Although this may appear to be somewhat of a pedantic debate on initial sight, I believe that there is actually a big difference between ‘exercising’ and ‘training’. So this month I will talk about the differences between these terms and why you may be doing the wrong thing to achieve the results you seek.
Walk around any major city in Europe and you will see many statues of Greek and Roman gods dotted around various squares, buildings and parks. You will also notice that most of the statues portray the body image that many of us seek today, both male and female. This alone would suggest that the concept of either training or exercise have been around for many centuries.
The first ancient games were held in Olympia around the time of 800BC. The games were staged for many decades and would have included such events as boxing, wrestling, jumping and discus. The athletes would have had to train for these specific events and therefore ‘general exercise’ would not have been on the agenda.
Although massively popular, exercise classes do not often produce the results which people seek and I believe this is due to a lack of muscle contraction. Exercise classes are fantastic if you want to get hot and sweaty, get the heart pumping and become out of breath. These are all great outcomes because they all do have a positive benefit and many people see cardiovascular improvements and weight loss from attending these classes. However, not many see changes in terms of strength and muscle toning or aesthetics.
Because you are simply ‘moving around’ your muscles are not being used to much of their potential and therefore you are missing out on a larger array of positive benefits from your efforts.
Unlike exercise classes, training (in this case weight training) involves a conscious muscle contraction where the trainee is, or should be, asked to squeeze particular muscles to encourage activation. This contraction of the muscles ultimately produces a cascade of hormonal changes which many exercise classes will not.
This provides your body with the ability to burn calories while you are training, but unlike aerobic exercise, burn calories for up to 72 hours afterwards, making it a much more effective form of fat loss.
Losing body fat is only one part of the ‘desired body’ journey. Simply losing body fat but not building any muscle will leave you lean but shapeless. You have to start building muscle to achieve that toned or athletic look. The level of muscle building is then determined by your training frequency and effort, as well as your macro nutrient consumption.
Among other benefits such as improved heart, lung and bone health, increased energy and stress relief, a study published in the International SportMed Journal suggests that morning weight training greatly improves our quality of sleep and lengthens the time of sleep the night after training. So before you embark on your health and fitness campaign, consider training with a professional to get greater results from your efforts.