Exercise vs. training and why you need a personal trainer

With 2014 here, many people are thinking of New Years goals and resolutions.  About a month ago, some fellow trainers and I started discussing the difference between training and exercising.  Many people don’t realize the difference, and with the influx of people starting to exercise again after the Holidays, I’d like to expand on the topic.

Are you exercising or training?

Exercise is the act of deliberate physical exertion with short term intentions. This category covers a vast majority of gym-goers.  If you have specific goals with an intention to meet them in a specific time, and you have a PROGRAM to help you get there, then you are training.  There is a higher level of commitment to oneself when you have a training plan and the success of training is judged over time by changes in performance.  The main difference though is short term versus long term; ‘exercise’ meets a short-term goal such as blowing off steam, burn calories, etc., but to be in training is working towards a long-term goal such as running a half marathon, losing 2% body fat, or improving sport-specific fitness (think of high school and college athletes training for their respective sports).

Here’s an example; let’s say you want to ‘get healthier,’ therefore you start to come to the gym a few times a week to use a bike or treadmill.  Once in a while you use some of the circuit weight machines and you have no real plan for each gym visit and you tend to do what you feel like doing for as long as you feel like doing it.  This would be considered exercising.    Within a month or two of this, you probably get bored and you’re also probably not seeing the results you were hoping for, so you consider quitting.  Does this sound like you?  Perhaps you have gone through this cycle a few times.

On the other hand, let’s say you want to get healthier by losing 15lbs by spring break and you want to run your first 5k next summer.  You now have specific goals and a specific time frame in which you want to meet each of these goals. Without going into specifics, the next step would be to create a workout program that would include cardiovascular exercise (primarily running), strength training, and a balanced diet.

Progression is an important step to reaching your goals in the time frame specified.  As the person in the ‘get healthy’ example learned, doing the same workout over and over will not get you in any better shape to run that half marathon or lose 2% body fat.  In order to gain strength for the half marathon or increase lean mass to help improve your body composition to lose 2% body fat, it is absolutely necessary to progress the strength and cardio exercises you are doing by increasing resistance and duration and by varying the muscles being worked.  As the old saying goes, it doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger.

Do you need a personal trainer?

Training can be overwhelming when you consider all the pieces that need to come together such as diet and variety of strength training and cardio, maintaining good form to reduce risk of injury, improving flexibility, and more. Here are some ways that a qualified personal trainer can help you meet your goals.

  • A personal trainer will help you set REALISTIC goals in a REALISTIC time frame.
  • A personal trainer will create a program for you based on your specific goals, circumstances, work around restrictions/injuries, etc.
  • A trainer will keep an eye on the big picture while setting smaller short term goals to prevent you from getting discouraged along the way.
  • Perform assessments at a regular interval to measure gains in performance.
  • Help keep motivation high even after months into the training program when it is easy to become desensitized to the work you are doing.
  • Progress your workouts in a safe, but consistent way

Make your dreams into reality
I am here to help you make your goals into reality! If you are ready to make some changes in 2014, but you’re not sure where to start, send me a message to set up a free consultation!