Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Working Out vs. Training (via the Industrial Strength Show podcast)

This post was provoked by a great segment on the latest Industrial Strength show podcast where someone asked, via Joe DeFranco's guest co-host Ashley DeFranco, the difference between working out and training.

(And as an aside, I highly recommend that podcast. It's entertaining, it's down-to-earth, and it's smart and full of valuable information explained well. Joe knows his stuff inside and out, and he explains it well.)


34:30 – Joe explains the difference between “Working Out” vs. “Training”


First, please listen to that and then come back to this.

My thoughts on this?

In some ways, it's semantics - "working out" versus "training."

But there are real differences in approach that people in the industry have labeled in this way.

Exercising just for how it feels today, without regard for the future

vs.

Exercising for the benefit it gives long-term for your goals.

It's hard as a lay person to tell the difference, sometimes. We've all been drilled with so many messages about hard work:

"No Pain, No Gain."

"You have to work harder than the other guy."

"Torching your abs."

"Go heavy or go home."

"Feel the burn."

"Crushing" a workout.

"Your workout is my warmup."

"I'm going to have to work off this cheesecake tomorrow."

We've been told that if you don't sweat, don't feel sore, and don't puke in a bucket during or after the workout it wasn't really hard. And that hard work is good work. "Hard" is just another word for "good" or "effective."

It's not, though. Working out hard has its place. But it's not synonymous with doing it right, or doing what's to your long-term benefit. Ideally you want to work just hard enough for the maximum benefit. You want to put in your best effort each time. But each session doesn't need to be all you were capable of at that time. Your body adapts, but it grows and adapts when you give it time to recover. If you don't, it will break down and you will end up giving it recovery time anyway - as you nurse an injury or suffer through illness.

As a trainer, it's easy to get professionally bothered by this. You really do have to keep a client feeling like they're working hard. You will lose clients to people who just smash a client over and over. You'll get trainees who come in and say, "I lifted yesterday hard, but I still have a little bit left today" and not think - is this is best way to make progress? And if you just smash clients day after day, they will break down. They might be happy but won't reach their goals.

As a trainee, it's easy to feel this way. If a workout wasn't hard, was it beneficial? Did you miss a chance to make some progress? Did you really try if you didn't try your hardest? Was that a waste of time and/or money to just get in a light cardio session or leave some reps in the tank or lift a lighter weight than was possible? If I fail to meet my goals, is it because I didn't work hard enough?

You need to trust the process, which can be hard.

But listen to Joe DeFranco's discussion of it. It's a process. You map it out, and you follow it. It's not about how hard you work but that you work through each step properly. It's a process that leads you somewhere.

And that's why you hear all of this "working out" versus "training."

And it's why I "train" my clients, instead of just having them "work out." I'll make sure they feel like they put in effort, and I'll nudge them towards measuring progress instead of measuring effort. It's the responsibility of trainers to do so. And astrainees we need to learn to recognize what's working, not just what feels like it should be.

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