Despite the terms being somewhat synonymous, there’s a big difference between someone going to the gym for a workout, and someone going there to train.


The biggest difference between training and working out is that one is structured and part of a bigger plan, and the other tends to be random (or at most loosely structured).


Essentially, workouts are singular bouts of exercise.


Whereas training is the productive sequencing of workouts towards a specific goal.


Whilst doing something is mostly better than nothing, without an overarching structure or theme; random workouts will lead you to random results.


A workout can be anything that you decide to do in the gym, at home, or wherever.


A workout is singular and doesn’t take into consideration the scope of the next, or the previous workout.


Typically random in nature, workouts with no overarching direction can leave you spinning on a hamster wheel as you try to achieve your goals.


A good example of a workout is showing up to an exercise class and completing whatever the instructor has planned that day.

Do Random Workouts Have Their Place?

Often, for the general population, doing something is better than nothing. Workouts do have their place, especially for those who aren’t looking for structure or wanting to achieve specific goals.


Workouts provide opportunity for variation and keeping things fresh, which may help maintain interest for some people.


You can probably still achieve a wide variety of goals with random workouts, but without accounting for the variables that a training programme provides, these results will often be random.


It’s like getting from point A to B, in the dark, without guidance. You may well get there, but you won’t know how.


Or worse, you may not get to point B and be unable to identify where you went wrong.


For general goals like weight loss, random workouts can still provide you the necessary energy expenditure in order to achieve your goals (when paired with the right nutrition plan).


However, for performance related goals your workouts will need to be more specific, and training will most certainly be the better option for you.


Training gives direction to your workouts, making each individual session, and component of those sessions, compliment the others in the programme.


Training takes into consideration what you actually want to achieve, the individual trying to achieve it, the best way to achieve it and the time it takes to achieve it.


This is why personal training is an effective tool as you will be following a specific training programme.


Training will often implement a framework by which detailed workouts are delivered and take into consideration key concepts of successful programming such as:


Specificity – Is your training specific to your goal?


Frequency – Are you training at the right frequency the enables the best adherence, stimulus and opportunity for recovery?


Progressive overload – Is the programme progressively challenging each week?


Recovery – Are you getting adequate recovery to allow for adaptations?


Individualisation – Does it take into consideration your individual needs?


For performance related goals especially, training is the better way to go.


Even for general goals such as weight loss, a training programme will give you a solid plan to follow and allow you gather data to adjust and find out what works as you move along.


Now depending on your goals and how important training is to you (i.e., are you a competitive athlete), training is typically periodised into Microcycles, mesocycles and macrocycles.


However, these go beyond the scope of this article and deserve their own spotlight in a separate article.


For the general population, I would suggest a progressive programme of 6-8 weeks with a planned deload at the end, before tweaking, progressing and moving forward into another 6-8 weeks.

Signs Your Working Out and Not Training

1) You show up to the gym with no real plan.


2) You don’t track your workouts.


3) You don’t know why you’re doing an exercise.


4) You never adjust any training variables.


5) You’re simply not making progress.


6) You’re just copying other people in the gym


7) You only attend classes


8) You do the same workout each time

How To Move From Working Out to Training

If your goal is to get a sweat on and just keep your body moving, then there’s nothing wrong with working out.


If, however, you do have a specific goal that you’re serious about, then training is the way forward for you.


Now, you can find a tonne of training programmes online for free that will give you more structure than your random workouts will.


However, developing a training programme that’s specific for you often takes a trained eye and help from a professional.


If this sounds like you, then why not book in for a free consultation today and let me help you achieve your goals quicker.

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Sam is a Personal Trainer, Online Coach and Fitness Educator with background in achieving results for a variety of clients. Sam now specialises in Pain Free Performance, helping people across the world to achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

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