I’m not talking specifically about world-class athletes, although they definitely apply to this article. I’m talking about the person working out right beside you in the gym. And THAT’S the big difference. You’re “working out” while they’re “training.” And, yes, there’s a difference.



The “athlete” beside you could be working towards the same goal(s) as you, such as losing a few unwanted pounds and sculpting muscles to look nice. The massive difference is in their “thinking-to-action” process. Both of you begin with the same thought such as “I want to lose body fat.” Take one step further and you both are taking “action” by doing something physical to make your thought come to fruition. However, they train for those goals while you workout for those goals. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where things begin to change. Let’s break it down….


Working out is….

  • Casually doing the workout of the day (i.e. going through the motions)
  • Trying to feel the “burn”
  • Doing something that you enjoy (without a thought to whether it’s actually working)
  • Trying to do the least amount of work in order to see results
  • A chore


Training is….

  • Mastering your exercises (i.e. “owning” the movement)
  • Seeking improvements such as lifting a heavier weight, performing an extra rep
  • Doing something that you know will achieve your results, whether you like it or not
  • Working toward the optimal training load (not too much, not too little)
  • Routine


See the difference? The attitude in which you view your fitness goals (workout vs. training) has tremendous impact on its effectiveness. This attitude doesn’t stop when you leave the gym. This attitude transfers over to your diet.



People who train are consciously aware of what they’re putting in their body and question everything. “Will this slow down my progress?” “Will this help me get better?” People who perform workouts don’t ask these questions but instead make statements (i.e. Excuses). Statements such as “I worked out today so that balances out the calories in this cheesecake” or “I earned this cheat meal.” To use the last statement as an example, “athletes” earn their cheat meals when they’ve made progress. You didn’t earn anything. You justified your cheat meal because you “worked out”.


Ask any fitness professional whose been around the block and they’ll tell you the number 1 determining factor in whether a client achieves their goals or not is mental, not physical. Your ability to focus and restructure your view of your goals translates to everything else: recording your routines, keeping a food journal, having a plan when you go out to eat to stay on track, and so on.


There are numerous factors that are affected by your mental attitude. If you were willing to change from someone who works out to someone who trains I would start with something simple: record your workouts! It’s immediate. It’s measurable. It’s right there. Micro changes seen daily will reinforce your decision-making process when it comes to food, sleep, and so on. Do this for 1 month. Then, use a food journal. Again, do this for 1 month. Slowly but surely you’ll become an “athlete” and not someone who “works out”.