Exercising? Training? What’s the difference? They both improve your fitness and physical capabilities, it’s just one is more goal-oriented whilst the other is more general.

Are You Exercising Or Training?


Exercise is a physical activity carried out for the purposes of improving health and fitness. It’s usually done to condition a specific part of the body or improve a particular part of your fitness. This can apply to a wide variety of aspects of fitness such as:

  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Aerobic capacity
  • Anaerobic capacity
  • Flexibility

Any physical activity you take part in counts as exercise since it will contribute to your physical (and hopefully mental) health and make you stronger. These physical improvements will improve your health by allowing your body to have a greater physical work capacity so you can do more with your body.

In addition, exercise will help your body to regulate insulin, blood sugar and will increase the secretion of hormones such as human growth hormone so it also comes with a whole host of various physiological benefits you may not have even thought of!

If you don’t have any specific goals when it comes to doing physical activity, you’re exercising. That’s not a bad thing in any way, but I think it’s always best if you have something to aim at which is why I feel it’s better if you train rather than exercise.


If exercise is a physical activity, training must always be a form of exercise when it comes to sport. The difference with training is that the exercise you partake in is aimed specifically at improving an aspect of your fitness to enhance your performance in a particular area.

For example, going for an hour run counts as exercise, but it won’t benefit a 100m sprinter so for the sprinter, the hour run isn’t training, but for a 5000m runner, it qualifies as training since the hour run will help to improve their aerobic capacity for the event they are training for. The difference between exercise and training is the relevance of the exercise and how it helps the performer in the sport they take part in.

On the other hand, doing short 30m sprints counts as training for the sprinter since it will teach them to accelerate quickly at the start of a 100m race, and so performing this exercise can lead directly to improvements in race performance which is why it’s considered training.

Train For Anything!

If you train for an event or goal, it gives you something to aim for which I think is important when it comes to maintaining a steady and sustainable exercise routine. Find a sporting activity you enjoy and figure out what your goal is. Then train to achieve that goal. You could train to:

  • Deadlift 2x your body weight (a very respectable achievement)
  • Run a 5 km race in under 20 minutes
  • Row 500m in under 2 minutes
  • Sprint 100m in 12 seconds
  • Run a marathon in under 4 hours
  • Complete an iron man triathlon

If you have something to aim for, it gives you more of a reason to exercise and improve your physical fitness rather than doing it just for the sake of keeping healthy. What’s important is to find a goal you’re motivated to achieve. For me, it’s simply the act of trying to always run faster than I’ve previously done and to hopefully eventually make it to a national standard (and possibly international level).

Exercising Or Training?

If you do physical activity to try and maintain a good physique and general all-round fitness that’s good, I just think you could possibly benefit from training – there’s also a social benefit which comes from joining a club focused around a specific sport, but that’s just my opinion.

Exercise alone is great for improving longevity, wellbeing, mood and simply feeling great and if you prefer the less competitive atmosphere and not placing so much pressure on yourself then go for it. Do whatever works for you, is sustainable and makes you happy!

For those training, it can be great to have something to strive for, but it can also be demotivating if you don’t feel like you’re getting closer to achieving your goals. Whenever you get into these situations, sometimes it’s best to reevaluate how you’re training to achieve your goals and potentially make some adjustments to your training like:

  • Incorporating new exercises targeting specific areas of your fitness.
  • Altering the frequency, intensity and duration of your workouts.
  • Allowing for more rest between training sessions.

Hopefully making some of these adjustments can help you to break through a plateau so you can make more progress.

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