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Janet Durant


March 25, 2024

Why Working out Doesn’t Equate to Training: And Why It Matters

What’s the difference between training versus working out? 

I had a conversation with a friend recently.

She asked, “What do you do to make your arms look like that?”

My arms have a defined musculature from years of CrossFit training. 

I told her some of the exercises I do every week knowing full well it was SO MUCH more than that.

Not surprisingly, she responded, “I do exercises like that too, so why don’t my arms look like yours?”

There’s not a short response to this question. I realized it was going to require a lot more information than our short conversation was going to allow. I decided to break down the difference between working out and training in a detailed, easy-to-read blog. 

So, what differentiates training from working out?

It comes down to PURPOSE… 

Working out, as a general rule, is getting your body moving, sweating, and burning calories.
But WHY are you working out?

Training is purposeful. 

Training is goal oriented.

Training is all about intention.

Why are you training? 

To build a kickass body?
To compete in a bodybuilding or CrossFit competition?
To live a healthier lifestyle? 

Here’s what I’ve noticed about people who work out vs those who train. 

The person who “works out” may not really have a direction. They might come in for an hour a day, for 5 days a week, and then stop coming to the gym for the rest of the month. The person who “works out” doesn’t know why they are paying for a gym membership because they don’t have specific goals. They come in and half-heartedly go through the motions. They may not really push that hard and leave without stretching. These are people who always have some nagging injury because they aren’t doing anything proactive to keep their body parts healthy. These are people who can’t seem to lose weight or build muscle and they don’t know why. People who “work out” may not be able to stay consistent. They drop their membership because they aren’t seeing results, or they can’t commit to being at the gym X days a week. 

Even though “working out” is what you are doing, it’s not enough to get you where you are going. 

Or keep you going. 

Instead, change your words from "working out" to "training"! If you understand how these phrases differ, it's going to change your mindset around fitness. 

Those who TRAIN are on a mission. They are working towards an endeavor, goal, or purpose. They are coming into the gym with intention. They are following a program to a T. And they know WHY they are there. These are the athletes who are making gains, losing weight, winning competitions, and KICKING ASS in life! 

So, what are some ways you can train instead of simply work out? 

  1. Change your words.
  2. Commit to a goal.
  3. Be intentional. 
  4. Follow a program. 

Change your Words

Start telling people you “train”. When you are asking your friends about coming into the gym ask them what time they are “training” at. Words are powerful. Start creating different verbiage to start reframing your mind around what you are doing. It’s simple and easy. And it’s one step to get you closer to whatever goal you’ve set for yourself. Speaking of… 

Commit to a Goal

If you don’t have a goal, you don’t have a purpose. It’s really hard to commit to anything, especially when the going gets tough. And especially if you don’t have a REASON or PURPOSE for why you are training. Be specific about what you want, write it down, remind yourself why you are going to the gym every day, and stick to it! One reason people give up on their resolutions so early is because they don’t commit to what they want. Start by reframing the words you're using to "training" instead of "working out". Then be very specific about what you want and commit to it wholeheartedly. 

Be Intentional  

If you’re one of those people who go into the gym and dink around on your phone. Or you walk around aimlessly without really knowing what to do. Or perhaps you go through the motions in the workout… You are going to have one of two things happen. Either you're not going to see results or you’re going to feel like you are wasting your time, and quite frankly, you are. Time is our most valuable asset so it’s going to wear on you down the road. When you enter the gym, go in with a plan, have tunnel vision, and be intentional about the task at hand. You will feel better about yourself for being intentional as well. 

Follow a Program

The hardest thing about being intentional is not knowing what to do when you get to the gym. I used to write my workouts, but I would NEVER enter the gym until my workout was already typed up in a Google doc or written out in my workout journal. The few times when that didn’t happen, I would struggle to be productive. Oftentimes I’d write up something that was not beneficial to my goals. Or worse, I’d make a workout so ridiculously hard that I could barely function the following 3-days. And then I’d lose 3 days of training too. 


Whether you are writing your own programming or following someone else’s program. Follow it consistently and set a baseline for how long you plan to follow it. There’s no way you’re going to see progress by jumping around from one program to the next. Or by doing whatever you feel like doing in the gym that day. 

When you understand that TRAINING is not simply working out, it changes your entire frame of mind. 

Unlike working out, training is built on purpose, passion, and intent. 

Training changes your WHY when it comes to going to the gym.

Training also changes the intensity, the desire, and the level of commitment. 

So instead of going to the gym to work out. Start rephrasing your statement, and tell friends that you are going to the gym to TRAIN. Figure out why you are training; what goals drive your purpose to be in the gym? Be intentional about your training. Go in with a plan, execute, and leave feeling like you fulfilled your purpose that day. Lastly, follow a program so you can create the body you are trying to attain or the performance you want. If you train with these methods, it’s going to change your life. Not only in the gym but outside of the fitness world as well. Your friends and family will ask how you did it and you will have a blueprint to show them. 

If you want help with following any of these protocols to achieve your fitness goals, our coaches can help! 

Tap on our program bar in the top right corner and hop into one of our programs designed to help you achieve your aspirations! Whether you are trying to lose weight, build muscle, gain gymnastics skills, PR your Olympic lifts, or simply want to train to be fit and healthy. We have the tools to help you! 

Stop working out and start TRAINING!

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