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  • Matt Ferrara BS C.S.C.S

Stop Working Out. Start Training.

Stop working out. Start training.


Training is based around achieving a specific goal with your efforts in the gym. The goal itself does not matter, as long as your intentions are clear and your efforts are driven in that direction. This is where the fun part comes in, as the limits to your options for goals are quite literally endless.


Some people may focus on bringing up a certain lift, while others might want to lower their body fat percentage or compete in a competition. Regardless, the goal is clear and the mindset behind it is also. You will do the things you NEED to do to achieve your goal, NOT just the things you want.


Training and working out both have key characteristics and distinctions.


Training is a long term approach, and the goal is to achieve a certain outcome. Working out is a short term approach, and the goal is to achieve a certain feeling.


Training is driven by statistical and science driven data collection and measurement, while working out is driven by objective emotions and short term desires.



Do the things you NEED to, the ones you WANT to


How long have you been spending time in the gym working towards your goals? Have you achieved them yet?


Chances are if you are reading this right now you haven’t, and that is okay. But if you have been working towards them for this long and haven’t gotten where you need to be, you need to understand that something has to change. That something is the entire approach to each session that you have in the gym.


From a psychological standpoint, having a sense of delayed gratification and playing the long game is what sets many humans apart. In fact, some psychologists argue that this may be the difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t.


You won’t really make it that far doing just the things you want to do. That statement not only rings true when it comes to physical fitness, but all other aspects of life as well.


If I only did the things I wanted to do every time I went to the gym, all I would do is power clean, front squat, some upper back work, obviously arm stuff, then go home.


Wait, now that I think about it I did do this from 2018 to the beginning of 2019. Ask me how much progress I made in that time?


The answer is very little, and as you would guess the only things that got better were the things I worked on, which is what I was already good at….


Long story short, focus on the things you want to instead of need to if you want to spin your wheels and not make any progress while still investing your precious time and effort. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not going to get you where you want to be anytime soon.



The Training Mindset


I was stuck in a training rut for a long time. It was hard to admit at first. After all, I get paid to make people stronger and I was struggling to do it for myself. Regardless of my profession, my lifts were stuck, my body composition was crap, and I was not enjoying my time in the gym anymore.


So what changed and got things moving again? I returned to training and stopped just working out every time I went to the gym. I hired a coached, followed a program, worked hard, and stayed consistent. Three months later I was breaking my all time personal records and improving in almost every way again.


To put this into perspective I’m a strength and conditioning coach who spends his entire waking day helping people with the training process and getting them out of the working out mindset.


Taking this into consideration I STILL made the mistake of falling into the “working out” trap. Why? It’s easy to do, and most people around you are doing it whether they realize it or not.


Instagram and social media in general are largely to blame for this. They show highlights of people’s journey, and people typically post “workouts” because they are more fun and get more views and likes.


Let’s see if you can identify the difference between training and working out simply by opening instagram. Swipe through your feed, and stop at the next video you see of someone in the gym. Most likely, they are doing either a cool looking exercise, a personal record, or something new and exciting. That’s working out, and I bet that post most likely has some pretty decent engagement.


Now scroll a little further and look if you see someone doing “boring stuff”. Goblet squats, meat and potatoes compound exercises, or just the assistance work that’s needed to help bring up weaknesses. Unless the person in the video is moving a metric $h!t ton of weight, shirtless, or both, I bet it doesn’t have much engagement.


Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but this is the unfortunate reality of social media. It gives a brief glimpse that may not, and usually isn’t, representative of the whole story. Exceptions are certainly not made to the realm of fitness and nutrition in regard to this phenomenon.



Training Checklist:


Here is your training checklist to look back upon periodically and make sure that you are staying true to your goals and on the right path during this journey.


1)You focus on the things you NEED to do.


Training focuses on the things you need, while working out focuses on the things you want. Granted, training can and should also include things you enjoy for long term compliance and because they are fun. However, the meat and potatoes of your sessions are built around the things you need to do to reach your goals.


2)You take a rational instead of emotional approach to fitness.


The world would be a much better place if people thought more with their rational mind than their emotional one. However, today I am here to talk strictly fitness so we will save that lecture for another time. What you really need to understand is that people who train know their will be good days and bad days, and stick to the plan regardless. They don’t pick what they are doing that day based on how they are feeling, and they don’t


3)You always have a plan when you go into the gym.


In fact, each session is planned out far in advance. You know what you will be doing this Friday, next Saturday, and so on. Depending on the level of your training you may even know what you will be doing next month. Regardless, you aren’t going to the gym to do what you feel like that day.


4)You are consistent.


When it comes to success in fitness, consistency trumps all. Nothing matters if you don’t do it properly and long enough for it to work. Even if you are working as hard as you can every time you come to the gym, coming one week out of the month isn’t going to get you where you want to be.


5)You are invested.


You are emotionally, physically, and financially invested in the training process. This is an important part of your life that brings you joy and a sense of accomplishment. Making your training a priority is part of the reason you have been able to become so consistent and successful with the process.


The results you will see once you switch from working out to training are truly mind blowing. There is no secret, but if there were it would be this. You have to train if you are serious about reaching the goals you have set for yourself. Working out isn’t going to cut it.


Do you train or do you just workout?


Hopefully the above information and checklist helped you determine the answer to that. Remember, it is completely okay to work out. If that is what you want and enjoy, then you will be better for it.


However, if you have serious goals that you want to achieve you need to start training. Not sure where to start? Contact me through email or in the contact form below. I look forward to getting you started on this life changing journey.

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