What is the difference between working out and training?

What is the difference between 'training' and 'working out'? Is there a difference or are the words interchangeable?

The difference between calling your trail hike a 'workout' or 'training' session, in my opinion, relates to your intent, commitment, and long-term physical goals. In this day and age with more and more fitness fads training people like elite athletes, and the physical literacy of our youth is declining to tragic levels, along with with the high rate of injuries suffered by individuals who are ill prepared for their physically demanding jobs. I believe the difference between working out and training is an important distinction for coaches, athletes and YOU to understand. I have been 'working out' and 'training' for nearly 35 years. I have been prescribing 'workouts' and 'training sessions' for thousands of amateur and elite athletes for almost 20 of those 35 years. I feel the difference between training and working out lies within the intent of the physical challenge that you are performing.

A 'workout' is an independent physical challenge that is separate from a bigger more idealistic physical objective. It is a moment in time where the mental and physical benefit of performing the workout is immediate and short-lived. Conversely, a 'training session' contributes to a larger more deliberate physical goal and is understood to be a calculated step within the physical and mental journey to achieve a level of physical readiness for a particular physical demand.

What is the big deal you ask? Why should you care if you call your morning run, lift or yoga session a 'work out' or a 'training session'? I believe you should care as it reflects your state of mind about how you view that physical session was contributing to you achieving a physical ability and well-being that is sustainable and supportive of your lifestyle, sporting goals, or career demands.

Training is a commitment and by definition an understanding that you are involved in a process. A process that takes time and requires focus and responsibility by all involved. A coach should appreciate the difference between a workout and a training session. So that they prescribe what is appropriate for that specific time for that specific person. A workout and training sessions can be part of a training plan that addresses the general and specific needs of the individual. The training plan should emphasize the journey with a clear progression that considers a person's movement competency and physical capacity. Training sessions often focus on specific issues. Within a week a person may do three training sessions all to work on their fitness, but one session focuses on the bodyweight strength for running, one focuses on running economy, and one focuses on challenging the person's aerobic fitness. A training session can as physically demanding as a workout. The difference in my mind is the training session is unique to the person in a general or specific way.

A workout is a physical challenge not unique to an individual, rather a physical test that implies uniformity in physical ability and capacity. A workout can be specific to a person's ability by chance, but by definition, a workout does not consider the person doing the workout, it is a physical challenge for any individual to accept.

So what is the point? The point is to demystify the notion that training is a right afforded only to 'elite' athletes. The point is that everyone should be training. Which means everyone is engaging in a training plan that is designed to get them ready for the physical activity they desire. Their training sessions are, therefore, unique to their ability and capacity and in part and as a whole contribute to their long-term health and well-being.

There is not a quick fix to being healthy and fit. To be healthy and fit is a mindset and those that embrace that mindset understand that achieving a greater degree of physical ability requires time and commitment, and TRAINING. Working out within a training plan is an awesome way to confirm a person's athleticism. At Athlete Nation we believe each workout should be viewed as a challenge designed to confirm a person's fitness and inform an individual's training plan.

Regardless whether you agree or disagree with the point of view discussed above, I hope you appreciate the sentiment. Don't think the odd workout or two will get you in shape or make you more physically capable. Working out should be viewed as part of training. Some workouts performed each week aren't training unless they cater for your specific physical abilities. At Athlete Nation we call that training. Training is a mindset, and it is a journey that has amazing benefits. At Athlete Nation we use workouts to confirm how well a person has been training. We understand that nothing worth achieving is made easily or quickly. Our coaches are in it for the long run. We hope you are too.