Picture from elitefts.com.
1. Exercise is like learning a language.
Being able to speak a language is one thing. Understanding the language and how it works is another. You may know the language or the words in that language. But using them in the right context and using them at the appropriate times is what makes you proficient in the language.
See exercise as learning a language. You may learn what it takes to perform some basic exercise techniques. But learning when to use the right exercises to achieve the right results is critical to attaining your training goals. Doesn't make sense for you to do alot of running-based drills when you are a swimmer right? Or similarly, using a powerlifter's program to help improve your running cadence or endurance.
Also, in a language, there are many ways to express the same thought. Most of the time, flowery language is used by many to say something as simple as ABC. Like language, many trainers like to use "complex" methods or techniques to train their clients to give an impression that they have this repertoire of exercises or they know something that someone doesnt. The problem with that is it is not effective and does not achieve the desired result.
You want strong legs, you squat. You want a strong back, you deadlift. You want big pecs and guns to impress the girls, you do your bench press and bicep curls. Stick to the basics and keep it as simple as you can to achieve the best results from your training.
2. Exercise is like learning mathematics.
How do you want to do well in mathematics? Three things you do: practice, practice and practice! You know the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, alegbra etc. However, putting it into the various context of the maths questions you face is something which many can't grab a hold of. They overcomplicate things and focus more on the context of the question than focusing on the mathematical concepts behind the question. It's the same as exercise. If you keep your program consistent and stick to the basic exercises, you are going to be so proficient in doing the basic exercises that all you need to do in your program is manipulate the training principle of progressive overload for constant gains or adaptations. If you want to get better in the squat, you squat. If you want to get better in the press, you press. If you want to get better in the snatch or clean and jerk, you snatch or clean and jerk. Consistency of technique before overloading will not only help you get better with the exercise but also pile on the adaptations tremendously. As simple as counting 1-2-3.
3. Exercise is a science.
You see many concepts of training, exercises etc that are being brought into the market. But how many of them have gone through proper testing for their effectiveness? Take compression garments for example. Marketed to be awesome products which increase your exercise ability because of their many functions. How many of these functions have been properly tested? Not saying that they do not work, but the research on such products are anecdotal at the moment. Similarly, in exercise, try to base most of your training on research. Things that have been found to work and be effective in providing the adaptations you are looking for. If there is no research on it, find out if many others have tried using the same method of training and how it has benefitted them. If majority of the people asked if it has worked, there must be something that is beneficial by using it in your training. More importantly, remember that something that works for someone else might not work on yourself. So trial and error and read up more about what you intend to use in your training than just blindly follow the current fitness trends. Some trends out there are just mockery of traditional training concepts.
Just my two cents' worth on what exercise is to me and how I look at it. Try asking yourself what your perspective on exercise is. You will be surprised.
Stay Strong and Keep on Training,
The Training Geek.