What’s the difference and which approach is right for your goals?

When you finish a workout, what do you ask yourself?

Do you wonder if the workout will make you sore, or if you sweat enough?

Or do you ask if the workout you just had was tailored to progressing your goals?

Reflecting on these questions, we explore the difference between training and working out.  While both terms constitute the idea of getting sweaty, moving around, lifting things, or running endless laps, the differences between working out and training may be the defining factors between hitting your goals and not. The moment you decide on a specific goal, whether it be weight loss, fat burning, muscle gain, strength building, hypertrophy, or a mixture of the bunch, it is important to understand that any of those require specific training methods and nutrition to achieve. That is where the difference between training and doing random workouts takes the most crucial role.  Let’s talk about it. Here are a few things that will tell you whether you are in a training program, or whether you’re just “working out.” 


According to Dictionary, training is defined as “undertaking a course of exercise and diet in order to reach or maintain a high level of physical fitness.” The keywords in this definition are “course”, “reach”, and “maintain.” Consider these the pillars of the path to your goals. Progression to where you desire to be requires a consistent course of action. Building muscle requires a program of strength training and hypertrophy in which you do similar workouts each week in order to add loads or intensity, tracking your progress as you go. If your goal is to build cardiovascular endurance so that you can better enjoy long bike rides or runs, then a program that trains the aerobic system of your body is optimal for you. Heavy loads of weight lifting along with a track of progress is ideal for anyone looking to build strength. It is important to know and understand your fitness and the type of training you need in order to reach and maintain it. 

Working Out

There is certainly merit to the idea that “something is better than nothing.” In terms of general fitness, moving around and exercising for at least 20-30 minutes per day can be sufficient enough to maintain a general shape. What is not acceptable is the idea that you can meet long-term goals that are both progressive and sustainable, simply by doing random workouts every day. We’ve learned about myths in fitness such as the idea that you need to be sore to feel like you worked out or that each workout should fill you with enough sweat to fill a lake. If you’re simply looking to sweat, feel free to step outside on a summer day in North Hollywood. There is no progression to random workouts, and a “good workout” does not mean that you’ve taken any steps towards your goal to get bigger, leaner, or stronger. In order to achieve fitness in the present and sustain it for the future, switch the randomness for a structured program and stick 

to it.


So far, we’ve touched upon physical performance, but a consistent nutrition plan plays perhaps the biggest role. The same way you want to avoid jumping from one training program to another, you want to avoid moving from diet to diet. Celebrities and the media do not make this easy as they are constantly hyping the shiny new toy in nutrition. With a variety of diets out there such as Keto, Paleo, Low Carb, Zero Fat, etc., it becomes difficult for a novice gym-goer to understand what exactly they have to do. Just like physical training, the money is in consistency. It isn’t about hopping over to the next best thing. It is about sticking consistently to one thing, remaining patient with the process, and making small minor changes as you progress, rather than cutting an entire plan altogether. 

What does this all mean for your fitness?

Don’t get me wrong. A good training program does not mean you have to immediately dial up a rigorous weight training program that has you lifting 4 times your body weight in four weeks. Popular home workouts such as Insanity and P90x are really efficient options for people without access to a gym but are looking for a consistent program that they can build on week to week. For those who lack the time to work out five times per week, there is no fault in going three times per week and working a consistent three-day program that aligns with your goals. The options are out there for an infinite variety of workouts, leaving you with plenty of choices, so long as you aren’t jumping from one to the other.

In Conclusion

Train for what you want. If your goal is to win a marathon, you wouldn’t train weightlifting. If your goal is to build 20 pounds of muscle, you may not want to spend hours on end running. Whatever you do, remember the key words. Follow a “course” that will help you “reach” and “sustain” your fitness.

– Coach Jonathan

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As a special thank you for checking out our content, if you mention this article when you come for a workout at Virtuo, we’ll give you 10% off any training package you sign up for!