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Training vs working out

How do you approach workouts? Have you ever thought about it? Many athletes, and the general population in general, usually don’t think these type of thoughts – rather going at every workout in the same way – max effort, full intensity, gauging their success on the amount of sweat or how tired or sore they become. There’s nothing wrong with this, but there is a clear distinction between this “working out” vs “training”. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about the difference between the two and how to shift your mindset from one or the other depending on your goals!

Most athletes generally start CrossFit or other athletic training with one goal – to burn calories and become more fit. Generally, this mindset is completely healthy and productive – and hundreds of thousands of people can testify that doing any type of movement outside their day to day life results in achieving body changes that exceed all their expectations. However, there is a subset of athletes who are seeking to improve at their sport – whether it’s CrossFit, Running, Triathlons, Badminton, whatever it may be! – and for those athletes, they must approach their work in a different way. These athletes must elevate from “Working Out” to “Training.” Here are the differences:

· Training is purposeful – each session has a well-known stimulus and result

· Training incorporates more than the gym – it involves nutrition, recovery, outside stressors, and significantly more

· Training has objectives – whether it is increasing a specific strength component, a skill, etc

· Training is led by coaching – it can be your own coaching or a third party, but it is focused by review, understanding, and improvement

There are many other aspects to training, but this embodies the major focus and difference between training and working out. Now how do you shift your focus?

· Understand the stimulus of programmed workouts and respect it. If the workout is designed for tempo, pacing, etc then recognize that and follow it – even if you feel like you’re not sweating or working hard enough

· Do you have a goal and does that goal have an end date? Do you follow an entire cycle without going off program, ready to peak at the appropriate time?

· Are you focusing on the things outside the gym? Are you appropriately resting & recovering between sessions, fueling yourself for your workout performance, and not over-exerting specific muscle groups through your training? Remember – most of your performance gains come through the work done outside the gym – not inside the gym.

· Take the guidance of your coach, or objectively review yourself. Did you approach a strength workout that was meant to be light technique work with heavier, poor form or did you work on the minute details of the lift?

Remember – there is nothing wrong with simply working out, sweating a lot, feeling sore, and having fun – but if you want to progress as an athlete it’s important to step back and evaluate. Training should be fun, progressive, but structured, and not always will that result in you feeling like you burnt a lot of calories – but calories are not the end-all for having a healthy life. Take a look at goals – and if you want any help, reach out to us in person or at and we can help you find the balance you might seek.

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