Developing the 10 Physical Skills for Total Fitness

Published: 17-02-2012  | Updated: 03-10-2013

"There's a saying among prospectors - go out looking for one thing, and that's all you'll ever find."

Robert Flaherty

Total fitness

Total fitness or General Physical Preparedness (GPP) is the pursuit of complete, well-rounded physical competency. This involves varied and diverse training, designed to develop abilities across the ten widely recognised general physical skills, listed below:

  1. Cardiovascular or respiratory endurance,
  2. stamina,
  3. strength,
  4. flexibility,
  5. power,
  6. speed,
  7. agility,
  8. balance,
  9. coordination, 
  10. accuracy.

Training for total fitness is an anti-specialisation goal; that is, you're not developing a narrow set of skills for a specific activity, or sport, such as training for speed and power to improve football performance. Instead you're looking to build capabilities across the entire range of recognised fitness skills and avoid an imbalance in physical ability.  

Why train for General Physical Preparedness?

The aim is to be physically prepared to take on anything life throws at you. You may not be as quick as a dedicated sprinter, or stronger than a professional weight lifter, but you would posses skills that make you more capable across an entire range of physical demands or circumstances, adapting to new situations or sports with greater ease.


GPP training and avoiding ability imbalances can make you less prone to injury and potential burn outs, as well as keeping training more varied and interesting.

There are many areas of life that are particularly well suited to GPP, particularly the unpredictable and less regimented areas e.g. survival and combat situations and many forms of sports.

Defining the fitness skills 

  • Cardiovascular / respiratory endurance - gathering, processing, and delivering oxygen.
  • Stamina - processing, delivering, storing, and utilising energy.
  • Strength - application of force by muscle(s).
  • Flexibility - maximising the range of motion at a given joint.
  • Power - application of maximum force in minimum time by muscles.
  • Speed - minimising the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  • Coordination - combination of several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  • Agility - minimising transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  • Balance - controlling the placement of the bodies centre of gravity in relation to its support base.
  • Accuracy - controlling movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Training for total fitness

The ten physical abilities are not elements to be trained separately and in isolation. They are skills that must be trained in unison and flow together flawlessly.

Strive for total fitness through;

  • consistent training,
  • incorporating a wide variety of high-intensity functional movements.
  • Approach your workouts and choice of exercises in an almost random nature. 

This form of training will see you develop broad fitness skills and improve your ability to maintain elevated levels of activity for longer periods, as well as more quickly returning to a normal state after exertion.

Build your workouts and activities across multiple forms of varied training, such as -

If you're looking for a defined training method, CrossFit is the most widely recognised GPP strength and conditioning program today. CrossFit is quickly becoming a global phenomenon and prescribes "constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement" (1).


  1. URL: Date: 09.Sept.2010


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.