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When you’re training, you’re getting specific. This means you’re training a specific exercise or group of exercises—either under the guidance of a trainer or yourself—with the specific aim of improving. The goal of the training can be establishing better technique, getting more reps, or using more weight, but training is all about having a defined goal and a predetermined way to get there.

In contrast, when you’re working out, you’re performing a test of your general fitness. You’re using the training you’ve undergone, and the aim is to “get your sweat on” while you find out what specific areas you might improve (i.e., train). In a workout, the focus is not about improving technique; it’s about maintaining technique despite the grind and fatigue. The goals are to get a pump, feel exhausted, do more reps, beat a time, or compete against someone else.

In CrossFit, you could say the workout is the WOD, and the training, or those sessions done with your coach in private, is the EMOM. Because of the focus on improvement, training should always be performed slower than a workout; in training, every single rep should be scrutinized by your coach or yourself and the mirror—in a workout, you’re going for it. So if you’re exclusively participating in WODs, the fact is you’re just working out, not training to get better. This means you’re probably not making progress as quickly as you could, and might even be getting injured more frequently.

If this sounds like you, take a step back and ask yourself what your goals are. Trust me, it’s time well spent—you’ll never get to your destination until you know where you’re going!

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