Are you Training or Just Exercising? - Ivana Chapman

Are you Training or Just Exercising?

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man exercising with palms together

The difference between training and just exercising is about intensity and focus.

People often throw around the terms interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between training and just exercising. I define training as a defined workout plan that gets you specifically to a goal. Exercise could be any form of recreation outside of your normal intensity of movement.

You could think about training as focused exercise. So should you be training…or is exercise sufficient?


The majority of people wake up somewhere between 6 and 8am, go to work and sit on their butts for about 8-12 hours, then go home and lie on the couch and watch TV for 2-3 hours, only to do it again the next day.  On Saturday they do some shopping, run a few errands, and watch a movie on TV.  They get up late on Sunday morning, maybe hit the golf course for a few hours (where they usually ride a cart, not that it really matters), and then watch some more TV and sports in the evening.

Are we getting the picture here?


For most people, just getting to the gym 3 times a week for an hour is progress.  And all those little tips that lifestyle magazines and newspapers give you, like take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park further from work and walk the rest of the way, can be considered exercise by the inactive majority.

For more advanced exercisers, those little tips might contribute to the “an object in motion tends to stay in motion” factor, but there won’t be any perceivable training effect.


For a 50-something man who just wants to keep healthy and fit, squash might be a great form of exercise. For the 25-year-old bodybuilder who dreams of turning pro, it may hinder his results by reducing his ability to retain muscle mass. The bodybuilder needs to train intensely with weights, and other forms of exercise would not necessarily contribute to his goal.

Everyone should engage in some sort of recreation (walking, cycling, casual sport) on a regular basis. There are numerous benefits to mood, circulation, and mobility by just moving your body, rather than having it chained behind a desk for hours at a time.


For those of us that are more advanced with training, we need to set specific goals for our workouts, whether it’s building muscle, improving strength/speed/agility, or accelerating fat loss. When I’m preparing for a physique competition, the weight training and HIIT work that I do is part of my training schedule. Sure, I also enjoy riding my bike around the city, taking the odd Pilates class, or playing beach volleyball on the weekends, but that’s not part of my “training”. Yes, it’s exercise, but it doesn’t get me specifically to my goal.

If I were a professional beach volleyball player then playing beach volleyball would be part of my training. For overall health, exercise on a daily basis is important and vitalizing.

If you have particular goals for sport or for your physique, you need to take it to a higher level and get training!

Ivana Chapman 

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 6-year-old boy. She is a writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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