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Exercise + TRAINING Basics

What is physical activity and exercise?

To move around is a fundamental part of human existence. Humans move to gather and prepare food, protect themselves, and reproduce. This type of functional movement is called physical activity. Meanwhile, exercise is a planned act of moving a specific way and for a given duration with or resistance. If this is performed regularly in order to achieve a desired outcome is called exercise training.


Why do we -- or should we exercise or “workout”?

To the public, the terms exercise and workout are synonymous. Regular exercise can provide numerous benefits. Depending upon the type of exercise, these benefits can include:


• increased strength and/or endurance

• improved cardiovascular health

• easier weight management

• improved body composition

• stronger bones

• relaxation and social interaction

• improved self-image• improved sleep.


What is exercise training?

When we exercise regularly the muscles that are involved can adapt to be more efficient in performing the challenging task they are facing. This is a “training effect” or “adaptation” that is visually obvious for weight trainers as the targeted muscles enlarge to provide more strength and power. Their exercises will involve near maximal or maximal intensity for very short durations. Meanwhile, in regular exercise, consisting of lower intensity tasks performed for longer durations, muscle will adapt to become more inclined to aerobic energy metabolism as well as performing longer. Meanwhile, performing exercises that incorporate both strength and endurance can lead to improvements in both but with considerations.


What are the most important concepts in exercise training?

The most important aspects of training are the intensity and duration of the exercise. The relationship between these factors is what largely determines the type and degree adaptation. Genetic predisposition also will influence the degree of adaptation as well as the inclination toward a certain type of training. Said differently some people are genetically inclined to have more aerobic exercise potential while others are skewed more for strength and power sports. This leads to the old saying that the athlete doesn’t necessarily pick their sport as much as the sport picks them.


What does exercise intensity mean?

Exercise intensity refers to the level of exertion. For instance, lifting a weight that results in muscular fatigue after just a few repetitions or “reps” of an exercise is pretty high with respect to intensity. So too would be an all-out running or cycling sprint where fatigue occurs in a minute or so. Basically, the higher the intensity, the shorter the possible duration of the exercise. To reach such a high level of intensity, exercise often includes resistance against an otherwise simple movement of a muscle group or related groups. Examples of resistance training include weight training or running on an incline (e.g., running on hills or a graded treadmill) or cycling (e.g., cycling uphill or an exercise bike with variable resistance). It is the level of the resistance that dictates the necessary force needed (intensity) to perform. Higher intensity and muscular fatigue will be associated with muscle adaptations that will allow for greater strength and power. In this case, muscles should enlarge or “hypertrophy” which is obvious in weight lifters as well as in the legs of sprinters.


What is the difference between work, strength and power?

Work relates the amount of force necessary to move something, like our body or a weight, a certain distance—hence the term “workout.” Strength then refers to the amount of force that can produced by someone to perform work. Further still, power is concerned with how long it took to perform the work. The faster the work can be performed the more powerful the effort. So mathematically:


Work = Force × Distance



Power = Work x Time


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What does exercise duration mean? 

Duration refers to how long an exercise is performed continuously. Activities like running and cycling are performed at a low or moderate intensity and tend to last for a half to one hour or longer. Sustained exercise for longer durations is often called endurance training. It is also referred to as cardiovascular training as adaptations can include the development of a more powerful heart and more blood vessels in our heart and skeletal muscle. Weight training reps and sets are shorter duration while high intensity interval training bouts can last a few minutes followed by active rest (moving much slower) and repeated several times.


How does exercise change our body?

In the “training intensity line” diagram, it is the intensity level that will be the primary determinant of the nature of adaptation. This means that although some sports are associated with a certain type of adaptation, it is not an absolute. For instance, weight training can be more aerobic and cardiovascular if the weights (resistance) are not heavy enough and the number of reps is very high. Running and biking are often associated with more aerobic and cardiovascular adaptations, but it is easy for runners or cyclists to train for greater strength and power by including more resistance in their training.

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