“Working Out” Vs. Training

Train (verb) – to prepare someone or be prepared for a job, activity, or sport by learning skills or by mental or physical exercise.

“Working Out” Vs. Training

170 lbs. and 12% body fat.

185 lbs. and sub 10% body fat.

That’s the difference between the two pictures on the left.

That’s also the difference between walking into a gym to “work out,” and walking into a gym to train.

When I first got serious about health and fitness, and even the first year or two after becoming a personal trainer, I made the same mistake that I watch so many others make on a daily basis: I went to the gym without a plan, without a concrete goal I had to achieve.

I viewed exercise as merely a way to burn calories, and I tried to “mix it up” as often as possible.

I was more concerned with getting a “pump” than actually getting stronger. 

While I was healthy and in better shape than the average person, I just couldn’t get the last 5-10 pounds off, and my body wasn’t changing at all.

No matter how hard or often I “worked out,” it seemed like I just kept getting nowhere fast.

Understand: never in my life have I desired to look like a bodybuilder.

While I admire their hard work and dedication, there aesthetics just never seemed appealing to me.

The physiques I admired were those of my favorite athletes: NFL running backs, NBA shooting guards, MLB shortstops, MMA fighters, boxers, Olympic sprinters – these are some of the most fit, shredded, jacked dudes on the planet; these are the guys that I wanted to look like.

“Bo Knows” a thing or two about training.

That’s when it suddenly hit me: these guy’s don’t work out to burn calories or achieve a “pump”, they train for performance.  

They don’t wander into a gym clueless, just improvising as they go.

They’re not worried about how long they exercise for.

These guys are concerned with one thing and one thing alone: Getting Better. 

They walk into the weight room with a plan.

They know exactly how many sets they are doing and how much weight they are going to use; they know what numbers they hit the last session, and they go into the next with the mindset to beat those numbers.

I decided I was going to start doing the same.

It was time to start focusing on getting stronger and faster.

It was time to stop dieting and exercising and time to start eating and training.

I set goals for myself; and I was damned sure going to hit them.

I started bringing a training log with me so that I could record all of my sets, repetitions, and the weights I used.

I stopped isolating each muscle group like the magazines told me to and started performing compound movements with heavy ass weight.

Squats, deadlifts, standing military presses, bench presses, pull-ups, and dumbbell rows made up the majority of my training.

I stopped worrying about keeping my heart rate up while lifting and, instead, I timed all of my rest periods so that I would have enough time to recover for the next set.

I stopped jogging and started going to the track for sprints and agility work.

I stopped counting calories and if my body told me I was hungry, I ate. 

I stopped “working out” and started training.

405 lb. deadlift.

That’s when it all changed.

Even though I was eating more than ever, I started dropping body fat; even though my weight on the scale was going up, I started seeing definition in my abs and finally got that six pack I always wanted.

This is what happens when you focus on building muscle and performing better: your body changes.

The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn at rest; the more calories you burn at rest, the more you can eat without putting on fat; the more you eat, the more energy you have to work out train and build more muscle; the more muscle mass you have, the lower your body fat percentage is—it’s a vicious cycle.

I’ll wrap this post up by asking all of you out there to please stop “working out.”

Stop stressing about what the scale says, or about how many calories you burn in a workout.

Stop drifting about the weight room aimlessly and just “figuring it out” as you go.

Stop using the same weight you’ve used for the last 3 years for the same sets and reps.

Start focusing on strength and performance.

Start setting fitness oriented goals for yourself like squatting and deadlifting more weight; running a faster 100m sprint; or increasing your vertical jump.

Start taking a training log with you to the gym and writing your workouts down so that you know exactly what you did the last time and what you have to surpass the next.

Always look to improve—I cannot stress this enough.

There’s a saying that goes, “To get somewhere you’ve never been before, you have to do something you’ve never done before.”

This same philosophy applies to training and to your body.

Work towards new goals and setting PR’s for yourself and watch how fast your body adapts and changes.

Stop “working out;” start TRAINING. 


Author: J.J.Valdivia

I have worked in the health and fitness industry for a decade. Through my personal work with clients, and my writing, I strive to help others become more well-rounded human beings, so that they may thrive in all areas of their lives.

16 thoughts on ““Working Out” Vs. Training”

  1. Amen! I admit to what you just laid out. This is motivating and inspiring to get smart about training. Great post, thanks!

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