Working Out vs. Training, What's the difference? | The Fit Facility

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So What’s The Difference?

Working out, training. Training, working out. Two terms that are seemingly synonymous. However, differentiating between the two will actually give you the knowledge to never get caught spinning your fitness wheels.


Working out is simply exercising without specific goals, a template, or program.

Working out is single serving, exercise sessions.

There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with working out.

In fact, if you had two options: working out, or sitting on a bean bag chair with orange glazed Cheeto (delicious) fingers watching season 3 of Breaking Bad (awesome).

Clearly go workout.

Anything is better than just sitting. However, once you get to the gym, walking in and asking yourself “hmmm what am I going to do today?” only works for so long before all progress comes to an screeching (skrr skrr) halt.

In addition, let’s say you’ve gone as far as working specific muscle groups on specific days (still not training, but better than being clueless).

Again, doing 3x12 with 25lbs. dumbbells will only yield progress for so long. Why?


You’ve gotten stronger, what was hard, now isn’t.

In addition, your body is smart; it isn’t going to keep putting forth the same amount of effort as before, it becomes efficient. Unfortunately for you, that means that you’re no longer reaping the same #GAINZ as before.

Just because you’re in a gym; sweaty and tired, are in and of themselves, meaningless markers of progress and fitness.

Telltale signs of “working out”

NO CLEAR DIRECTION: There’s no specific goal (or the goal is very vague) that you’re working to achieve.

“Get tone” is not a goal.

Having a vague goal such as “toning up” is as useful as going on vacation to the “beach”. Which beach? How are you getting there? How long is it going to take to get there? Which route will you take? Where will you stay? etc.

Here’s a great example of simply “going to the beach”.

By simply heading south, we’ll eventually get to a beach. Two totally different beaches, one taking double the amount of time, but beaches none the less.

The Fit Facility to Destin | Differences between training and workingout.png
The Fit Facility to South Beach | Differences between training and workingout.png

By setting specific and targeting goals, you’re giving yourself a destination to achieve. From there, it’s only a matter of finding your program (or in this case, your map) to help you reach those goals.

NOT ENOUGH VARIATION: How many times have you walked into the gym, done the same exact ROUTINE as last week, or even a workout from earlier in the week, used the same weight, took the same amount of rest, in the same order, etc. Whether it’s because you attend a gym that is very busy, and there’s not enough weight/machines to go around, so you just stick to some default fall back; or it’s because it’s all you know. Either way, it isn’t enough.

As mentioned before, working out without progressions and PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD will ultimately lead to adaptions which are less than favorable. You’ll recruit less muscle fibers, and in many cases, get weaker.

TOO MUCH VARIATION: On the other end of the spectrum, working out with too many exercises ultimately leads to you becoming proficient in none. In order to see and feel results, you need to adhere to a program that progressively overloads the muscle, which in turn requires it to adapt. You don’t need to do every exercise under the sun. However, you do need to pick a few compound lifts, and frequent them enough (never more than twice in less than 48 hours).

Just remember, random exercises lead to random results.

To drive the point home, working out satisfies the IMMEDIATE need to get tired and sweaty TODAY. Working out is physical exercise without: a process, goals, progressions/regressions, specific adaptions, etc.

YOU TRAIN TO EAT: This one may hurt some feelings but here it is. You’re working out simply so you can eat (more than likely, foods/drinks with empty calories).

Plain and simple, you can’t out train a poor diet.

It’s as simple as that. You’ll always burn more calories via Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), than you will ANY workout.

Meaning, you’ll burn more calories just simply living, than you will while you workout. Knowing this, if your goals is weight loss, a diet is simply the most effective means to do so. Workouts will help, obviously, but it won’t account for as many calories burned as your BMR.

Now knowing this fact, it’s in your best interest to actually hold as much LEAN MUSCLE MASS as possible. Muscle is a metabolic tissue. Meaning, it requires constant feeding to maintain. Therefore, the more muscle you have, the more you weigh, the high your BMR, the more calories it requires your body to operate daily. Thus giving you more freedom in your diet.

Plain and simply, anything other than resistance training with progressive overload doesn’t contribute to building lean muscle, thus increasing your BMR.

Workouts can be effective calorie burners, however you’ll still have to actually build lean muscle tissue, and those “workouts” won’t do it for you.


Whether you’re a new mother trying to get your body composition back to what it was before the birth of Little Johnny, or you’re a washed up D3 All Star, the moment you identify a specific goal(s), and apply a process to your session, that’s the difference between training vs. working out.

Training is a process, (SAID).

Working out, isn’t.

Telltale signs of a “training program”

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD: Your training sessions consist of a way to increase: volume, frequency, intensity, and/or time under tension. This helps ensure your long term training success.

YOUR SESSIONS ARE STRUCTURED: Not every training session needs to be soul crushing, and each training session fits into the program to compliment the next (frequently targeting the same energy system over and over will eventually lead to burnout). This organization process is known as PERIODIZATION.

PROGRESSIONS/REGRESSIONS: The program has room for progressing/regressing exercises. For instance, if you can only do air squats, then the program helps you progress to box goblet squats, then goblet squats, then maybe to a back squat with a barbell.

You should always have exercises that you can supplement incase you either lack the strength to do the prescribed exercises, or you have an injury that doesn’t allow you to safely complete said exercise.

The Take Away

It is VERY easy to design a HARD “workout”.

Literally anyone can do it (it’s very low hanging fruit).

If you know the names of a few exercises, assign arbitrary rep ranges for said exercises then put a time limit on it.

BOOM, there you go!


However, does that help you get closer to your goals? Probably not.

It takes a true professional to design and implement a training protocol that helps athletes achieve specific goals.

If you’re looking to make consistent progress and long term success, you’ll need to stop working out and start training. Look for a program that utilizes progressive overload to ensure you continue to progress and have long term success!

At The Fit Facility, we utilize progressive overload to achieve lean muscle mass gains, an effective strength and conditioning program, to take all the guess work out of it for you!

If you would like to schedule a free intro session click here!

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