Pavel Tsatsouline is a big fan of never using the term “work out” when you train. It seems that in the Russian language, the term doesn’t even exist. You train. Alternatively, you practice.
Tsatouline seemed to think the term “working out” evoked the wrong ideas, the wrong imagery.
Personally, I thought the idea was kind of dumb. I never had a problem with the imagery of working out. I couldn’t imagine it would make a difference to anyone who would actually give a damn.
After spending a lot of time doing kettlebell snatches, though? Now, I’m not so sure.
Why ‘practice’ actually makes some sense
It doesn’t take a long time to learn how to do a snatch correctly. Not long at all.
But while I was doing them yet again yesterday, I was reminded of a phrase I first heard within the tactical community. “Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”
That was what I’m currently doing. I’m training until I can’t get a snatch wrong by accident.
But I’m practicing.
“That’s different. You’re learning a particular skill. That’s different from other forms of training,” you might say. Well, I hear ya.
However, I’m going to evoke Tsatsouline yet again. He argues that strength is a skill.
He’s not necessarily wrong. After all, his focus seems to be a bit more on building neurological strength–in other words, conditioning the nervous system to handle far more weight rather than the muscles themselves.
It’s more of a skill building effort than what people think of when they hear the words “work out.”
At least, that’s the thinking.
Does the choice of terms really matter?
For many, probably not. In the grand scheme of things, what you do matters more than what you call it. You could decide you “flourginate” instead, but if you’re training, you’re training.
On the other hand, though, words matter. Language helps us communicate ideas.
By practicing, you convey the idea that you’re training for a particular effort or technique.
But “working out” is so completely vague that it really conveys little. Are you doing Zumba? Are you bodybuilding? What exactly are you doing?
Plus, let’s be honest. People may be willing to practice something when they won’t work out. That matters a whole hell of a lot.
Learning has a level of excitement
Like I said earlier, words matter. There’s a level of excitement that crops up when you’re learning something new, when you’re practicing a skill. People are thrilled to go to a ballroom dance class or to learn how to speak French.
On the same token, I’ve been excited to really learn and master the snatch. It’s easy to go out and train because it’s not a workout. It’s learning.
In the same manner, the word “training” conveys an idea that you’re working toward something. There’s training for a marathon or training for a powerlifting meet.
“Training” conveys a lot of that sense of excitement.
Plus, frankly, I think the word applies more than “practice” does when you’re not specifically trying to replicate a given skill.
Don’t get too hung up, though
This is the part where I basically blow off everything I just said.
Mostly, though, it’s because if “work out” gets you off our butt and into the gym or puts your hand on a kettlebell, who cares if you use it then?
But I do think that for most people, the phrasing may spur them to get a-moving. If that’s you, then awesome. Use language to spur you into training.
Work. Train. Practice. Flourginate.
Do whatever you have to, just get out there and get it done!