Are you training or are you exercising?
To quote Mark Rippetoe – “Exercise is physical activity for its own sake, a workout done for the effect it produces today, during the workout or right after you’re through. Training is physical activity done with a longer-term goal in mind, the constituent workouts of which are specifically designed to produce that goal”.
For most people exercise is perfectly adequate, and there is no arguing that there are many health benefits associated with it. For others, however, purely exercising is not enough to achieve their desired outcomes. The only way to reach their goals is through a structured training program. I am not saying one is better than the other, but that it’s important to understand the difference and recognise which is going to help you with what you want!
I associate training with a specific task and continued progression; it’s a process, which leads to a specific, desired result later on. It requires continual adaptations. The only way to achieve this is through regular, structured, and specific progressive programming.
There are times, however, where exercise mimics the effects of training. When you begin anything new you generally experience rapid improvement, the same applies with exercise. This is because it produces a stress that the body hasn’t dealt with before so it adapts to better cope next time. You continue to adapt (for a while), becoming stronger and fitter, except you eventually reach a point where the stronger and fitter you are the harder it is to get fitter and stronger. You have reached a point of diminishing returns. This is where exercise might lead to training, depending on your overall health and fitness goals.