Workout or Work Out –What’s the Difference?

American culture is undergoing a shift in favor of healthier patterns of living. While exercise and a balanced diet have always been a priority for some people, today more and more Americans than ever are concerned with physical fitness and good eating habits.

When you hit the gym, are you going to a workout or work out?

If you aren’t sure of the difference, you aren’t alone. Many writers are unsure whether to use the compound workout or the individual words work out to describe an exercise session.

What is the Difference Between Workout and Work Out?

In this post, I will compare work out vs. workout. I will use each variation in at least one example sentence, so you can see it in context.

Plus, I will show you a useful memory tool that will make choosing work out or workout a bit easier.

When to Use Workout

workout versus work outWhat does workout mean? Workout is a noun. It means an exercise session.

Some people schedule regular workouts at gyms or other facilities, and research shows that three or more hours per week of exercise promote improved brain function.

Workout can also be used more generally to mean strenuous or challenging activity.

Here are some examples of each usage,

  • “Moving that sofa upstairs was a real workout,” Mark said to Angelo after they had moved into their new apartment.
  • “My Wednesday morning workouts before I head to the office are so invigorating,” said the sweaty accountant.
  • We talked to several scouts about Tebow’s workout, which was conducted by his representatives at CAA Sports, including two who attended the event. –The Washington Post

Workout can also be an adjective, like in the phrase workout plan.

When to Use Work Out

definition of workout definition of work outWhat does work out mean? Work out is a verb phrase. It means to exercise, especially a planned session in a gym or with a trainer.

Some people work out with a friend, and some people work out alone. Some people like to work out in the morning, while others work out on the way home from work.

Here are a few more examples,

  • “I need to work out more; I’m getting a bit chubby,” said Kelvin.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water while you work out, or you run the risk of becoming dehydrated.

Work out could also mean be ok, like in the phrase everything will work out in the end.

It can also mean to devise a solution to something, like in the phrase work out a plan for world domination.

Trick to Remember the Difference

is workout one wordNow, let’s go over a trick to remember workout vs. work out.

Since the compound workout and the two-word work out are different parts of speech, remembering when to use each is simple.

  • When you need a verb, use work out.
  • When you need either a noun or an adjective, use workout.

Since the compound workout is a noun, just like the compound login, you can use the similarities between these words as reminders of what parts of speech they are.


Is it workout or work out? These constructions are never interchangeable, so you will need to use each carefully to avoid errors.

Workout is a noun that means an exercise session, or an adjective that describes such a session. Work out is a verb phrase when separated into individual words, and it means to exercise, to find a solution, or to be ok.