Exercise is physical activity for the sake of physical activity.
It is exercise performed for TODAY, and for today only.
Exercise is often done for the sake of raising the heart rate and getting a bit of a sweat on.
People who ‘exercise’ typically perform the same sort of routine over and over because it does meet their immediate needs - to perform physical activity today.
And honestly, there is nothing wrong with this.
It is great way to meet the recommended weekly requirements for physical activity, ultimately providing us with the minimum required stimulus to stay healthy and manage weight gain.
This is fine. It keeps our cardiovascular system working efficiently, and significantly reduces our risk of developing a number of diseases and disorders.
But what if you have a specific goal you want to achieve?
I don’t care whether it is strength related, performance related, or body composition related.
Merely ‘exercising’ will not cut it.
Training is different.
If you have a specific goal in mind, then training is essential to effectively achieve that goal.
If you want to run a marathon, become a better athlete, or compete in a physique contest, performing a group exercise class 4 days per week is not going to cut it.
You need to follow a clear track that will lead YOU to YOUR specific destination.
Training involves reaching small, specific goals that lead directly to the achievement of your overall goal.
Each individual exercise you undertake is a small, specific step leading to the end of your journey.
Each set and every individual repetition is well thought out, and implemented with this final goal in mind.
You do these things not because you can do them, but because to reach your goal, you need to do them.
With that in mind, training is performed efficiently.
If you don’t have a valid reason for doing a specific exercise (AKA it doesn’t help you reach your overall goal), then you shouldn’t be doing it.
If you’re a sprinter, you don’t need to be jogging 10km on your rest days.
If you’re a powerlifter you don’t need to be doing 4 sets of Bicep curls at the end your session.
If you’re a marathon runner you don’t need to be bench pressing double body weight.
This doesn’t mean you throw out entire rep ranges, or stop doing certain exercises forever, it just means you need to focus on what is specific to your current goal and make that your priority.
Training has a focus on your individual needs.
This may mean addressing weak points, or correcting individual imbalances or dysfunctions.
It means addressing the areas where you are deficient, while also improving those which you are already good at.
Using a running as a specific example, your goal might be to run a marathon. You have good aerobic capacity, but are weak and have poor movement quality.
Increasing strength becomes a priority, as does improving your efficiency and quality of movement.
This occurs through specific exercise and training recommendations. Not through doing ‘whatever you have always done’ in the weight room.
Training results in measurable improvement.
This means that you actually PROGRESS through training. Whether it is getting stronger, getting faster, or getting leaner, when you are training (and training EFFECTIVELY) you will see improvements in yourself.
Now, exercising is fine. Some people enjoy working hard and getting a sweat on for the sake of it. And again, there is nothing wrong with that.
If you have a specific goal you want to reach, and find yourself doing the same thing over and over, you are exercising when you should be training.
And it is now time to make that change.