Plenty of people work out.
Few get results.
Maybe working out is part of the problem.
Welcome to Earth
Picture yourself as an alien from another planet (we’ll say Uranus, just for shits and giggles).
You land on Earth at a gas station and ask to borrow a car. The owner of the car immediately hands you the keys so you don’t zap him to smithereens with your ray-gun, and says, “You’ll have to fill it with gas first.”
Now there’s a problem.
You know nothing about Earth cars and there are multiple options for gas. So you ask what kind to use.
“It doesn’t matter. They’ll all work.”
You make your choice, then shatter the door window, stick the pump in the driver’s seat, and literally fill the car up.
The advice wasn’t bad. Any type of gas would have been fine. You just didn’t know what to do with it.
The same is true with exercise.
There are many different ways to get in shape. But if all you care about is “getting a workout in,” it won’t get you far.
A Better Way
Stop working out, and start training.
It doesn’t mean your life has to revolve around fitness, spending hours in the gym everyday.
Here are the reasons you should consider it:
1. More Than a Feeling
Working out is… getting sweaty, sore, and busting your ass with no other focus, just so you feel like you did something.
Training is… starting where you’re at, making gradual, methodical progressions, and working at just the right intensity to elicit change.
What you should do is… be realistic about what you can do in the short-term and build on that down the road.
There’s no reason to push yourself to the edge every time you train. You should walk away from most workouts feeling like you challenged yourself, but still have something left in the tank.
2. Stuck in a Rut
Working out is… being too comfortable at the gym. It’s doing something that doesn’t challenge you anymore, but allows you to still say you did something.
Training is… never getting so comfortable with anything that it becomes boring, monotonous, and ineffective.
What you should do is… switch up your routine a little bit every 4-6 weeks. That’s about how long it takes for your body to adapt to a routine, making it less effective.
3. The Matrix
Working out is… doing what everyone else is doing at the gym because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do.
Training is… doing your own thing, even if it feels a little weird, because that’s what works.
What you should do is… figure out your goals and find a plan that suits them.
Want more specific advice? The trend I often see is spending too much time on cardio and machines, and not enough time with free weights. Start there.
4. Corporal Punishment
Working out is… punishment for eating poorly, or retribution for “being a fat ass.”
Training is… discovering the strength and beauty of your body that already exists.
What you should do is… stop treating exercise like it’s your weird great-aunt who tried to give you a spanking that one time even though she barely knew you and she was way too old and slow to catch you. (No? Just me?)
What I mean is… exercise is meant to make you feel better about yourself, not worse. If you have trouble viewing it that way, start training to see your strengths, rather than just making up for your weaknesses.
5. What the Health
Working out is… a (flawed) strategy for getting ripped.
Training is… so much more than that. It’s about your health, feeling good, getting strong, acquiring mental toughness, and proving to yourself that you’re capable of more than you thought.
What you should do is… work for the bigger picture.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to transform your body. But you’ll never see it realized if all you do is exercise your beach muscles. Base your workouts around compound exercises.
6. Clocking In/Out
Working out is… something that starts and stops in the gym. As long as you clock in and do the reps, it doesn’t matter if you have terrible form. And it excuses you from being active the rest of the day.
Training is… something that applies to your whole life.
What you should do is… work specifically on learning good form that translates into better movement in everyday life, reducing your risk of injury. And recognize that, if you trained today, that’s all the more reason to go for a walk later for active recovery.
7. The Beginning of the End
Working out is… for people who’ve quit before they even start. They jump into it with no forethought because they just wanna get it over with.
Training is… for people who know they’ll get results, even if it takes awhile to get there.
What you should do is… take time to consider what you want to accomplish a year from now, and the exact steps you’ll take to do it — day 1 to day 365. The details can and will change, but if you don’t have a specific plan, you’ve already failed.
To Be Clear
Whether you call it “working out” or “training” is just semantics.
It doesn’t matter.
Whatever type of exercise you do, be sure it’s well thought out and that you do it with intention. Do it because you’ve found a method you like. Do it in a way that positively affects your life and health in every aspect.
Do it this way because it works, and that’s what really matters.