The American Heart Association would like you to get some physical activity every week. It defines it as Physical activity is anything that moves your body and burns calories. This includes things like walking, climbing stairs and stretching.

To many, this is exercise and many use the words exercise and training interchangeably, and this is incorrect. There is a very clear difference between exercise and training (I’ll get to practice a bit later on).

The term “workout” is used in both exercise and training, and it relates to a scheduled event that will, in some form or another, produce a desired effect, whether this is getting a good “pump”, burning some calories, “hitting” your pecs, or even just getting in some “me time”.

You wouldn’t use the term “workout” to clean out the garage, even though it may generate the same effect.

Exercise is a physical activity that is performed for the effects it will generate today. Each workout is performed to satisfy the immediate need of the exerciser today. There is no real specific planning behind it. Even if there is an objective behind it there is no planning nor programming in exercise. You get a good “workout”, you get sweaty, you give your arms a good pump, and you feel great afterwards. Exercise may well be doing the same thing all the time you hit the gym, as long as it accomplishes the task of making you feel the way you want to feel today.

Training, on the other hand, is physical activity performed for purposes of achieving a long-term performance goal. The workout itself is but a segment of a long and well planned process that will enable the athlete to achieve the desired and well -specified performance goal. Whether you are a competitive athlete or a recreational athlete, if you have a specific physical sports performance objective (or goal), then you are an athlete, no matter what you age is.

For the training to be well planned, it will need to generate metabolic and architectural changes that, over a period of time, will generate an accumulated physiological adaptation of the organism and thus enable the athlete to display an improved performance. The physiological adaptation can be increased endurance, or increased strength, or a mixture of both.

For training to be effective the Stress Recovery Adaptation principle must be applied carefully as adaptation is obviously mandatory for an increase in performance.

One of the most important aspects of effective training is that the accumulated physiological adaptation must be monitored and quantified. The athlete must be able to measure it as accurately as possible and compared with pre-adapted performances in order to measure the effectiveness and efficiency.

Monitoring adaptations is fundamental for any training program, with subsequent workouts based on the results of previous workouts. Only with a well-structured plan, or program, will an athlete be able to reach the objectives that are set.

If the training stress of a workout, or a series of workouts, does not expose you to an increased stress, either through load, repetitions, volume, intensity or time between sets, then it cannot yield quantifiable adaptations, and therefore it’s not really a program, but a mere series of workouts.

Training is not only applicable to the competitive athlete, but to anyone who’s objective is based on a metabolic and architectural change, whether that is getting “bigger arms” or running a half marathon.

The more specific is the objective, the more carefully structured will the programming and the monitoring of adaptation need to be.

Now we come to Practice. Practice is basically a repetitive execution of movement patterns used in a performance that requires accuracy and precision. You practice your ability to execute a movement repeatedly with as little deviation on each attempt from the ideal model of that particular movement. Practice generates a skill, which in turn needs to be constantly practiced.

Training and practice are not the same of course. Training seeks to improve physical parameters that are not dependent on the specific movement patterns used in the performance of a skill. Practice, on the other hand, focused exclusively on improving and perfecting the ability to perform a specific skill in the most optimal of manners.

An official MBL baseball weighs between 5 and 5 ¼ ounces. To practice pitching a baseball you need to repeat the movement of pitching with a ball of the same weight until form breaks due to fatigue. Then you rest and you do it all over again the next day, and the next and the next. This will, eventually, better your skill at pitching a baseball.

Practicing pitching with a heavier baseball with the notion that this will increase your pitching strength is completely incorrect. This will do nothing but deviate your pitching motion and change your motor skills to a less than correct model of that particular motion. It will actually slow down your movement and will eventually carry over to when you are pitching a regular weighed ball.

Strength, both relative and absolute, can only be achieved through resistance training. If you practice and perfect your skill, and you are stronger because of training, this will make you an overall better athlete.

With all skills being equal, the stronger athlete will outperform the weaker athlete.

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