Working Out vs. Training vs. Movement: What’s the Difference?

“How often do you work out?” is easily one of the most common questions I get from people, both on the internet and in person. My response to this question is, “I never work out; I train and I move.” In my view, working out is very, very different from training. And both working out and training differ greatly from movement. Allow me to explain.

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Some clips from today's training. Trying to make my training sessions a bit more structured, as in actually going in with some sort of plan (lol) 🤷🏽‍♀️ My focus at the moment is core, compression, and straight-arm strength. Going back to the basics and focusing on my weaknesses. Here are some things I did today: 🔹Planche ups (I literally just made up that name lmao) – Sit on your knees with your hands on either side, then push with your shoulders, engage your core, and try to bring your knees to your chest. These are deceptively hard and fatiguing. Really works the transverse abdominis, which is usually a hard muscle to target. 3×10 🔹Pike rolls – pike on a box with your hands on the ground and feet flexed, then roll onto your toes and over your shoulders, keeping your arms straight and locked. Very good for compression and shoulder strength (especially in preparation for straight-arm presses) 3×10 🔹Wall presses – back against the wall, arms and legs straight, press and lift your legs to handstand, then lower as much as you can, then press back up. Really good for compression and strengthening the wrists. 3 sets of however many you can do 🔹Tuck pull ups (mixed grip) – self-explanatory. Keep your tuck as tight as you can to build core/compression strength. 3×10 (switch grip after every 5) 🔹Knees to chest – I don't yet have the compression strength to go full toes to bar without using my lats, so for now it's just knees to chest. Try to squeeze for a second at the top of each rep. 3×10 Happy training! 🤸🏽‍♀️🤗 🎶 @stevejamesmusic @lights . . . . . #calisthenics #calisthenic #calisthenicsmovement #calisthenicsevolution #calisthenicsgirls #calisthenicsvideos #streetworkout #fitchicks #fitgirls #stronggirls #strongwomen #girlswholift #fitness #bodyweight #gymnast #gymnastics #fitnessvideos #workout #training #handstand #handbalance #handbalancing #handstand365 #handstandeveryday #coreworkout #corestrength #goldsgym #venice

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Working Out

When I think of the term “working out,” I get an image in my head of a person slaving away in a gym, doing unstructured exercises that have little to no functional value and not enjoying a single minute of it. Of course, that isn’t to say that “working out” is necessarily pointless or unenjoyable (in my view, doing something is still better than doing nothing), but the connotation associated with the term “working out” is generally a negative one — it typically evokes feelings of tediousness, pain, and obligation.

“Working out” is not something you want to do, but rather something you feel like you should do (I mean, the term itself includes the word “work”). How many times do you walk into a gym and see people mindlessly pumping away on the elliptical machine whilst reading a magazine or watching a TV show to distract themselves from the boredom or discomfort of what they’re doing? To me, that is a telltale sign that a person is simply working out. Here are some other telltale signs that you may be working out:

  • There is little to no structure to your session.
  • You go through the same routine session after session without any progression.
  • There is no specific goal that you are working toward — the goal may be extremely vague, such as to burn off calories, “tone up,” or get “beach body ready.”
  • You are going through the session mindlessly and/or using things (such as a magazine or TV show) to distract yourself from boredom or discomfort.
  • You dread doing it or view it as an inconvenience or obligation — it’s just another item on your to-do list — or you feel the need to reward yourself afterward!


Unlike working out, training revolves around achieving a specific goal. This goal could be as general as building strength and/or losing fat, or it could be as specific as hitting certain numbers on a particular lift, achieving a specific calisthenic skill, or performing well at a competition. Training is structured around what needs to be done in order to achieve that goal — the exercises performed during training sessions are selected as a means of working toward what you ultimately want to achieve. Unlike “workouts,” training sessions are substantive and meaningful, and they are much more effective.

