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Exercising VS. Training

Posted by Coach Hawk on

Do you think there’s a difference between ‘exercising’ vs ‘training’?


This was a question I got asked by a friend the other day.


Often times, I see people at the gym doing the same exercises with the same weight, for the same number of reps every time.


I take a sideways glance and think to myself- “That guy has been doing the exact same thing for the past year. That’s amazing in a way.”


However, this means the “progression” aspect is missing in this individual’s training.


Still, it’s is all good if the goal is to simply hit the gym, enjoy exercising, get a sweat on and relax with a nice cold beer after.


This is exercise, not training.

Read that again.


Moving the body in and of itself is the purpose of exercise. If you enjoy moving your body and feeling good for a while, there’s absolutely no problem with that; I have nothing negative to say about it at all because someone is taking steps to be more proactive about their health.


Training on the other hand, is a process through which to achieve medium and long-term objectives (i.e muscle/strength gains) and that differs from exercise which achieves a short-term purpose.


In training, moving the body is merely a means, not the purpose itself.


If you are exercising, it’s not an issue to do the same exercises with the same weight and the same number of reps each time. However, systematic training honoring the “principle of progression” is necessary in order to achieve medium and long-term training goals.

Individual context is also important- Rate of progression that is appropriate for an athlete who maintains proper nutrition and gets a good night’s sleep will differ from the rate appropriate for someone who under-sleeps, eats out everyday, and is overstressed.


Either way- I have massive respect for those who consistently show up for themselves with the intent of taking steps to improve their health. We all start somewhere right? Truth be told that’s how I first got started!

When you go in the gym to train, you should know the goal of every session and every set.

Having the appropriate intent from session to session and set to set is going to play a role in ANY training goal.

Is the goal...

1. Load?

2. Intensity?

3. Volume?

4. Time under tension?

5. Metabolic?


For those of us who prioritize our training and body composition related goals, this may seem like common sense- but if common sense was so ‘common’ everyone would have it.


Having the appropriate level of intent will allow you to...

1. Maximize training performance and minimize risk of injury

2. Understanding how to initiate the movement with the target muscle

3. Executing movements correctly and safely

4. Emphasize the tension on the target muscle

5. Controlling all portions of the contraction/range of motion


And sometimes improving these ‘small’ things entails…

1. Improving your motor coordination, control, and stability in movements

2. Slowing down and controlling the rep tempo

3. Using lighter weights

4. Working at a pace at which you can recover/improve.


Resistance training is a skill you get better at and develop over time. If your goal is to get better at this specific skill, you have to CARE about improving the little things that most people overlook— but once you’ve established your foundation you’ll be in a better position to have more efficient/effective training sessions and progress long term (hopefully) injury-free.


Most people tend to try and progress with weights they have not yet earned the right to work with and really... you should know what true failure feels like and be able to go there with no regression in form or execution, before considering to work with heavier loads. When you fail, the movement and your technique shouldn't change, you either lose range you're usually able to move your joint through or you lose the ability to contract the target muscle— thus the limiting factor being the target muscle.


How many of you focus on improving the little things many people overlook?

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