The difference between exercise and training

Look around you and take it all in. America is in a very unhealthy place, despite the fact that you constantly hear a message from health gurus and government officials telling you to “get off your butt”, “play for 60 minutes a day” and “start exercising!”

Yet Americans continue to lead the way for the fattest country on earth.

My advice? Stop exercising! At least stop exercising in the traditional sense. More people than ever are exercising: whether its attending aerobic classes, buying in-home exercise machines that resemble torture devices or trying new forms of cardio exercise. Yet here we are, still increasing the obesity epidemic every day. You can go into any modern globo gym and see the same scene played out: lots of people reading or watching TV on the treadmill, talking, socializing around the weight equipment, and some doing exercises on strange machines that definitely don’t mimic proper human movement. This kind of undirected exercise isn’t doing much of anything to contribute to your fitness.

It appears to me that these people are simply going through the motions, giving exercises the same enthusiasm they give to washing dishes. This lackluster shuffle around the gym is what I would categorize as exercise. This “failure to train with a sufficient level of focus and intensity is the greatest obstacle to developing the results most profess to be seeking” (S. Phillips)

Here is an example: Driving to the gym so you can walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes.

Though often used interchangeably, training and exercise are vastly different. Exercise is moving without a purpose and just going through the motions. It’s what your Grandma does as she walks around the block.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for anything that elevates a heart rate and gets you off of your butt and for some, this is all that they might be capable of at the moment. But one of the biggest differences between training and exercising is that training is not an obligation that requires great discipline; training is powered by a vision. It is something that when you go to sleep, you can’t wait to wake up the next morning to increase a PR or work on a weakness.

The few who truly mean business are easy to spot.They are usually in the corner of the gym, where most real free weight sections have been relegated to. They are walking around the gym with their head down, focused, intense with a sense of purpose. They aren’t assholes, they are just in the “zone”.

My advice? Talk to one of these people (after they are finished with their lifts) and see if they can assist you with your lifts and technique. Then get a training partner who is driven with purpose and get on a program. If you could only have one reason to make strength training part of your fitness life, try this fact on for size: It is the only way to re-shape your body. Attempting to transform a body with cardio alone is a futile gesture. Someone once said “if you’re shaped like a pear and do nothing but cardio training, you might lose some weight. But you’ll just end up looking like a smaller pear.”

If you are serious about making a physical transformation and have a real desire to make measurable change, stop wasting time exercising and starting training!

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