Let’s start by explaining the difference. Working out is a daily task that some people do. They may attend a fitness class or have a routine that they do but it’s only about getting in there that day and accomplishing some kind of work. It’s the notion of “getting in shape” or “getting my sweat on”.
The flip side is training. When a person trains they set specific, concrete goals and everything they do is designed to get them to those goals. It’s not just about moving it’s about moving with a purpose.
At first glance they may seem similar. “So what if I just want to get my sweat on? I’m still doing work.” Yes, you are and compared to the weekend warrior a person working out 3-5 times a week is getting a lot more benefit from it. However, fitness/wellness is a lifelong pursuit that means having consistency is vital to getting fit, staying fit and seeing the continued health benefits of that fitness. This is where training is superior to working out.
I’ve been in the fitness game since 1996 and I can tell you first hand that working out doesn’t last. Working out makes people feel better in the moment because they feel accomplished and they feel like they are improving their health….and in the short term they have done just that.
There are definite positive changes that occur from working out…at least at first. You will improve your cardiorespiratory system, probably cut some weight, increase muscle mass, start sleeping better. All of these are excellent.
Here’s where it starts to get wonky. If you go to the same fitness class week in and week out or do the same exercise routine for weeks and months and neither the class nor the routine are progressive, meaning they continue to change to push you harder and harder as your fitness improves or challenge you with learning new skills to add to your routine then you will plateau. When that happens the benefits of exercise will start to lessen, not disappear, it’s still helping to keep you healthy, but as you stay in this static hold of physical conditioning and no new skill learning you will lose motivation which means the likelihood of you stopping your work out sessions increases. If you stop you lose those benefits.
This is why so many people jump from one gym to another, to spin class, then boot camp class, then yoga, then pump and so on…they have no concrete goals so they don’t keep track of progress so they can’t stay motivated.
This is where the training mindset carries us through. If you have specific fitness goals, for example, be able to run a 5K or a marathon, be able to go up and down 10 flights of steps without breaking or getting exhausted, carry your dog food from the store to your car or pick up a really heavy barbell your motivation stays high because you haven’t hit your goal yet and quitting on a goal feels shitty!
On the other hand reaching a goal feels awesome! In fact it’s an infectious feeling that causes you to set new goals so yo can reach them, feel awesome, then do it again. This is how you keep your fitness level high for your entire life and create real health.
As you age your goals can change. Maybe you were a distance runner in your youth but all the miles have taken a toll on your knees so you change your goal to being able to swim 100 laps unbroken (no stopping) in an olympic size pool. Maybe that goal leads you to open ocean swimming goals….the point is as you evolve and change from setting and reaching goals you are empowered to set and reach new goals and your age may influence those goals but it never diminishes them.
Write down your goals and see if they are specific enough to drive your exercise program. Do you keep track of your performance stats. Do you know how fast you run a mile, a 5K? Do you know how much weight you can correctly lift? Do you know if you can do a push up and if you can how many you can do before needing to rest?
The goals can be large or small…but they have to be specific and you need to keep track of them. Find the fitness goals you truly want to accomplish and suddenly motivation will rise up out of you.
Now get out there and create your fitness!!
Good luck and thanks for reading,