In Shape vs A Shape: Why do You Workout?

We’ve all heard some form of the following phrases:

“I need to get in shape”, “I’m out of shape”, “That person is in great shape”, “I used to be in great shape”

But I’ll bet you’ve never heard anyone refer to “a shape”…as in “I want to change my body shape”

This may sound like nothing more than a semantic error but I think a more important distinction needs to be made here.

I think that people assume being IN shape also means obtaining A shape. But this is not the case at all.

You and I could get IN shape to run a half marathon without actually changing the look or shape of our bodies. These are mutually exclusive items.


Each man is 'in shape' for his sport, but they each have a different body shape.

The type of training you do both cardio and weights as well as the specific dietary approach you take will determine what your body ends up looking like.

It is entirely possible to be IN shape without looking like it. It’s also possible to have a great shape without being IN shape.

You can have a great VO2 max, be able to run 10 km’s, lift heavy weights and play sports 4 days a week and do all of the things that would describe someone as being “in shape” while still being overweight without a desirable body shape.

The point is the health, cardiovascular and performance benefits of regular training can be realized by many people who see no change in their body composition. This is what I would call being ‘in shape without a good shape’

But I think this isn’t what people want. My guess is that people don’t do all of that work just to say they can run father or lift more weight or be healthier without also looking the part.

The key to also having the body shape to go along with the other benefits is a control of your calories that allows for a lower bodyfat percentage along with specific weight training that builds the muscles you want in the proportion you want to get the shape you want.

The next time you or anyone says anything about getting “in shape” stop and think to yourself if what you or they really mean is getting to a specific looking body shape.