Do You Exercise, Workout, or Train?
It's an important question, because the way you answered it reveals your internal "OS" — your mindset as it relates to physical activity.
Exercise Sucks The Big One…
If you answered "exercise," it's almost certain that your mindset is limiting your progress, as well as the enjoyment you should be experiencing as you make that progress. That's because "exercisers" view physical activity as a punishment— as a way of atoning for their (real or perceived) "sins."
Once an exerciser has hit "rock bottom," she immediately looks for salvation through an exercise and diet program, in much the same way that a reformed alcoholic seeks redemption though a 12-step program. Neither program is a whole lot of fun— it's strictly one day at a time as the addict admits her powerlessness over indolence.
When you think like this, you'll almost always end up as an aerobicizer on a diet, because that's the most unpleasant way to purge your soul with physical activity. If you aren't an "exerciser," try it sometime and you'll understand what I mean— tomorrow for example, limit your calories to about 1200 for the day and put in about an hour on the treadmill, and you'll know how it feels to be an exerciser.
When you're in that much pain, it's impossible to think you won't gain, but trust me, you won't. Don't get me wrong— you'll probably create a caloric deficit— for the day anyway. Trouble is, how many days can you live like this?
Working Out Is Better…
If you're a former exerciser, it's possible that you may have graduated to the "workout" stage, which means that you've discovered weights. Now you've got a better tool, but the problem is, you still think like an exerciser— you're using that tool for punishment instead of personal growth.
After discovering techniques like triple drop-sets, 21's, negatives, and forced reps, you quickly learned that weights can hurt even more than the treadmill. You're convinced you've found the fast-track to progress, and for a while anyway, the weights deliver a payoff, despite your immature mindset.
Training Is Best…
Reformed alcoholics in 12-step programs consider themselves alcoholics until their dying day. Reformed exercisers on the other hand, are proud to call themselves athletes from the moment they first make the conversion. Athletes don't exercise, they train. Athletes don't diet, they eat.
Exercisers are reactive— they're slaves to the scale and the treadmill. Athletes, on the other hand, are proactive. It sucks to be an exerciser, but it's a blast being an athlete.
You might be wondering at this point, how I define "athlete" in the context of this article. By "athlete" I mean someone who trains with a purpose above and beyond simple aesthetics.
Athletes seek improved physical functionality, whether it's to improve at a particular sport, or to get stronger, faster, more mobile, or to have better stamina. These are measurable, tangible markers of physical performance. The training required to improve these qualities also improves physical appearance of course, but performance always trumps pain in the athlete's mind.
Making The Switch
If you're an exerciser with an increasing disdain for treadmills, bathroom scales, and a long list of foods you "shouldn't" eat, take solace in the fact that there's a better way. A great way to get started is to pick up a copy of my popular e-book The Unnatural Athlete at my website www.CharlesStaley.com.
About Charles Staley
"One of the signs of a great teacher is the ability to make the subject matter seem simple. Charles Staley is one of these rare teachers. After listening and talking to him, you suddenly achieve a new awareness of training. You go to the gym and, suddenly, everything makes sense, and you wonder why you haven't been doing it his way since day one." – Muscle Media 2000 magazine August, 1999
His colleagues call him an iconoclast, a visionary, a rule-breaker. His clients call him "The Secret Weapon" for his ability to see what other coaches miss. Charles calls himself a "geek" who struggled in Phys Ed throughout school. Whatever you call him, Charles' methods are ahead of their time and quickly produce serious results. His counter-intuitive approach and self-effacing demeanor have lead to appearances on NBC's The TODAY Show and The CBS Early Show.
Click here to visit Charles' site and grab your 5 FREE videos that will show you how to literally FORCE your body to build muscle, lose fat and gain strength with "Escalating Density Training," Charles' revolutionary, time-saving approach to lifting that focuses on performance NOT pain.