Don’t work out; train instead!

Don’t work out; train instead!

by Ashley Tan 17 Feb 2020

“Working out” and “training” – these two terms seem to be synonymous with each other. After all, they both entail some form of physical activity, right? Well, it turns out that there are actually significant differences between the two. In a sense, it all boils down to the mindset that you embody during each of these activities. 


“Working out” tends to be associated with more negative feelings such as pain and obligation; for instance, you may not feel like “working out”, but you drag yourself to the gym anyway because you’d rather not feel guilty for skipping your “workout” session. Some signs which indicate that you might simply be working out mindlessly and mechanically include a lack of structure to your sessions, without a specific goal in mind, or feeling like your “workout” session is another tedious item to check off your to-do list.


“Training”, on the other hand, requires a specific end goal that doesn’t fall into the typical generic categories of “getting a beach body” or “looking long and lean”. Instead, goals could include aiming to hit a certain number of lifts, or endeavouring to accomplish five sets of push-ups in one gym session. Unlike “working out”, “training” is a lot more structured, thereby rendering it more strategic and effective. Of course, it is possible to train purely for aesthetic reasons, but the goals need to be measurable (e.g. a 5% reduction in body fat).


Additionally, “working out” consists of more short-term and immediate accomplishments, while “training” is necessary for long-term performance goals. With carefully-planned schedules, “training” ensures that your strength and endurance levels continue to increase in the process. So, if you’re looking to pursue more protracted goals, then “training” would be more appropriate since it requires you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, rather than feeling satiated instantaneously.


So why should you train instead of just “work out”? For one, making a goal-oriented approach the norm not only makes sense, but creates a better carryover into your daily life. Instead of just going through the motions for the sake of doing so, having a purpose in mind makes the process much more fulfilling. It also inculcates puritan-like attitude when it comes to getting things done: keep what works and discard what doesn’t.


Even in fitness, there are several nuances to the types of activities that we engage in. It is easy for us to fall into the trap of chucking “working out” and “training” under the same category of physical activity, even though there exist small differences that we should bear in mind, especially when we’re trying to figure out what we truly want to achieve. Fitness really isn’t all that mindless after all – you’ve got to train your brain to help yourself accomplish more!