“Fitness” – Pet Peeve and Culture

Time and time again on various MTB media articles across all mediums I read lines like “so and so has the “fitness” and “strength” or “fitness and power”  to win etc… Each time I read such a line I cry a little inside! The line that inspired this short post was the following;

“Rider1 had all of the power and fitness for the stage one win and the overall”.

Well what’s wrong with that I hear you ask…? It’s pretty straight forward really, the misappropriation of the word fitness. It’s become a strange old catch-all for qualities of endurance specific to each discipline and frankly as a physical preparation/coaching professional it gets my goat!

Fitness, simply, is suitability for a task, in the case of Enduro, for example, that encompasses many things, i.e. many components of fitness! Power being one of them, along with strength, aerobic capacity, anaerobic power and capacity, mobility, flexibility, stability…’s a long and frankly comprehensive list.

“Fitness” has many components but is not a specific single quality and as such should never be spoken about as one single un-tangible thing! Now you probably think I’m being unnecessarily pedantic but I’m anything but, my job is to increase riders “fitness” and do so I need to know what exact physical qualities/components are required to excel in their sport and discipline and in what ratios!

You see if for example Rider1 in the quote above had very poor power then he would no longer have the “fitness” to win Stage One! Simple. Power is a crucial component of fitness for a mountain biker…in all disciplines. What the author has done here is confused the word “Fitness” with “Endurance” .

Endurance has many definitions but really it’s most simply defined as “the ability to resist fatigue”. Not quite the same as fitness now is it!? How do we achieve “endurance” for out sport I hear you ask? We work on the components of fitness most relevant to our discipline, building them in such a way that we can not only meet or exceed the physical demands of that discipline but also resist the fatigue that meeting those demands creates!

Maybe the above went over your head or seemed totally pointless but for me it’s a question of culture and the environment that that culture creates!

Do the small things perfectly and the big things will look after themselves. Educating riders I work with is a key part of the coaching process and even small things like using the correct terminology consistently, leads to a productive environment where we all on the same page and focused on the same goal!

Rant over.

Oh and for those interested the varied and debatable” Components of Fitness are;

Aerobic Endurance
Short-term muscular endurance
Flexibility and Mobility

Balance, Agility & Co-Ordination