Training Versus Exercise

Author - Erik "Rik" Jones
NWS Coach

The terms “training” and “Exercise” are often synonymous when talking about improving your physical attributes. While it may seem trivial to some, there actually is a difference. If the understanding of the two is not there, they can be mistaken for one another, and one may become disappointed when they do not reach the goals they set. Now that I may have you utterly confused, lets dive in.

Working out is a singular session. Picture yourself walking into the gym, bag in hand, all hyped up on pre-workout, and ready to rock and roll. You start warming up, doing the weird arm thing maybe hit the treadmill for a while, and then start to think; “what should I hit today?” You then go and hit a couple sets of bench press, maybe some pull-downs, and some bicep curls (and for the ladies: squats. Donkey kicks, and that awkward groin machine.) Now, you leave, pumped, sweating, and feeling good. For the rest of the week you repeat this cycle and continue your fitness journey. For some of you, this may very well be sufficient and elicit the results you are looking for. A good sweat, staying somewhat in shape, the metal stimulation of physical activity, and the freedom to do what you please each time you step foot in the gym.

Now, if your sessions sound like the one I just described, but you are not getting the results your looking for, what is the missing link? A plan. A thought out, evidence based, strategic plan. This is (in my opinion) is the number one reason why most people done reach their goals in terms of physical fitness. Things like specific weight loss/gain, strength gains, athletic development, or anything that requires a specific result must have a specific plan. The term training refers to this exact process. I believe that if you are in this game for a specific goal such as hitting a certain number on a lift, getting to a certain body fat percentage, or play a competitive sport, you need to have a training protocol to hit those benchmarks and continue to fulfill your potential. The more extreme your goals are the more meticulous your training plan must be. It takes dedication, commitment, and the fortitude to endure the rigors of grueling sessions, as well as the monotony that can come with a strict program.

All in all, this can be viewed as a spectrum. On the one end are the workout warriors who just want to go to the gym, get a sweat, feel good and get out. The other end is your high-level athletes that are training to keep a job, hit a world record, or step on stage. It all depends on what you’re looking to get out of your gym experience. Furthermore, I believe that majority of people sit right in the middle of this spectrum. Most of us have goals that they want to attain, but do not need a super specific plan down to the percentage. We want a general plan to follow but also like some freedom, all the while slowly working towards those standard that we set for ourselves. I have been on both ends of this spectrum in my life from just lifting weights cause I thought that’s what I was supposed to do, to following a collegiate football summer program, to training for a powerlifting meet. Throughout those experiences I have found the key to be one thing – progression. If there is one thing you take away from this is that there is a progression to everything, and to see results you must have at least a basic plan to your fitness endeavors. If you are making progress in in some way, shape or form, it will keep you engaged, motivated, and have something to track and look back on. The difference becomes how detailed, intensive, and strategic do you wish to be with that progression.

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