Your idea of a fit body and an athletic body are probably similar: buff with low body fat. However, fit and athletic bodies don’t always come together in that sense. Athletes have different body types based on the sport they play, and may not match your view of a fit body.
Fit Body Type
A fit person meets the five goals of fitness. Generally speaking, they have good body composition, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and muscular strength.
The American Council on Exercise states that healthy levels of body fat for a fit person is 21 to 24 percent for women and 14 to 17 percent for men. Flexibility allows an individual to perform all necessary actions, and be prepared for the surprises that life throws at you, such as slipping on ice. Cardiovascular endurance is the ability use and transport oxygen during physical activity. Muscular endurance is the muscle’s ability to perform during a desired skill without suffering from excessive fatigue. Muscular strength is a muscle or muscle group’s ability to exert a maximal force.
Athletic Body Type
Athletes are people whose bodies are trained for specific sport. Their body types can vary based on the sport they play. For example, marathon runners tend to have very low body fat content and low muscle strength. A football lineman will have a higher amount of fat to survive a football game, but they will have higher amounts of muscle mass as too. Heavier athletes such as football players and shot-putters might be considered overweight by health professionals, but their muscle mass is nothing to discount. You wouldn't want to take a hit from either of them.
Although athletic bodies can vary, they tend to excel in at least one or more of the five goals of fitness. A gymnast must excel in all five areas to succeed. A football lineman may have lower flexibility, but they excel when it comes to muscular strength.
Which is Best?
Deciding which body type is best for you should be based on your goals. If your goal is to excel at a specific sport, then your goal should be to train your body for that sport. For example, if your goal is to be a gymnast, you will have to focus on all five goals of fitness. If your goal is to be a soccer player, you should focus on all five fitness goals, but concentrate on leg strength and cardiovascular endurance.
If your goal is to have a fit body, then focusing equally on the five goals of fitness would be best for you. This means a mix of cardio, resistance and a bit of flexibility training as well.
Getting fit should be a priority for every individual. However, be sure to consult a physician before making drastic changes to your fitness regimen. A certified fitness trainer can help determine your starting point for the five areas of fitness and create an appropriate exercise plan.
Kia Edwards is a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist who lives in New York City. She holds a B.A. in French and economics from Colgate University. Edwards spent 15 years as a high-level competitive gymnast and six years as a gymnastics coach.