Working Out vs Training

Ever hear athletes complain how they took a few days off, or were sick for a few days, or went away on a vacation and didn’t get many workouts in and… how they lost fitness?

Ever hear athletes complain how they cannot let up, cannot rest or recover fully, because it feels like they are – literally – losing fitness with every passing idle moment?

This is the difference between working out and training.

To work out is to exercise muscle. Problem with exercising muscle, is that muscle is stupid.  It does not learn, it does not retain anything. But muscle is excellent at one thing: and that is responding to stress.  Stress muscle with strength workouts, and muscle responds almost immediately. They grow in size, increasing their physiological activity to be better at meeting the new level of demand. But muscle is a one trick pony… that’s all it does.  It only responds to stress, so when you stop stressing it, it remodels itself to the level of stress that it is experiencing.  Take a few days off, end up in bed because you are sick, and without any stimulation, muscle starts to remodel itself weaker as quickly as it remodeled itself stronger.

As the saying goes… “easy come… easy go”

To train is to exercise the brain. Training and working out are as different as muscle tissue is to brain tissue. Whereas working out is entirely focused on stressing muscle to cause it to respond in a manner which builds tissue, that approach does not work at all when you want to exercise the brain. Exercising the brain is best called: learning.

You can take time to learn to do anything… you can learn a language, you can learn to play the piano, you can learn to code, and end up writing a software program, and so on.  The great thing about learning is that you never un-learn anything.  If you stop learning the piano, yes you will get rusty, but with a bit of practice the skill level you had will return quickly.

As the saying goes… “its like learning to ride a bike… you will never forget”

Amateurs work out.

Pros train.

Thats the difference my friends, thats the entire difference. Pros do not have more hours than you in their day, they do not have access to ‘better’ anything, be it equipment, training facilities, or gear.  In fact, some of the top athletes in the world have come out of countries which have no training facilities or at best, broken down training facilities. The best of the best athletes often did not have access to sport nutrition products, sometimes not even a comprehensive healthy diet until they made their mark in sport and earned their first podium and paycheque.

So where’s the disconnect?

The disconnect is that Westerners spend more time watching media in all its forms to “learn” what it means to train, to exercise, to be healthy. Westerners form their narratives of what it means to be on trend by following influencers (who typically are not Olympians or World Champs in any sport), following headlines of magazines or sport websites, or what their tribe of friends defines health and well-being. Talk about the ignorant leading the masses!

In other parts of the world, poverty separates ignorance from reality.  East African children do not even concern themselves whether or not they are training, they simply run 3, 4 or 5 km to and from school, day after day, year after year.  South American and European children do not concern themselves with the aerodynamics of their equipment they simply ride up and down mountains whether it be to school, or for fun with friends. After years of swimming, throwing, jumping, hopping, skipping, running, cycling… these kids just “show up” on the international stage and clean house.

Why? How?

Once again we leave it up to the ignorant media with their equally ignorant experts to educate us… “its natural talent”.


10,000+ km of running before the typical rural East African child finishes high school and you are going to disrespect their years of training by denouncing their effort as simply a genetic gift!

Its bullshit, and those that repeat this bullshit are ignorant fools portrayed unfortunately by the equally ignorant media as ‘experts’ because they have a Ph-D in sport science or exercise physiology or some other degree which has prevented them from ever stepping out of the lab and coming into contact with reality (of training, not working out).