weight powerlifter and fit is not a word that springs to mind. Hold judgement on that one there folks.

The Oxford dictionary defines fitness as;


“The quality of being suitable to fulfil a particular role or task”


Fit - for Sumo Wrestling

Fit – for Sumo Wrestling

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Fit - for endurance running

Fit – for endurance running


Powerlfiting is a goal/task as is marathon running, basketball, hiking, gardening, sex, cooking, playing with your kids are all tasks too and if you can perform the task you are attempting then you ARE fit…for that task.

The human body adapts in a very energy saving manner which allows specificity of fitness. For example a long distance runner adapts specifically to that task and the body wont waste energy creating dense bones or stronger muscles if it isn’t required to. They become fit for long distance running but not strength needs and not even endurance on a bike, just endurance on foot; we adapt that specifically.

The opposite end of the spectrum see’s powerlfiters building thicker bones, denser muscles but at the sacrifice of muscular endurance due to specific adaptations of the energy pathways needed. They become fit for strength work and not endurance work.

Confusing fitness with an ability to perform large amounts of cardiovascular work over a prolonged period of time is a common mistake but still a mistake.

We are fit for what we do and very little else, which in essence, makes us all fit to varying proficiencies and spectrum.

“Take an elite level cyclists with powerful legs and a huge VO2 max and drop them in the sea and demand an equal level of “fitness” in swimming as they display on their bikes…in most cases you wont see anything other than an average performance due to the specificity of fitness.”

So next time you think about “getting fit” try and decide on what you want to be fit at, it will define your training and thus, results.


Richard Ham Williams

Epsom Personal Trainer

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