Exercise vs. Training

Exercise versus training. Same thing , right?

The answer is complicated, but I tend to say no... not really.

Everyone goes to the gym for some reason. It may be therapeutic, it may be because your doctor said you'll die if you don't, it may be to offset the dozen donuts you ate the previous day (I'm guilty), or it may be because you are working on some athletic feat.

I have seen some people bashing gym-goers who exercise with no "goal". By stepping in the gym, you are there to achieve some goal. My goal might be to get a 500lb. squat, while someone else's might be to run a 4:45 mile, or curl the 50lb. dumbbells (bro), and someone else' might be to just blow off some steam (trust me, I've been there). Each and every person in the gym is working for something. Just because what they are working on isn't as hardcore/intense as what you are working on doesn't mean they aren't there for a worthwhile reason,

That being said,

Exercise versus training....

I consider exercise to be a tool in training. Exercise is defined as: "activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness". Pretty much everyone in the gym is exercising. However, that does not mean that everyone in the gym is training. Training is defined as: "undertake a course of exercise and diet in order to reach or maintain a high level of physical fitness, typically in preparation for participating in a specific sport or event". The difference is the in the precision. People who are exercising have the general goal to increase muscle, or lose some fat, or increase their health. People who are training have a specific, precise goal or reason to train, a plan to get there physically, and a plan to get there mentally. Here is a few examples.

Joe goes to the gym 3 days a week, usually on his lunch break and does 1/2 hour on the stair stepper, a few core exercises and occasionally will do a few bicep curls or bench presses. His doctor said he should "really try to exercise more and eat takeout less". If he misses a day, he doesn't sweat it; work is more important anyways. His diet consists of whatever he remembers to grab before rushing to work, or takeout if he totally forgets that day. On his "gym" days, he rewards himself with a beer or two and a relaxing night on the couch. He wakes up after snoozing his alarm 5 times and rushes to work.

John goes to the gym 4 days a week, typically after work, later in the evening. He walks in ready to go; pre-workout, workout log and gym bag in hand. He warms up his body while he prepares his mind. He pulls out his workout log and collects the necessary equipment for his workout and gets started. John works out for close to 2 hours, but he stays moving the whole time. When he is done, he stretches, logs his workout, and goes home. He prepares his meal according to his meal plan, takes a hot shower, and goes to bed. The next day, he wakes up 10 minutes early to pack his lunch, prepare a proper breakfast, stretch/foam roll and most days meditate. John rewards himself by remembering the goals he is working towards.

So, who is exercising and who is training?

I know, I made it obvious. Technically, they are both exercising.

But only John is training. John has specific goals, a precise plan and the mental fortitude to execute.

So, time to be critical. Are you training? Or are you just exercising?

Your goals don't have to be crazy-hardcore-world-record-breaking goals, but you should have a precise purpose when you step foot in the gym. You owe it to yourself to not waste that time and to be constantly progressing. (Side note: You can still progress and work towards goals on a busy schedule. That is a lazy excuse, and you are only slighting yourself. I hear that all the time.)

Need help setting goals? Planning that precise program? Give me a call and lets get something going.

Remember, the most important thing you can invest in is yourself.


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