Introduction - Master Fitness Trainers

A Master Fitness Trainer (MFT) is a soldier who has completed either the four-week active-component, two-week reserve-component, or US Military Academy’s MFT course work. Although called “masters,” MFTs are simply soldiers who know about all aspects of physical fitness training and how soldiers’ bodies function. Most importantly, since MFTs are taught to design individual and unit programs, they should be used by commanders as special staff assistants for this purpose.
MFTs can do the following:
• Assess the physical fitness levels of individuals and units.
• Analyze the unit's mission-related tasks and develop sound fitness training programs to support those tasks.
• Train other trainers to conduct sound, safe physical training.
• Understand the structure and function of the human body, especially as it relates to exercise.

Components of Fitness
Physical fitness is the ability to function effectively in physical work, training, and other activities and still have enough energy left over to handle any emergencies which may arise.
The components of physical fitness are as follows:
• Cardiorespiratory (CR) endurance- the efficiency with which the body delivers oxygen and nutrients needed for muscular activity and transports waste products from the cells.
• Muscular strength - the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort.
• Muscular endurance - the ability of a muscle or muscle group to perform repeated movements with a sub-maximal force for extended periods of times.
• Flexibility-the ability to move the joints (for example, elbow, knee) or any group of joints through an entire, normal range of motion.
• Body composition-the amount of body fat a soldier has in comparison to his total body mass.
Improving the first three components of fitness listed above will have a positive impact on body composition and will result in less fat. Excessive body fat detracts from the other fitness components, reduces performance, detracts from appearance, and negatively affects one’s health.
Factors such as speed, agility, muscle power, eye-hand coordination, and eye-foot coordination are classified as components of “motor” fitness. These factors affect a soldier’s survivability on the battlefield. Appropriate training can improve these factors within the limits of each soldier’s potential. The Army’s fitness program seeks to improve or maintain all the components of physical and motor fitness through sound, progressive, mission-specific physical training for individuals and units.

Principles of Exercise
Adherence to certain basic exercise principles is important for developing an effective program. The principles of exercise apply to everyone at all levels of physical training, from the Olympic-caliber athlete to the weekend jogger. They also apply to fitness training for military personnel.
These basic principles of exercise must be followed:
• Regularity. To achieve a training effect, a person must exercise of ten. One should strive to exercise each of the first four fitness components at least three times a week. Infrequent exercise can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a good diet.
• Progression. The intensity (how hard) and/or duration (how long) of exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness.
• Balance. To be effective, a program should include activities that address all the fitness components, since overemphasizing any one of them may hurt the others.
• Variety. Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress.
• Specificity. Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, soldiers become better runners if their training emphasizes running. Although swimming is great exercise, it does not improve a 2-mile-run time as much as a running program does.
• Recovery. A hard day of training for a given component of fitness should be followed by an easier training day or rest day for that component and/or muscle group(s) to help permit recovery. Another way to allow recovery is to alternate the muscle groups exercised every other day, especially when training for strength and/or muscle endurance.
• Overload. The work load of each exercise session must exceed the normal demands placed on the body in order to bring about a training effect.

FITT Factors
Certain factors must be part of any fitness training program for it to be successful. These factors are Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. The acronym FITT makes it easier to remember them.