When I was asked to pick a topic for this blog I was happy that no one had taken Exercise vs Training.
The definition of exercise is an “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness
Training is to “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.”
Exercise is an activity and Training is an activity with a clear goal/purpose.
Let’s start off with Exercise as an activity, like playing tennis for the day with friends. Maybe you don’t have a racquet, but you decide that you can go and hit a couple of balls at the batting cages. That may not be something that interests you so you decide to go on a leisure bike ride around the neighborhood. Either way you are doing some sort of activity that isn’t too strenuous on your body, but gets your blood moving. What follows is a pat on the back with your friends and a pint at your local pub enjoying the fruits of your labor from that day. Now, in your mind you may think that you have accomplished a great deal, and you have, but is that enough? Is it enough if you do this sort of activity each weekend? You realize that it might not be enough so you go and get a membership at your local gym so that you may “exercise” after work, school or once the kids are in bed. Whatever the reason, you have started making clear choices to continue your activity/exercise and move up a notch. In the process of realizing you want more you decide that you are going to run a 5k. This is when Training kicks in.
Now you’ve graduated to Training. Remember training is an activity with a clear goal or purpose. Since you felt that the gym wasn’t enough for you, you set a goal of a 5k. With no real experience in this activity you begin the research of how to train for a 5k. This is when you learn to set small goals. Week 1 you will walk/run/walk. Week 2 you will run/walk/run. Week 3 you will attempt to run 1.5 miles 3 days a week. Week 4 you move up to 2 miles 4x a week. And so on until you have reached your goal of 3 miles and you are ready for your 5k. While doing this, you start eating differently, fueling your body to keep it going the right way. Your focus at the gym is more clear. You research different exercise techniques to help with your running and how to improve it. By the end of this experience you may come up with another goal of running a half marathon. Now you need to adjust your training so that you can accomplish the goal set for a half marathon.
By getting into this mode you have set little goals that would help improve your skills in the area of activity that you want to focus on. You have recognized and adjusted the weakness in this activity. You researched some drills and skills to improve your focused activity. You learned about the fundamentals of what it is to prepare for a 5k, half marathon and Murph. You began recording your times, lifts and skills by using a fitbit or apple watch or anything that could keep an accurate record of your times. This fueled you to push harder and run faster. Now going on a bike ride with friends wasn’t your primary goal, training for that 5k, Murph or triathlon is your primary goal. When you finally achieved that goal, you decided to set another goal that would change how you looked at your training. This started the whole process of understanding and setting your goals, looking for your weakness and strengthening it, checking your stats to see where you needed improvement and finally achieving your final goal.
So all in all you realize that exercising is very different from training. One way to stay constantly motivated and stop the plateau of exercising is to set these little goals. For some it may be that 5k run. For others it may be that first strict pull up or that first rope climb. For some it’s squatting your bodyweight for 5 clean reps, or 10 straight double unders. For others it may be completing next years open, or smashing an RX Murph. You’re fine just exercising, but if you want to be better tomorrow than you are today, you need to be setting these goals, however small they may seem to you now. And to be reaching these goals, you need to be doing the unsexy supplemental work, the basics, the techniques and the progressions.
You need to be training, plain and simple.