29 Mar Physical Activity, Exercising and Training; What’s the difference?
One of the key distinctions between turning up to the gym and getting results in the gym is understanding the difference between physical activity, exercising and training.
Physical activity – Daily and work related physical tasks, not result orientated
Exercise – engaging in more strenuous purposeful activity to sustain or improve general health and fitness
Training – the action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event or specific health and fitness objective within a certain time frame.
What does this mean for you?
This simply means the approach that you adopt is going to define what you achieve as either an athlete or someone who is looking to significantly improve their physique and or lifestyle.
These are effectively activities that you should be doing anyway. Walking, an active job if you have one and home chores are examples of things that just a part of life. Their impact on your physique or sporting endeavours is not going to be significant unless you have been completely sedentary and have lived a generally very poor lifestyle. It should be noted that these activities are however beneficial to your health and outside the gym you should still endeavour to be as active as you can.
Exercise in this context is certainly more strenuous than physical activity. Examples include leisurely cycling, jogging (not running), going to the gym or classes but always exercising within yourself. When starting out you will see initial improvements in terms of your body composition and fitness, but there will be a plateau at some point and at best you will stay in a state of maintenance which, is fine if that is your goal.
If you have been doing the same thing for a long period of time and what you do is somewhat challenging but still in your comfort zone and does not significantly push you or promote physical change, you are not training
Training is effectively striving to attain feats that your body has not achieved before. This may range from becoming significantly stronger, faster, fitter or making a significant physique change.
To achieve substantial improvements, the level of effort, intensity and dedication to other areas including nutrition and lifestyle needs to be significant higher than the state of exercising. It should be uncomfortable, sometimes excruciating, pushing your limits when required in your programme. This shouldn’t be confused with debilitating, numbing, sharp or nerve-like pains as this is not good, this type of pain leads to no gain.
You should be taking your body beyond the point where your brain is telling you to stop, overriding the pain signals that are being sent to your muscles telling to take a pause between reps. For example, 12 reps means 12 reps, not 9 reps followed by a break and then another 3. There is a difference, and the sooner you can understand that the better.
It’s small details like that can be the difference between the result you want and the results that you end up achieving. You’ve got to force your body to change, give it a reason to adapt and basically get it to do things that it has never done before.
If you’re not sure if you are reaching this level, here a couple of simple questions you can ask yourself.
- When you complete your last rep of an exercise, could you have done more?
- Can you talk while performing the exercise?
- Are you 100% focussed on what you are doing at the time?
If you can achieve a lot more reps, you’ve not achieved that level. If you can hold a conversation, you are definitely not at that level. If your mind is able to wonder elsewhere and the intensity of the exercise is not keeping you completely focussed on your activity, again you have not reached that level.
Please bear in mind that this is something that we build clients up to, and it is not necessarily for every client who walks through the door, because it is not A. always necessary or B. appropriate for certain populations.
If that isn’t you and you have established a good base of training, eventually you are going to have to learn to take it to that next level if that is where you want to end up.
Whether it is to enhance your physique or move up the ladder in your sport, you are going to have to get comfortable with being very uncomfortable. I don’t mean the “Beast Mode” we so often see on social media, throwing weights around and making unnecessary noises does not make you one,
I mean focussing solely on the task at hand, making the most of every set, rep or rest period rather than simply looking good for the camera. This is something the best athletes are able to associate with, as when it comes down to game time, they are able to flip that switch and execute all the things necessary to be number one.
Training this hard, like all other aspects of training is a skill in itself, even when you reach this level you not need to train like this all the time. It is however, important to be able to have that switch in your locker when required
“Train for you, not for likes”