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Exercise vs training

by: Samarth Bansal | May 27, 2022

Since February 2021, I have largely maintained the healthy habits I adopted during my fat loss phase. I exercise regularly, move frequently and eat well.

Another factor is crucial: I left Delhi and moved home to Mussoorie in Arpil 2021. Living in the mountains has only made me fitter. Hiking is not a touristy excursion: it’s part of my daily life. I walk a lot, including elevations. And I don’t think of that as an exercise. It is just something I love to do. My endurance has increased, energy levels have improved. I can feel it.

But what I feel has not translated into numbers: even though I was regular with at-home dumbbell-based workouts, my body composition has not changed.

That does not mean what I am feeling is misguided. It simply indicates that in the broad spectrum of fitness, improvement in one aspect does not mean improvement in another.

This is why the distinction between exercise and training is crucial. In the book Bigger Leaner Stronger, Michael Matthews writes:

Exercise is physical activity done for its own sake—to burn calories or improve energy levels or mood, whereas training is a systematic method of exercising done to achieve a specific, longer-term goal, like increased strength, muscle definition, or athleticism….Exercise can make you healthier, but it guarantees nothing in the way of fat loss or muscle gain, the two biggest physiological levers you need to know how to work to build the body of your dreams.

That explains largely static measurements over the last year. I have been doing things, but with no goal in mind.

That’s absolutely fine. The only point being that achieving a measurable fitness goal needs more. If you want to move the numbers — reduce body fat percentage and gain muscle mass — following a focused and strategic will lead to better outcomes.