Some people use those two terms interchangeably but in my mind they are very different and depending upon your goals understanding the difference can be key to determine how successful you are at reaching your goals.
Many people take part in regular and physically demanding sessions some of those sessions can leave them totally drained and exhausted and they can be great fun. I call this working out and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these sessions if your goal is to work hard, sweat buckets and have fun. This is what gym classes, some personal trainer sessions and club sessions are aimed at. If you don’t have any specific goals then these sessions are probably right for you.
Working out is anything that makes you sweaty and tired but not necessarily better because it lacks consistency, direction and specificity.
If on the other hand you have specific athletic goals like breaking 3 hours or 4 hours for a marathon, lowering your Ironman PB, reaching specific mobility or strength targets then workingout isn’t going to help you reach those goals. In that case you need to be training towards your goals; you need to be following a customised training plan that takes you from your current level of fitness to your goals in the safest, quickest and most sustainable manner.
Training is when you have a progressive plan with measurable goals and continual challenges.
It can certainly help to enlist the help of an experienced and knowledgeable coach to create and follow that customised training plan, but if you are experienced and knowledgeable you can do the same thing for yourself. So how will you know if you create a training plan or just a written down workout schedule? A key test is to ask yourself the following 2 questions before, during and after every workout:
- Does this session have a defined purpose that moves me closer to my goals according to my Training Plan
- Did I complete the session as intended
If you can answer yes to those 2 questions then you are probably training rather than workingout. It’s important to realise that this doesn’t mean every session needs to be a killer session; what it means is that every session should have a purpose and that purpose should be getting you closer to your goals; within a well structured training plan there is definitely a place for easier sessions that fit those criteria.
So take some time to figure out whether you should be Training or WorkingOut and then apply the test above to see if you may need to change your approach.