Why You Need To Stop Working Out and Start Training

Many people don’t get the results they desire because they are “working out” instead of training….don’t be one of them!

Most people think the two terms “working out” and “training” are synonymous, but they are actually very different.  So what’s the difference between the two…

Working out is doing random exercises in the gym without a specific purpose (i.e. what most people do).

Training is a deliberately planned fitness program targeted towards achieving a specific goal (with short- and long-term goals along the way).  

It’s hard for most people to understand that simply exercising does not equate to training and that training is more than just exercising/working out.

So, how do you know if you’re simply working out and potentially wasting time & energy at the gym:

5 Signs You Are Just “Working Out”

1. You decide what you are going to do at the gym when you get there

This is what most people in a commercial gym are doing – exercising without much thought – and this type of random approach will, without a doubt, not produce the results you are looking for.  It will take longer to achieve them or, more likely, not even get you there.  You need to have a plan in place that is directed towards your specific goals (see the #2).  Otherwise, you’re just going to do what you feel like doing and not what you should be doing.

2. No specific goal(s)

Here is another common mistake people make – not having a specific goal (i.e. get stronger, lose 25 lbs, run faster, throw harder, etc).  If you’re working out just for the sake of working out, it’s like getting in your car and just aimlessly driving around without a destination.  There isn’t necessarily anything bad or wrong about this approach, but if you have specific goals in mind, you need more than just “working out.”

3. Same shit, different day

If your workouts are basically the same thing every time (or the same 2 or 3 day rotation), then you are just “working out.”  It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be different exercises every time you go to the gym, but repeatedly doing the same ones over and over again isn’t productive as there is no progression or adjustment.

A training program incorporates different variations and cycles of exercises with progressive overload to maximize results.  Typically, every 4-6 weeks there should be an adjustment in your training.  This allows the body to adapt by getting stronger, faster, etc.

5. Not recording your workouts

If you are not writing down what you did in the gym, then you have no way of knowing how you are progressing – or how you should be progressing.  As the saying goes, “that which gets measured, gets managed.”  Recording your workouts is vital to understanding how to advance/progress your training program.

6. Concerned about quantity and not quality

If your main concern is how many reps or how much weight you did, then you’re not training.  Those who work out this way will gauge their results solely on how much the felt the burn/pump, sweated, were sore afterwards, etc.  This type of mentality/focus will result in burnout or, worse, injury.

When you are training, your set/rep scheme are usually laid out for you already and you most definitely don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.  Training programs are efficient and don’t waste time with unnecessary exercises.  And success is based on your progression towards your goals.

What a Training Program Should Consist of:

  • Designed to maximize the challenge to your body while also respecting it so you don’t get injured
  • Clear long-term goals with short-term goals along the way
    • training sessions will have specific goals relative to the overall program goal
    • different “phases” within the overall program
  • Exercises/activities, loads, frequency, sets/reps are all specifically chosen
    • you will doing what you need to do, not what you want to do
    • there is a specific reason behind all the exercises and volume chosen
  • Emphasizes quality of movement and good technique

Benefits of a Training Program:

  • Better results
  • Clear goals
  • Efficient use of your time and energy
  • Maximizes your body’s potential
  • Avoid burnout
  • Decrease risk for injury

Remember, just about all pro athletes, regardless of their sport, have strength & conditioning coaches…..for a reason!

I hope this article has helped you become aware of the difference between training and working out and can help get you going in the right direction