Everyone in the gym is doing one of two things: Working out or training. Most people will read this and think “aren’t those the same thing?” The difference between the two is intent and programming. Before I go any further, let me admit something. For most of my time in the gym, I have spent more time working out than training. Like a lot of people I know, I got most of my “expert fitness advice” from the pages of Muscle and Fitness as well as Flex magazine when I first started lifting. If Arnold Schwarzenegger does 100 sets of arms, I should too, right? I used to go to the gym and hit it hard until I couldn’t move for the next week. I remember needing 7 full days to recover from Leg Day, just in time to do it all over again!
We all know that living an active lifestyle is one of the keys to being healthy, I’m definitely not going to contest that. However, many people get carried away in the gym like I clearly did. Most people coming in don’t have clearly defined goals or a clear strategy to reach those goals. They are:
- Working out just to get tired and sore.
- Doing the things they enjoy but skipping the things they need because they’re difficult.
- Coming to the gym without a clear plan and simply doing what they feel like that day.
- Falling into a rut due to the lack of structure. Or worse, falling off completely.
Look, I’ve had plenty of rough days and come to the gym to let off some steam. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Whenever I’m visiting someone I haven’t seen in awhile, I love going to the gym and blasting our arms until they fall off. However, this is the exception and not the rule.
Training, however is a different approach entirely. The goals are clearly defined and the tactics are clearly outlined. This will ensure that there is purpose in the activities and increasing the likelihood of consistency past the initial fun phase where everything is new and exciting. When you train, you are:
- Working towards a specific goal/s with carefully selected exercises that will get you where you want to go.
- Doing things you enjoy AND things you need to do. In fact, most training programs focus on what you need way more than what you simply like to do.
- Coming to the gym with a clear plan every single time you go. No guesswork or decision making have to occur.
- Progressing to your goals and beyond due to smart programming that doesn’t burn you out.
Second of course to safety, my number one rule for myself is to have a reason for every single exercise/stretch/movement in my programs. If I can’t explain why it’s there (or that reason has changed/no longer applies), Thanos snaps his fingers and it turns to dust. Stop just throwing weights around and get on a training program! There are plenty of options out there, you have no excuse.
To your health and success,
-Demarco Crum, CPT