What is training?  The answer to this question is crucial to producing significant and continuous results in the gym.  Far too often, someone will buy a gym membership and start hitting the weights without ever thinking through this basic concept.  Their intention and dedication might be good, but if they haven’t answered this question first, they most likely will not see satisfactory results, past some random adaptations from the first few sessions.  Let’s start by taking a look at the dictionary definition of training:

training

[ˈtrāniNG]

NOUN

  1. the action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.
    “in-service training for staff”
    synonyms:
    instruction · teaching · coaching · tuition · tutoring · tutelage · schooling · [more]

    • the action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.
      “you’ll have to go into strict training”
      synonyms:
      exercise · exercises · physical exercises · working out · bodybuilding · drill · practice · preparation

Notice the second definition especially —“the action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.”  Disregard the part about “preparation for a sporting event,” you don’t have to be a competitive athlete in order to train.  The important part is “the action of undertaking a course of exercise.”  This is key: there is a difference between exercising and training.  This is where many people make their first mistake —they go to the gym and exercise, but do not train.  So what is the difference?

For the purposes of this blog, “exercising” can be defined simply as “performing a physical action/activity which breaks the body’s homeostasis.”

homeostasis

[ˌhōmēəˈstāsəs]

NOUN

  1. the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.

Simply put, it means to start producing enough force, or moving fast enough, that you are pushed out of a resting state, or a state in which you are just walking at a normal pace, or picking up something that requires little effort.

Training, on the other hand, can be defined as intelligently planned and executed exercise over a period of time-based on a certain purpose.  Rather than simply doing random work in the gym and hoping to get the desired results, the exercise is organized into a training program in a methodical way, so that the desired results will most certainly be achieved. So, if the work you’re doing in the gym is random, you’re not training, you’re just exercising, and the likelihood of you achieving your desired results is low.  Of course, it is also important to keep in mind that the fundamental purpose of training is to cause adaptation(s).
If you’re going to expend effort in the gym, you need to get what you want out of it.  It’s going to be hard work and you deserve your physiological and mental reward as well.  You’re not going to get that reward if you’re just doing random exercise.  Before you buy that gym membership, make sure you’re ready to train.

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