Stop exercising and start training. “What is the difference”, you may ask?
Exercise could be defined as anything you may do in the gym (lift weights, “cardio”, stretch, foam roll, balance on one foot etc) which has no long term effect; it is simply done to produce effect today. These effects could be: feeling better after a crappy day, breaking a sweat, getting “pumped”, or getting a high five from your energetic group exercise instructor.
If you go to the gym and have no idea what are you going to do that day – you are exercising and you are not training. If you go to gym day after day, hoping to lose weight, but you can not see the product of your work there – you are just exercising and you should be training. If your trainer comes up with a workout on the spot – he or she, at that very moment, transforms from your Personal Trainer to a “Personal Exerciser” and he or she is exercising you and not training you. If you are in the gym and most of the time there you are checking out the hottie on the elliptical…, well that just makes you a creep. You get a picture right?
Exercising is perfectly suitable for many people. It is sure better than sitting on the couch and watching reruns of some housewife shows while eating junk food. However, if you are looking to achieve any specific goal you should be training.
Training is a process you go through with a long term goal in mind. It is a physical activity carefully designed and strategically implemented in order to achieve the goal(s).
In order to start training you need to develop a specific goal that you want to train for. After that, you need to find out what is your starting point. After that, you need to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you develop a strategic plan, where you carefully lay out (periodize) your training schedule, based on proven fitness principles, focusing on basics first. Finally, you go about executing the plan piece by piece. Since training has a long term effect, each workout is an important piece of a puzzle, therefore, you should focus on each workout (and not on the hottie on the elliptical) and get the most out of it.
Exercising is the trip without a clear destination. You get on a bus and you just go. Then, you take the next bus somewhere else and so on and so on because you don’t know where you’re headed. You may eventually get to where you want to go but, it may take you a very long time and it can cost you a lot more money than if you chose a direct path, which is what training is all about. So which path are you on?