The Fitness Pyramid

Fitness Pyramid

There are no shortage of fitness blogs that purport to have the “secret formula” or “superfood” to finally help you achieve the body composition you want. There are, however, very few people in the fitness industry that will shoot you straight with information on what it actually takes to achieve your fitness and body composition goals.

Here is a pyramid of the hierarchy of fitness. This is adapted from Greg Glassman’s original article “What is Fitness” from 2002. I don’t like to leave behavior change to chance, so I’ve added a new base of the pyramid: Consistency. Let’s explore each one.



Whether competing in football or CrossFit, sport is the competitive application of fitness. With some risks and, potential, detriments to fitness. Injury is more prevalent toward the top of the pyramid – especially when the other aspects are neglected. Sport doesn’t require that you compete, however. Training as though you compete (“I want to get better, therefore I must do more”) when you’ve failed to master previous parts of the pyramid will result in poor body composition, high propensity to injury, and overall decreased fitness.


We’re talking Olympic-stlyle weightlifting here. The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Weightlifting is a wildly efficient way to improve fast-twitch muscle fibers, increase coordination, improve body composition, and increase strength. When pursued at the ignorance of the previous disciplines, the benefits of weightlifting for general physical fitness will not be realized.


The term “gymnastics” here is used to refer to moving one’s body through space; body awareness that originates in the “core” or trunk, and it expressed in the outer extremities. Picture a push-up where the athlete’s body is rigid as a board (core strength), lowers to touch the chest and thighs simultaneously, and finishes with the hips and chest rising simultaneously. This requires a great deal of spacial awareness and core stability.

Metabolic Conditioning

Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon) can refer to both aerobic capacity (think: 5k run) as well as anaerobic pursuits (think: 200m sprint). The former is beneficial for the cardiorespiratory system while the latter is incredibly effective at promoting fat loss. MetCon is prioritized over the other pursuits for many reasons, two of which are most important for generalized fitness. First, MetCon has the greatest benefit for the greatest number of biomarkers of health – body fat reduction, cardiorespiratory benefits, and increased metabolism. Secondly, MetCon will assist the athlete in achieving a more ideal body composition – a necessary precursor to Gymnastics.


You’ve probably heard the expression “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” Seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how common it is for people to use exercise to “buy” calories and wonder why the results won’t come. There’s a reason Nutrition is so close to the base of the pyramid – it literally influenced each part of your fitness. If you’ve been trying to out-exercise your nutrition or you see your results stalling, you’re not alone. We’d love to have a chat and get you headed on the right track:


There’s a reason this is the base. Every year millions of Americans make New Year’s Resolution and hit it hard for 4 weeks. Then what? How many of you have done a diet challenge only to gain all the weight – plus some – back? Do you get really fired up to come to the gym then bail at the first sight of a minor scheduling conflict? Consistency is where it all comes together. And, I’m not talking 8 weeks. I’m talking years of consistency.