Working out vs. Training

I used to workout and I got pretty good results. I had a nice lean body and was more or less able to eat whatever I wanted. My friends would say that I looked good and I didn’t have any fear taking off my shirt.

Now I train and I get great results. My body is a work in progress. I can’t eat what I like anymore and I don’t listen to people when they comment of how I look. I take my shirt off to change and my girlfriend gets more out of the way I look than I do.

What are the differences between working out and training?

People who workout are trying to improve their appearance or some characteristic of their body. It could be to lose a few pounds, to lower cholesterol or normalize their blood pressure. In most cases there is an end point and once the individual reaches it, they can enter their maintenance phase and don’t need to workout as much.

People who train are primarily trying to improve their performance. They are pursuing something, a number or reps, a weight, a time, but they are after something that is slightly more objective than “looking good”.

Most people who workout do so fairly consistently. They do more or less the same thing every week e.g. cycling class on Monday and Wednesday, upper body weights on Tuesday, lower body weights on Thursday and whole body on Saturday. They do more or less the same exercises during these workouts and rarely change things up because they are happy to be improving.

People who train cycle through their exercises and change their programs when things stop working. They are not content with simply improving, they need to be improving as fast as their potential allows them.

People who workout do so primarily with moderate intensity. After their workouts they are glowing and look like they are full of energy. They’ll be able to laugh and joke right after and will probably have a shower before going home.

People who train look close to death after they finish. They will have given everything they have to their training and will likely be gasping for air, soaked with sweat and generally feel worse than they did when they started. They’ll be consuming a protein shake while trying to recoup enough energy to change and go home. Their energy level will be low for a while and they are not going to be joking or laughing.

People who workout feel less strongly about what they are doing. More often than not it is about feeling good in the moment and having fun. While working out may be an aspect of their identify, it does not define who they are. They workout based on their schedules. They’ll tell you that they workout and will often try to convince others to do the same. They may even invite others to workout with them.

People who train ARE their training. Their training takes over many areas of their life and is often the focal point of everything they do – training sessions determine when they eat, sleep, work and socialize. They’ll make you wait until after they have finished training and won’t try to convince you to train with them – if you aren’t already doing it you aren’t anyone they would want to train with.

People who workout get a lot of satisfaction from working out. Good enough is good enough. They won’t talk about achieving their potential because they feel they already are.

People who train tend to have fleeting moments of satisfaction. They may experience a high or bliss right after competition or achieving one of their goals, but soon thereafter they find themselves raising the bar and starting towards an even higher goal. They will never be happy with their performance and this is why they continue to train.