“Training” vs “Workouts”: Which should you do?

I remember when I first got into working out. I would head to the gym and do this and a bit of that. I would try workouts I read on the internet such as the “Tom Hardy Workout: How to train like a warrior” or the Henry Cavil Workout: How to turn into the man of steel”. Then the next week I would i would attempt the next article I had read from what ever expert I saw preaching on the internet. I got a good sweat up and felt good that I had got a good workout in but there was only one problem. I didn’t feel or see like I was making any progress. I wasn’t feeling any stronger, I didn’t perform any better on the sporting field and definitely didn’t feel any different when I looked in the mirror…. What was going on? Why wasn’t I achieving the results I wanted when I felt like I was putting in the work?


Looking back on it now it feels so obvious I feel silly sharing this but I couldn’t see it back then. You see I was busy doing working outs where instead I should of been training. Hang on a sec aren’t “workouts” and “training” the same thing? So what’s the difference?

Workouts are physical activity performed for the effect it produces today- right now. Each workout is performed for the purpose of producing a stress that satisfies the immediate needs of the exerciser for example burning some calories, getting hot, sweat and out of breath, pumping the biceps or stretching- basically workouts is physical activity done for it’s own sake. It could involve doing the exact same thing every time you do it or some random circuit combination that accomplishes the task of making you feel like you want to feel today.


There is nothing wrong with “workouts”- if your goal is to simply burn some calories, relieve some stress and release some good endorphins. If that’s what your focus is and you find going to the gym a burden, you’d probably have more fun shooting some hoops, surfing some waves or going to a dance class. All these options will help achieve a similar result.


Now, you might think you workout out a lot but perhaps you don’t seem to make as much progress for the effort you put in. I know that I fell into that bucket 100%


So what is training then?
Training is about having a goal in mind and creating a plan to achieve said goal (eg losing weight, muscle toning, preparing for an charity run etc). Training is about incremental, specific and objective improvement.


Training in its most basic form is doing something in a progressive and periodised way- it;s structured and planned out. Completing workouts is random and chaotic. Training is not. Training has a clear plan building from one session to the next.


But Should we all be training?
It comes down to your goals and intension. I’m not saying that training is better then workouts. Completing workouts definitely has a huge benefit for maintaining your health and the positive feelings you get from it.


However if you want to improve body composition, get stronger, increase your energy or build more lean muscle you need to be training. You can achieve these goals through a planned progressive stress dose on your body to create the adaptations you desire. Just to be clear going to the gym and throwing weights around without a plan or structured training program isn’t training. It’s just another workout. In training the set’s, reps and training load are planned from week to week to elicit a certain desired response in the body.


This is why you see a lot of people frustrated at the gym without any desired results and ultimately give up. What’s your intension? What’s your goal? What are your reasons for doing it? Only you can answer these questions and decide if “workouts” or “training” is for you.


If you would like some suggestions or guidance in designing an individualised training plan please comment below or reach out.

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