The Difference Between Training & Working Out

I have been thinking a lot recently about the differences between “training” and “working out” and how those differences relate to “value” and “compliance.” I still can’t figure out the most succinct method of getting these thoughts on paper, but I was motivated a few weeks ago after I read the Skill of Strength newsletter and figured I would throw my (PEX) hat in the ring. With that said, here goes…

Training means you have a specific goal. To achieve that goal, you have a plan and you are tracking your progress against past benchmarks. A specific goal can only be accomplished if your plan is consistent and repeatable, otherwise there is no way of knowing if the skill(s) you are training are increasing in proficiency. You also won’t make appropriate neuromuscular adaptations (read: you’ll be sore and/or tired all of the time because your body isn’t adapting to the workouts you are doing).

Working out means that there really isn’t a specific goal in mind, rather the focus is on increasing general qualities like physical preparedness, overall cardiovascular health, and basic work capacity. A plan isn’t necessary, and the workouts, by their nature, do not have to be repeatable.

One approach isn’t necessarily better than the other — at least not right now while we are all living in Coronaville (not to be confused with Margaritaville…a place we all hope to visit soon.)


I do think training, especially under the guidance and supervision of a coach, brings more value, greater compliance, and more positive outcomes, when compared to working out on your own. (This has all been magnified for me recently, considering our inboxes and Instagram feeds are currently inundated with social media coaches, free workout programs, and free classes.)

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Instagram workouts and free online classes are cool. They’re novel, sexy, and easily accessible (economically, and otherwise). And, as we’ve talked about previously, the current environment might elicit a desire for mindless workouts and a good sweat.

When something is free, though, you will inherently place less value on it. When there is no personal connection, you’re likely to feel like there’s a lack of accountability, and you’re less apt to be compliant and consistent. In other words, if you don’t have any skin in the game, you’re not going to get the most out of your time.

There’s also the very real possibility that I am wrong. I have been wrong once or twice before. Either way, any type of physical exertion is better than none at all. So get your ass back on that Peloton and start peddling! Just kidding.

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