Exercise vs. Training:
As the new year approaches, many of us will pick a new gym, try out a new exercise program or implement a new training plan to improve our fitness. I can’t tell you which plan is right for you, but I can share one universal truth about training to help you weed out the ones that aren’t.
A solid training program will have a long term strategy for continual improvement.
It will produce measurable gains is strength, speed and mobility (and whatever additional attributes you are working to cultivate), and it will have a built-in plan for dealing with the plateau’s which occur naturally as our bodies become more efficient at responding to whatever protocol we use to strengthen them.
Training is all about adaptation. We introduce a stimulus (weightlifting, running, rowing, cycling) in order to spark a specific response. This works well, until we stop adding the secret ingredient of fitness appropriate stimulation, and the progress stops. If I build the strength to deadlift 150 pounds, and I continue to deadlift 150 pounds twice a week for the next couple of years, I am no longer gaining strength. I am just maintaining my ability to do the same thing again and again. I can never expect my strength levels to suddenly rise and allow me to deadlift 300 pounds. I can not expect my muscles to continually respond to a now familiar stimulus by getting stronger. And I can not expect an increase in my overall fitness as a result.
There are plenty of classes, DVD’s and workout plans that will make you sweat. There is no shortage of exercises that will make you sore and tired. But, there is a big difference between exercise and training. And, the effect of 50 random, hour-long, exercise sessions will never match the progress that you can make in half the time through training intelligently.
The following passage from Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe hammers this point home.
Exercise and training are two different things. 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 achieve that goal. If a program of physical activity is not designed to get you stronger or faster or better conditioned by producing a specific stress to which a specific desirable adaptation can occur, you don’t get to call it training. It is just exercise.
Rippetoe, Mark-Starting Strength
At The Distance Project, we train our athletes. If you are interested in training with us, get in touch and we’ll find a time to meet and talk. In the meantime take a close look at your training program and ask what would happen if you were to follow it diligently for the entire year. Where would you be at the end of 2015? If the answer is unquestionably fitter, faster and stronger, then you are on the right track. If not, now is a great time to find a program that will get you there.