Training Vs. Working Out
Are you training or working out? What’s the difference?
The main separation between training and working out comes down to one thing, INTENTION.
If you come into the gym looking to move, sweat, have fun, and feel good, you’re working out! Now let’s be clear on this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply working out. 99% of people who step into the gym are there to workout for various reasons such as health benefits and to build functional strength to live a full, active life outside of the gym and that is a damn beautiful thing and is primarily why we do what we do! But what if you have specific goals that you are looking to attain from going to the gym? Goals like getting a stronger back squat, compete in a local competition, or advance to the CrossFit Games Quarterfinals and beyond. This is where you’ll need to consider what you’re doing in your training sessions and if those actions are moving you closer to your goals.
Let’s get into some key points on what separates training from working out……
CHASE THE STIMULUS
First thing, your workouts should have an intended stimulus. This means they should be structured so they target a specific energy pathway or strength adaptations. It’s important that you understand the stimulus of your training pieces. If you have a good program and a good coach, these things will be made clear to you before your session begins. If your coach has no idea what the stimulus is or the stimulus is “crush your soul” then you may want to do some shopping.
Stimulus can be achieved through proper scaling, time domains, and loading. If you have an aerobic workout and you know the RX weights are a little heavy for you, you should consider decreasing the weight so you can stay in that aerobic zone. If you are looking to get stronger and the working percentages of a strength piece feels light to you, increase the weight. This is how you chase the stimulus and ensure you are always getting the right dosage and adaptations from your training! This concept leads directly into the next topic…..
CHECK THE EGO AT THE DOOR
Ego is a killer of goals! Ego is the thing that tells you to start a workout too fast or to use a weight that’s too much for you because the person next to you is loading it on to their bar. It’s important to understand that people in the gym with you likely have very different goals than you do. When you’re training, it’s important to solely focus on what is going to make you better on any given day and not what others around you are doing. Does this mean you shouldn’t be competitive and let other people motivate you to push harder? Absolutely not! Those things are invaluable, but you need to be aware of the intention of your training.
Letting ego get in the way can detract from the stimulus of your workout and often lead to disappointment. Checking the ego at the door also means having grace with yourself. If a workout doesn’t go your way, good, you’ve learned something and can take that with you into your next training session!
LOOK FOR THE SMALL WINS
Not every workout is going to be a home run. In fact, if you are training with intention and pushing your limits, you will often have workouts that don’t go your way. In these moments it is important to highlight things that went well or things you’re proud of regardless of how small they may be. Let’s say wall ball shots are a weakness for you. There is a training piece that has a set of 20 wall balls each round. You set a goal for yourself to do all your wall balls unbroken and you accomplish that goal but find that you weren’t one of the firsts to finish. It would be easy to beat yourself up for not getting the fastest time, but the focus needs to be on accomplishing the goal you set out for and achieving something that you’ve never done before. In training, that’s a win. You got better that day.
Sometimes the small win for the day is the fact that you showed up and did the work. There is almost always something positive that can be taken from a training session. Focusing on small wins is crucial for maintaining consistency and joy in your training because training is rarely glamorous and there are no daily awards. Give yourself the small wins each day, and one day they will accumulate to a major win, achieving your goals.
DIRECT YOUR ENERGY AND INTENSITY
You can refer the phrase “first things first” when looking at this topic. You only have so much mental and physical energy on any given day. In training, it’s important that you direct this energy to the things that are going to make you better. This means prioritizing weaknesses over strengths most often. If you’re an aerobic beast who never gets tired in their workouts but needs to improve on strength numbers, its probably not in your best interest to go HAM on a metcon and then go back squat with whatever you have left. You’ll want to put your energy and intensity into the strength work and then hit your metcon after. Vice versa for those who are strong as fuck but can’t run a mile without stopping a few times. In this case the energy and intensity needs to be on building aerobic capacity, and strength is secondary.
Sometimes this means sacrificing your performance in a specific training piece so you can direct your intensity to areas that are specific to your goals. This definitely does not mean other training pieces should be brushed off as not important, it just means they should be rearranged on the priority list. This ties back into checking the ego at the door.
These are just a few of the main things that separates training from simply working out. Doing these things requires varying degrees of discipline but accomplishing anything worthwhile in life does. If you enjoy showing up to a CrossFit class and throwing down without thinking about how you’re doing it and why you’re doing, you’re working out. That’s all good! You’re looking out for your health and you’re having fun and I’m here for it. If you want to train and achieve measurable goals, you’ve got to be intentional and following these guidelines is a great place to start!