Are You Training or Exercising? How To Tell The Difference To Get Results!

Are you training, or are you exercising? What’s the difference? Exercising and training may sound like the same thing, but there’s an important distinction. Exercising is moving your body for fun, fitness, or health; and training is continuing to progress towards a specific performance or body composition goal.

The difference is not in the modality itself; it’s the purpose that defines if you are exercising or training. You can run to exercise, or you can run to prepare for an event. You can lift weights to exercise, or you can lift weights to achieve a specific goal, such a body recomposition.

You don’t exercise for the Olympics; you train for them. You don’t exercise to run a marathon, and you don’t exercise to gain muscle, you have to train to reach those goals effectively.

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  • Move your body to feel good physically or mentally, or for fun

  • Maintain health and fitness

  • For weight control

  • To burn calories

Examples of exercising include running to clear your head, following a generalized exercise routine from an app, performing the same streaming workout month after month, or taking a fitness class at the gym with your friends.


  • Training is methodically working towards a measurable goal, such as fat loss, performance improvement, strength, or muscle building.

  • Understanding that calorie burning is not the same as training. I can’t think of a training plan for any sport or activity that would dictate how many calories you need to burn in a session. Training is about the end result..

  • Training always includes progressive overload: Gradual but consistent increase in demands placed on the body

Examples of training include following a structured plan to run a marathon, lose body fat, or deadlift twice your body weight. A training plan includes progressions as you get fitter.

I’m Exercising Every Day But Not Seeing Results!

If you do not see the results you desire, then there’s a good chance you are exercising instead of training. If you lift weights but aren’t getting stronger or leaner, you are exercising. If you’re running, but not getting faster, leaner, or building endurance, you’re exercising.

If you have fat loss goals, or muscle building goals, you’ll get there a lot faster with training for those specific goals.

I am not suggesting that exercising instead of training is wrong. If you exercise to maintain good health, then exercise is all you need. If you are new to working out, exercising will be enough to see initial results.

The Downside of Training

I’m also not implying that training is always better. Athletes often train to the detriment of their health. It’s admirable to chase low body fat percentages, endurance events, or bikini competitions; but the outcome does not necessarily equate to optimal health. Many unhealthy bodies look fit on the outside. Poor sleep patterns, hair loss, irregular periods, illness or injuries are signs that your training plan may be making you less healthy.

You can have six-pack abs and not have optimal health. Running a marathon is commendable, but any exercise or event taken to the extreme can ultimately reduce health and longevity.

The key is to find a balance between exercise and training. We all need to exercise. You only need to train if you have specific performance or body composition goals. If you can balance your training plan with a healthy lifestyle, you get the best of both worlds.

Need help? If you’re exercising, but realize you should be training, I can help!

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Are you exercising or training. How to tell the difference to get results. Save to your favorite Pinterest board for later or to share.

Questions? I’d love to help.

Coach Lea

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