Training vs. Workout

Today I wanted to talk about the difference between the words "training" and "workout."  While the difference between the two may seem trivial to you, these phrases could not be any different to the strength and conditioning nerd that resides deep inside my soul.  

My inner nerd looks like pretty much like this guy....except without the awesome bow tie.

My inner nerd looks like pretty much like this guy....except without the awesome bow tie.

But, before I delve into the larger topic of distinguishing between the two words, it's important to talk about goals.  Yes, those pesky little things that are the reasons you go to the gym in the first place.  Below are some of the more common goals that many of my clients have, which I might add are all terrific and perfectly reasonable:

  • Living longer and healthier
  • Losing fat
  • Getting stronger
  • Putting on muscle mass
  • Staying injury free for a particular sport

As you can see, these goals (and their ensuing pathways) can be very different.  If your goal is to get stronger, the time you spend under a load will far exceed any time you see on a treadmill (if you ever do that at all).  If you're training for a marathon, then we're going to do a ton of work on your mobility as well as "undoing" all the damage that comes with racking up miles.

So what does this have to do with the words "training" and "working out?"  Simply put, training is what you do to get better....and working out, or exercising, is done simply to punish yourself.  Anyone, and I do mean anyone, can design a program that will crush you to the point where you vomit, while also making you sore for days.  Doing 30 pull ups, running 800 meters, then doing back squats to failure (all in under 7 minutes) is probably not going to make you better....unless, that is, your whole reason to go to the gym is to be able to do that exact workout in under 7 minutes.

Instead, it takes a very talented individual to write and institute a program that will make someone better, with very little soreness or additional pain.  Want to increase your overhead press, front squat, or deadlift?  Strictly follow the 5/3/1 program, or send me a note asking for some tips (the answer will definitely not include running).

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we go "soft" when it comes to training.  As someone that's deadlifted over 400 pounds and can press almost 200 pounds over my head while standing, I think it's clear that I've shed that label. But, long gone is the "no pain, no gain" mentality.  Instead of going to the gym and doing something to blow off some steam and punishing your body, work on how you can make yourself better in order to reach your goal.

And, well, if you insist on going to the gym solely to blow off some steam, then that's OK too.  After all, we all have only so much willpower.