T Nation

Exercising vs. Training: When Did You Learn the Distinction?

I’m on my deload week from a 531 program, and joined a friend to workout in his garage yesterday. He planned it, and it was a circuit of moves like: bicycles, then push ups, then jump squats, then curls. All for time. Then you did another circuit of different moves. To be honest, I didn’t push it much because I had a game later that day and I’m taking it easy in general this week.

But it got me thinking: I used to workout like this. Lots of different things with no rhyme or reason. Sure, it would get you tired and sweaty and keep you in shape, but you’d hit a wall with progress. Also, I don’t find those workouts at all enjoyable.

Then, when I started training and progressing on barbells (and even bodyweight) where each workout was planned to accomplish something and fit with the other training days, I really saw progress. I have learned I really don’t like exercising, but I love training. If I say this to most people, they would think I am crazy.

How did you all get into “training”? Did you just jump in at the outset, or did you spend years “exercising” before making the transition?


I exercised until I joined this forum. Then I figured out I needed to be training instead.

I started training at an early age for wrestling at school. Pre-season conditioning, then regular in season practice.

Then just goofing off exercising by various means all of the other time. Pretty much my whole adult life has just been exercising just for the sake of doing it, but I did “train” for a 3 plate bench, 4 plate dl for a while.

For me, if there is no competitive purpose, it’s really just exercising regardless of structure.

That is where I think the “compete against yourself” mindset comes in handy. Without some purpose most people will lose their drive.

Luckily I started lifting in high school and got hooked on seeing results. We maxed out a couple times each semester and seeing my maxes climb was addictive.

I followed the coach’s workout every class and made sure to do my favorite stuff while occasionally skipping the leg stuff. He didn’t even program squats.

The summer before my senior year was when my focus changed to physique goals. I wasn’t looking to get ripped or anything. I just wanted to grow. I used a version of a PPL split with 3-4 exercises per muscle group every day. I trained six days per week and managed to gain 20 lbs (most of it in the last month).

I returned to school and continued doing my program instead of coach’s. I promise I was the only kid who made progress over the summer. As a senior I could take “classes” like office and teacher aide. I also took a college course for my last period and it allowed me to get out of school 90 minutes early three days a week. I would go to the weight room and lift when I got out early or during my aid classes so I could train every day (we had A and B days so weights was only two or three days a week).

I’ve been training my whole adult life. I’ve never exercised. Even when I do stuff like you described, it has a purpose - conditioning.

1 Like