o you train hard most days of the week with a long term goal in mind? Or do you plan each session individually and go into each one with a core focus? Regardless of which category you fit into, both can be effective mindsets for training.
However, understanding the difference is essential for building a training program to optimise your results.
Let me explain. Training for a session is when your workouts are constructed and implemented focusing on maximising the effort expended in each individual workout, with little to no focus on future workouts. This is a go-to option for a lot of gym goers. This includes; spin, body pump, circuit classes etc. and can be an extremely effective way to train. Sessions are typically a set level of intensity and difficulty, which does not build over time nor become more challenging. Training for a session is definitely not a detrimental way of shaping your approach and stands as a great method to ‘maintain’ your current fitness levels and body shape. However, if this is your only mode of exercise, your body will begin to adapt quite quickly meaning you won’t see improvements to your shape, strength or fitness.
As you may have guessed, training for an outcome is quite the opposite. This is where you have much bigger fish to fry than just destroying yourself each and every training session. There is typically a specific goal in mind that is to be reached by a specific date or time and every workout is another brick in the wall that will lead you to achieve your desired result. You know the saying “trust the process”? This is fundamental for an outcome based training focus. I often hear gym-goers leaving a workout feeling a little “undercooked”. However, in this method of training, each workout is part of a much bigger pie and leaving some juice in the tank is a necessary part of the process.
If you’re the type of person that’s disciplined enough to get to the gym but don’t have enough left over to push yourself once you get there (or don’t have any particular goal in mind), then training for a session may be your best bet.
However, if improvement and progression is your objective, outcome focused training is certainly a more optimal way to train - a tried and tested method across many physical sports & disciplines. Due to the nature of many fitness based goals requiring consistent performance over a long period of time, outcome-focused training can be very hard to stick to for long enough for that goal to be reached. This is where clever programming comes in.
Incorporating both session and outcome focused training mindsets are helpful for keeping motivated with your training and avoiding mental fatigue and physical plateaus. Planning short term goals through session-focused workouts is something I do both personally and with clients to keep training sessions enjoyable whilst maintaining a healthy balance in adhering to the long term outcome focused plan.
Determining just the right balance between what you need (outcome focused training) and what you want (short term wins) is vital to achieve your goals. This balance will differ for everyone but discover where you sit between these 2 methods and that’s where you’ll find your results.
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