Are you training or exercising?

This is an important distinction to make as it affects your approach to training, programming and recovery. (Physical) training is the dedicated pursuit of specific physical qualities, endurance for running, explosive strength or absolute strength. Training is NOT necessarily what happens at a gym or even at a ball club. Most people play recreational sports – that’s “exercise” or “leisure”.

Exercising is what you do if you take classes at a gym.

Exercising is what you do if you go to the gym and do “whatever you feel like”

Exercising is doing something for today. Not because of a long-term plan, but because the increased heart rate, the calorific expenditure and perhaps the pump makes you feel good or helps you lose some weight.

Exercising is GREAT! Exercising is AWESOME. Exercising beats sitting on the couch hands down. For 99/100 – exercise is just perfect.


An important point to note is that exercise will produce specific adaptations in the body. Going for random runs, playing squash and taking a yoga class will get you stronger. To a certain point. This is called the novice effect (please don’t take offense to the word “novice” – it just means “not specifically adapted to something”).

Exercising will produce results that are remarkable to the average person!

Training on the other hand is something completely different. Training has a purpose and a mission. Training is what you do when you want to run a marathon, hit a specific yoga pose, get really strong or in other ways create specific adaptations in the body.

Training may or may not include easy training days where you barely break a sweat as well as super intense sessions of death and mayhem. Training is always for a purpose. Training to accomplish something (completely specific like “running a marathon in 2hr30” or less specific like “getting stronger”) or more correctly (as I’ve probably repeated a billion times already) specifically trying to improve a physical adaptation in the body.

A training session is dedicated to the pursuit of specific adaptations and everything in that session should be there for that reason. Just like having a why in your private life will help you make decisions, having a training why will help you program and execute. The more specific and acute your why becomes (eg. “lift x amount of weight at the meet in x weeks”) , the higher sense of urgency required.

When training you shouldn’t do things to “have something good to take home after a failed lift”, “work up a good sweat” or “because you felt like going heavy”. Training means having a long-term plan and executing it – NOT training “for today”.

Final note, training and exercise can and should be used to complement each other for most of the general public. In a way that makes the exercise training, since it’s there for a reason and to cause a specific adaptation, but realistically it’s just planned exercise. This could be walking the dog, going out for a run, taking a yoga or a spinning class or something else.

This works very nicely with a dedicated training program designed to make you stronger. Some light basic movement will not interfere with a strength training program for a regular person. The notion that you should just lift 2x a week and sit on your ass the rest of the time is absurd. Especially if you’re chasing a specific adaptation (strength) for the health, fitness and well-being benefits it offers.

Personally I’ve found that 3 days of strength training, combined with one day of cardiovascular exercise works very well for me. On top of that, I walk quite a bit which is also a nice and very mild way to stay active.

See you soon! <3

Leave a Reply