Here’s a checklist to know if what you’re doing in the gym qualifies as training:

  • You have a goal (or goals) that you are working toward achieving.
  • Your sessions are structured in order to help you progress toward your goal.
  • You apply the concept of progressive overload (a gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency, and/or time) to your sessions.
  • You are mindful and engaged during your sessions; no distractions!


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Allll the straight arm strength work today 🙌 When people think of "strength," they usually think of it in terms of big muscle groups – chest, back, shoulders, legs, abs. What about your scapulae? Your hip flexors? Your forearms and wrists? Your transverse abdominis? Sometimes it's the seemingly little things that are holding us back from achieving our goals. Lately I've been identifying all my weaknesses and attacking them head on. It sucks to do what you're weak at, but it is so so necessary if you want to progress. Here are some exercises I did today to strengthen all those things I just mentioned (keep in mind I just made up all the names of the exercises): 🔹Crane taps 🔹Box press walks 🔹Straddle press leg lifts 🔹Planche rocks + tuck planche hold 🔹Literally no idea what to call this last one but @erikalisthenics showed it to me and it's very challenging and very fun!! 🎶 walk on water @30secondstomars . . . . . #calisthenics #calisthenic #calisthenicsmovement #calisthenicsevolution #calisthenicsgirls #calisthenicsvideos #streetworkout #fitchicks #fitgirls #stronggirls #strongwomen #girlswholift #fitness #bodyweight #gymnast #gymnastics #fitnessvideos #workout #training #handstand #handbalance #handbalancing #handstand365 #handstandeveryday #coreworkout #corestrength #goldsgym #venice

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Of these three concepts, movement is by far my favorite. Movement combines the unstructured and non-goal oriented aspect of “working out” with the purpose and mindfulness of “training.” What sets movement apart is that movement is done for health (physical AND mental) and enjoyment. Practicing movement requires no long-term goal; in fact, I think movement is best practiced without a long-term goal, as it allows one to be fully in the moment. Movement can be as structured as playing a sport with specific rules or as unstructured as dancing alone in an empty room.

The defining feature of movement is that it provides something beneficial to you — whether that be physically, mentally, or both! While working out and training are optional parts of life, I believe that movement is life.

Here’s a list of characteristics that truly set the concept of movement apart:

  • It doesn’t necessarily need to be structured or goal-oriented.
  • It is done for enjoyment and/or physical and mental benefit; there is no feeling of obligation, pain, or inconvenience.
  • It is done mindfully and there is no need to distract yourself because you are actually enjoying what you’re doing!
  • It provides something beneficial to you physically and/or mentally – e.g. stress or pain relief, pleasure, better sleep, etc.
  • It can often be used as a creative outlet.
  • It’s not about how you look; it’s about how you feel.

Which of these three do you incorporate into your life? Personally, I train for the goals I want to achieve and I move for pleasure, stress relief, and creative expression. There’s just something so fulfilling about being able to use my body as a tool to create, and to do cool things like pull-ups and handstands.

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Moving meditation 🤸🏽‍♀️✨ I'm happiest and most at peace when I'm on my hands. There's really no other time when I'm completely, 100% present – I'm always overthinking or stressing or worrying about something. I'm a very anxious person by nature, but when I'm upside down I enter my own little world, and everything that worries me seems to disappear. What makes you feel calm and at ease? 🎶 @lindseystirling . . . . . #calisthenics #calisthenic #calisthenicsmovement #calisthenicsevolution #calisthenicsgirls #calisthenicsvideos #streetworkout #fitchicks #fitgirls #stronggirls #strongwomen #girlswholift #fitness #bodyweight #gymnast #gymnastics #fitnessvideos #workout #training #handstand #handbalance #handbalancing #handstand365 #handstandeveryday #lindseystirling #musclebeach #venice

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So, if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s this: train if you have specific goals, but if you are currently working out and hating every minute of it, find a form of movement that makes you feel great and make it an instrumental part of your daily life. Once you find a form of movement that you genuinely enjoy doing, you will never have to work out again! (And if you want to ditch the cardio or weight machines and start doing cool things with your body too, make sure you check out my advice for starting calisthenics!)

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.