Exercise is NOT Training

Random Exercise is NOT Training

Adapted from an article by Mark Rippetoe - former Cross-fit gym owner


Exercise, as it is done in a group-x classes at the “big box” gyms or your typical “bootcamp” is NOT Training.    Exercise is physical activity for its own sake, a workout done for the effect it produces today, during the workout.

You exercise because you perceive that the effect you produce today is of benefit to you today.  You “smashed” or “crushed” or “smoked” that workout… today.

Training, on the other hand,  is about the process you undertake to generate a specific result later… maybe much later.  The workouts are the actual process that gets you to that end result.   Training may even involve “light days” that you might consider to be a waste of time – if you only consider what you doing – today.

Random exposure to a variety of different movements at different intensities, most of which are done for time, i.e. as many reps as possible in a stipulated time period or a stipulated number of reps done as fast as possible is exercise, not Training.   Exercise is random.  Training requires that we plan what we’re going to do to get a specific result.

Problem is most people feel that doing exercise, any exercise is good enough – it’s certainly better than sitting on your ass.     And this is the reason most people struggle month after month, either not seeing results or never truly reaching their ultimate goal.

Group-x/bootcamps sell by advertising the random part: random is not boring, and not-boring gets people to come back.    For the Beginner, group-x/bootcamp mimics the effects of Training, because it’s harder than doing nothing.  So your body adapts and see results.   Then, your progress naturally stops because the more you workout, the stronger and fitter you become.  And the stronger and fitter you become, the more difficult it is to get more strong and more fit, because you’re no longer a Beginner.

This is called the Principle of Diminishing Returns… and this is precisely where group-x/bootcamp programs fall apart.

Once a Beginner has adapted beyond the ability of random exercises to cause further improvement, progress stalls – forever.    And increasing the intensity of the random stress doesn’t work either – that just gets you hurt because you haven’t truly gotten any stronger.    Further progress can ONLY happen with a true Training Program with progressions that cause your body to adapt in specific ways i.e) get leaner and stronger, which to be effective must be correctly designed and followed.

Beyond a certain point, random exercise may be fun, but it no longer makes your body stronger or better.  Bio-Science proves it…  but this fact doesn’t sell group-x or bootcamps very well so they won’t tell you.

This is precisely why the advanced athletes who win and place at events like the Cross-fit Games do not use Cross-fit/random programming to achieve advanced levels of the strength and conditioning necessary to perform at that level.  None of them.  This is widely known and freely admitted by everyone not involved with the company.   All athletes at advanced levels must Train intelligently to advance, and random exercises won’t do the job.

For example, more strength means more power, more endurance, better coordination, and better everything else.  This is why, all other things being equal, the stronger athlete/person is the better athlete/person.

You can get stronger for a while doing random exercise, but everyone who’s tried it knows that at some point you have to lift weights on a regular basis and you only get stronger by adding on more weight and performing the hard reps.

Random, non-progressive exercise is not good at making this happen – or even allowing it to happen.  A progressive Training program is the ONLY way to see continuing results and reach your end goal.