Exercising and training, are they actually different and if so why? And what is the secret of making fitness progress?

There are numerous quotes out there, particularly in social media world, along the lines of, “I don’t exercise, I train”. So is that just semantics or a slightly self-satisfied, arrogance-tinged truth?

I suppose it could always be debated by those who wish to, but I would say there is truth in there being some difference between exercising and training, even if it is fundamentally in the way they are regarded.

Whats’ the difference?

Fitness would seem to be more about maintenance, ticking over, keeping in shape, looking after yourself, expending calories and maintaining healthy weight and mobility.

Training has more specific purposes – whether it be for a specific sport or a challenge like a sponsored run – and is about specific advances and improvements. Training programmes will be adjusted in intensity and composition to keep you moving forwards and attaining your goals. This is not about maintenance, it is about more specific progress and betterment.

So if you are all about your general fitness and not actually training to make yourself a better rugby player, mountain climber, marathon runner, swimmer, powerlifter or gymnast for example, then you can still apply the same mindset and regard your exercising as training.

Training principles are key to making your exercise count

And if you make your exercise really count you will see tremendous fitness progress…

It is all about adaptations. You ask questions of your body and place stresses and strains on it, and it will adapt. This is what fitness and strength progress is. According to what your specific aims are (they might be based on a certain sport for example) you aim for and create certain adaptations, whether they are for strength, endurance, speed, flexibility.

Joey Bull - I love to use gymnastic rings and you can make great fitness progress with these.

Joey Bull – I love to use gymnastic rings and you can make great fitness progress with these.

Be Specific

Progressively heavier weights will build strength. Stretching through greater ranges of movement will aid flexibility…and so on. It sounds simple and rather obvious, but it is true!

So the first key is to know your goal, understand what is required to attain that goal and then make your training specific to it. Remember – this is what training is.

Knowing these elements is critical as your body will respond well to a small number of stresses, and creating that all important adaptation, if you load it with too many that are non-complimentary, progress will be slow.

So if you need to be working on cardiovascular and strength endurance, these go together perfectly and are complimentary. Whereas bodybuilding and cardiovascular are a less good fit.

To see real results in good time – focus on a couple of complementary components at a time.

Progressive Overload

If you simply repeat the same exercises and the same intensity day in, day out, week in, week out, you will quite quickly stop seeing and feeling any progress.

Of course any exercise is better than nothing, but I am talking about fitness progress here and it won’t be attained by repeating the same old, same old.

Progressive overload means adding a little more; a little more weight, a little longer, faster, a higher heart rate etc. These individual increases can be very small, but over the course of a year, they will become significant.

Don’t stand still and flatline with your exercise. Real training is about pushing forwards and achieving genuine fitness progress.

In Part 2 I will conclude by looking at further means to genuine and lasting fitness progress.

Connect here with WatchFit Expert Joey Bull


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