Workout Vs. Training—There’s A Difference, Here’s The One To Focus On To Reach Your Goals

Workout Vs. Training—There’s A Difference, Here’s The One To Focus On To Reach Your Goals


1 March 2019


The words “workout” and “training” are often used interchangeably and while they both entail a form of physical activity, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing, according to Fitness Transformation Specialist and Co-founder of The Playground Fitness, CJ Lee. Here’s his explanation why.

The word “workout” is definitely a more commonly used term when it comes to an individual engaging in any sort of fitness activity—to immediately fulfill outcomes such as calorie burn, stress relief, muscle pump, working up a sweat or simply just a routine to maintain great health and fitness level. Now you must be wondering why some people chose to use the word “training” instead? It could be more than just personal language preference. In fact, there could be a few other reasons to it. Why do some people manage to get a great physique and strength without seeming to do as much as the rest?

Though these two terms seem synonymous, let’s explore the differences between “working out” and “training”. Are there any distinctions in terms of the outcome one can achieve? The answer is a big YES.

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3 Main Differences Between Working Out & Training 

1. Fun vs. Science

It is essential to make fitness fun and approachable for most people to get into it, so therefore a workout is often much more appealing than training. Think about being able to get your hands on 15 different tools exploring 15 different exercises through a circuit session, maybe even in sync with some music. That’s ultimately going to be very stimulating.

Whereas in a training session, you might just end up with less than 5 exercises per hour of session at times! Why is that? Variety no longer takes the front seat as we understand that consistent focus on a set of moves is crucial to elicit desired growth and outcomes such as muscular or true strength gain. A training programme is typically backed with knowledge from theories derived from decades of research in sport and exercise science.

2. Randomised vs. Structured

A workout programme can be planned by most that have the basic knowledge and experience in equipment usage and exercise vocabulary. But when it comes to training, a well-crafted programme is set based on variables such as the amount of sets, repetitions, rest, exercise selection, sequence, load (weight) and tempo—all of which are determined by an individual’s fitness history, condition, training experience and ultimate goal.

Those who train only do exercises that will work towards their goal. For example, if true strength gain is the goal, it would make more sense to do a weighted squat instead of endless squat jumps. Or if the objective is to improve lower body mobility, running or jumping jacks will be irrelevant.

3. Maintenance vs. Results

Yes, some might have experienced changes in body shape and performance through working out, which is often very common for newcomers to fitness. There is a term called the “newbie gain” which sums it up with its literal meaning. But the human body is extremely efficient at adapting to any stimulus or stress with its coping mechanisms, so soon enough, the biggest enemy of all time, “the plateau”, will surface.

At the end of the day if you are striving for constant progress and more specific results e.g. overall weight loss, building 3kg of lean muscles, getting your very first pull up, holding a handstand or improving acceleration in your sport, then training should be your go to plan. Just like a result oriented athlete—they train for a competition, they don’t workout for it.

So how can you start training instead of carrying on with working out? While there are plenty of resources around such as a trusted online platforms, the best advice will always be investing in a credible coach to guide you. Performing endless workouts week after week hoping to achieve noticeable changes can not only leave you with frustration, but also harm your body as accumulated amounts of stress from excessive workouts can lead to injuries, muscle loss and hormonal imbalance.

It’s also important to remember it’s not always going to be one or the other. Once you are satisfied with the results from your training, you can always go back to your favourite group workouts with your sweat buddies. Just keep in mind that maintenance work should be carried out every now and then to ensure you don’t lose all your hard work! Now you have the ability to identify what serves you best in your fitness journey, take the necessary action to make it a good one.

See you on the other side!