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Training and exercise are all too often used as interchangeable terms in today’s fitness industry. The difference, however subtle, is very important to know. Everyone knows that they should be exercising. Chances are, you’ve either received pressure from your doctor or peers to hit the gym at some point in your life. However, taking a few extra steps and actually planning out a workout program can pay dividends in the long run. I am going to convince you to TRAIN.
Exercise is planned physical activity. Going to the gym for thirty to sixty minutes daily and doing whatever gets you all hot and sweaty is defined as exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine wants you to engage in thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five times a day to stay “healthy.” Adhering to these guidelines is adequate to maintain a baseline level of health and fitness for the vast majority of people.
For our purposes, we will define training as the exercise performed for the sole purpose of achieving a long term goal. Your goal is irrelevant. Training to lower your total cholesterol by 10 points and training to set the world deadlift record are both legitimate training goals, and need to be programmed for accordingly. This means that any time you set a new weight loss goal of 10lbs, you are no longer just exercising, you’re training. The effectiveness of your training program will vary wildly due to a large number of factors. Age, training status, and experience are just a few.
You don’t have to commit very much time into planning out a workout program for it to be effective. An hour of planning out a detailed program in accordance with your goals can save you months of spinning your wheels, mindlessly exercising.
The takeaway from this short essay is to start training and stop exercising. Take a few minutes and write down a few long term and short term goals. What gets measured, gets managed. If you know how to program your exercises to reach the goals, then go for it. If not, do some research and hire a competent coach. I cannot stress this enough. The internet is filled with enough misinformation to make your head spin. Find someone that knows what they are doing and work with them for at least long enough to ensure your safety and progress in the long run.