21 Feb Are You Exercising or Are You Training?

Front SquatDo you exercise or do you train?

Yes, there is a difference.

What I’ll explain is a major shift in mindset that will make a massive difference in our continuous desire to get better results.

I understand this concept very well because it’s a big mistake I made for years.

I spent many years exercising in the gym.

But, a few years ago, I re-discovered what I already knew was the truth about getting sustainable results and truly getting better.

In reading the great new edition of Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe, he beautifully explained the differences between exercise and training, which really got me thinking about this important topic.

I’ll give you his definitions, then I’ll give mine.


Exercise is physical activity performed for the effect it produces TODAY – right now.

Each “workout” is performed for the purpose of producing a stress that satisfies the immediate need of the exercise: burning some calories, getting hot, sweaty, and out of breath, pumping up the biceps, stretching.

Exercise may well involve doing exactly the same thing every time you do it, as long as it accomplishes the task of making you feel like you want to feel today.


Training is physical activity performed for the purposes of satisfying a long-term performance goal, and is therefore about the process instead of the constituent workouts of the process.

The process must be planned carefully to produce this result.

Long term improvement is the objective of training, and this requires both time and a willingness to displace the feeling of having achieved a goal until the achievement has actually occurred.

I think you can see the differences between exercise and training now.

They are entirely different things.

While many competitive athletes implement training programs, it doesn’t mean that if you’re not competing you shouldn’t use specific training strategies to accomplish the results you want.

I want to be really honest here because I wondered why I wasn’t getting results for many years in my own training.

There are a few reasons for this, but one major factor was that I was exercising, I wasn’t training.

Here’s the big take-away.

Training produces results.

Exercising produces a temporary feeling.

Again, I know this personally as it’s something did for years.

Thankfully, now I’m back on track with what I had discovered early on in my weight training career.

What’s most important is the long term process of training to achieve sustainable and specific goals.

Random acts of variety with exercise produces random results, if any results at all.

I realize that people want a good “workout” and the word “workout” resonates with people today.

They understand that word and they know what it means.

Personally, I can’t stand the word.

Workout means what is described above, a physical activity performed just for an effect right now.

There is a time and a place for a “workout” (for example, variety days, off-season training, or in between specific programs).

But, it’s just a workout, it’s not getting better from session to session.

I much prefer to describe a “workout” as a “training session” because that means I’m working on progression each and every session.

Today, I could care less about getting smoked or getting in a good “workout.”

That means nothing to me.

Exercise ’till you puke?


Not me, I’ll pass on that, thanks very much.

No, I want to get better, improve my skills and technique, get a little stronger, a little more conditioned, and be on the path to achieve a specific goal.

I train hard, I always have.

But, I never, ever adopted the “workout ’till you puke” mentality and, frankly, it makes zero sense to me.

I guess you could say I’m a “non-conformist” in my training approach, maybe I am.

As a reader here, you probably get this concept already, but many do not.

This is a concept, a truth, that I want to help educate more people on with this shift in mentality from exercise to training.

Training is transformational.

Exercise is not.

Exercising is just a workout, producing a feeling for that workout, for that day.

It’s not a process or a journey, it’s just designed to kick your ass.

Training is always a step towards getting better.

Working out is just “working out.”

For many people, exercising (or a workout) may be all they’re looking for.

But, that’s unfortunate because the long term process and strategy is missing.

This is not a new concept I’m talking about here.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been saying for a long time now that to produce better results, we need to identify our top goal and pick a program that will address that goal.

Again, this is training, not just exercising.

No matter where you are in your own journey, I would encourage you to think about the longer term vision of what you want and where you want to be.

Just thinking like this will be a transformation.

Understanding the difference between exercise and training will have a major impact on your process and your results.

Is training hard work, in terms of planning, skill development, and focus?

Yes, it is.

It also produces far greater benefits and results than just a “workout” ever will.

And, if you don’t believe me, train and experience this transformation yourself.

Then, get back to me and let me know if what I say is true.

Do yourself a huge favor.

TRAIN, don’t exercise.

And, think about the longer term vision, if you’re not already thinking about this.

Put yourself in the minority of people who actually do this and experience exceptional results.

Remember, it’s all about the process.


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