3 Reasons Why You Are Probably Just Exercising and Not Training  

by Clint Mally

 Tell me if this sounds familiar: "After 30 days of doing program (fill in the blank), I lost 30 pounds, and now I feel great!" If you are a human being who breathes air and walks on the earth, you have encountered a commercial or advertisement that says something like this. The thing is, I don’t think these ads are lying. I think that they are telling the truth. The results that these fad workout programs promise can be achieved with exercising. However, in order to reach sustainable and long-term progress, you have to look beyond exercising and understand what it means to train. Keep reading to see how you can tell if you're training or just exercising. 

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1. You Don't Know the Difference Between Training and Exercising


Exercising is moving your body in any way that burns calories and gets your heart rate up. Dancing, CrossFit, yoga, and running are all forms of exercise. Anything, with or without weights, that causes you to raise your body temperature and burn calories at a higher rate than you would if you were sitting on the couch is exercising. 


Exercise is not bad. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against exercise. If sitting around at a desk or in your car or on the couch is how you spend most of your time, getting up and taking a walk is a great thing. You should do it. It will make you feel better, and it is good for your body. 


Exercise works… for awhile. When you go from doing nothing to doing something - no surprise - your body responds. You will lose weight, build some muscle, and your mood will probably improve. If you go to a spin class, even by just pedaling a bike, your whole body will get a little stronger and more fit, especially if you haven’t been doing anything else. This is called "The Novice Effect." If you are deconditioned, doing anything will improve your body and make you lose weight. If a person has been doing nothing or next to nothing, even a Shake Weight will help for a little bit. That is why these advertisements are not really lying. Rather, they are not telling the whole story. 


Training is doing specific movements in a way that progresses and builds someone up to reach a goal or an objective. If one day I squat 100 pounds for 3 sets of 5, and two days later I squat 105 pounds for 3 sets of 5, I am training. I know that I am doing a little more, getting a little stronger and a little better each workout. If I run a 400 meter lap around the track in 70 seconds one day, and two days later I run the same 400 meter lap in 68 seconds, then I am training. I am getting faster. The numbers tell me I am training. I have clear results that I can look to. I have data. I don’t have to wonder if I am getting more fit or strong based upon just how I feel. I can look at the results and know. When we progressively increase load and speed and decrease time on a given activity in a systematic way, we are training and not exercising.


2. You Are Probably Following the Advice of Personal Trainers, Magazines, or The Next Fad Workout


Most personal “trainers” are good at helping people exercise. They have clients swing ropes, balance on a BOSU ball, and do single-arm dumbbell shoulder presses. This keeps things different and interesting, and it will work for awhile. However, most of these personal exercisers keep no record of the weight being used, do not repeat exercises enough to measure progress, and focus on making the client feel  like they had a good workout. It is a shame that many people fall out of fitness because they simply don't know if they are getting better. Without a measurable training plan, you will always wonder if you are getting stronger, fitter, and healthier. This brings me to my final point: you cannot train without a goal


3. You Don't Have a Goal or Plan

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 What is your goal? Is it to get stronger, run faster, lose weight, or gain muscle? All of these are great goals that can be measured. However, to reach a specific goal, you need more than exercise. For anything that takes a sustained amount of time to achieve, like losing weight and keeping it off or dead-lifting 400 pounds, you need a training plan. If you don’t know where to start or how to execute that plan, you need a knowledgeable personal trainer, someone who has experience with helping other people reach their personal fitness goals. You need someone who can help you create a plan and educate you about fitness along the way, helping you progress toward your goal each and every workout. Don't wait to start training! It can be one of the most rewarding commitments that will change the way you interact with people, approach problems, and handle stress.  Set a goal, make a plan, and start training!

About the Author

Clint Mally is a sought after personal trainer and group fitness coach in the Atlanta area. He is a CrossFit Competitor and a Spartan Race National Qualifier. When he is not training, he likes to spend his free time hanging out with his wife and family.

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