How To Train Alone (and Be Successful)
How To Train Alone (and Be Successful)
What does it mean to train alone?
You are hitting the gym (or the basement/garage) 4 or 5 days in a row, week after week. Very seldom do you have a training partner joining you. You've got every excuse in the book, banging around inside your head. It's too cold! It's too early. I'm stuck with the kids. I'm too busy. Work was so stressful. I need someone to push me.
Is it doable? When you are training for elite levels of competition, can you train alone and be successful?
Training for maximal performance when you are all alone is both sustainable and doable. Does it suck, yes! Is it possible to overcome the challenges of solo training and achieve great things, also yes.
So ... if you are out in your garage or down in your basement, or you are working the third shift. Here are some insights to help you succeed.
The Downside: Lacking Support
It is great to go into the gym and have a training partner. A training partner will give you support. They will hold you accountable.
Say you and your training partner come into the gym, ready to smash the weights, and you see two other people you want to train with. You now have a community of people to train with. Having a community of people who want to get swole creates even more support.
Your training partner or community can also give you a good technical eye. Your training partner can be like, “Your squat sucks and this is why.” Your training partner can also point out where you have technical breakdowns in your snatch or clean to help you improve your overall movement pattern.
No spotter also sucks while training alone. Not having a spotter standing over top of you while benching makes it easier to quit. You will get to a point where you’re like, “Eh, I’m just going to rack it; I don’t need to push anymore.” When that starts to happen, your training can start to plummet.
When you quit early in training, it becomes easier for you to stop showing up. Not having that community or training partner leaves you without a sense of external accountability.
Next thing you know, you’re at the gym and getting lost in your cell phone. Your scroll brain sets in and the sad boy feels come on. You let the sad boy feels impact your intensity in training. You blame everyone else. That is not the way you want to go.
That said, training alone will make you tougher.
The Upside: Mental Strength
Training alone forces you to focus on what you want, how much you want it, and what type of effort you will put into your training.
Training alone can dramatically improve your body awareness. You will find your overall perception of what is going on around you improves dramatically.
Training alone also does wonders for your perspective. When training by yourself, things stay REAL. All that matters is your thoughts and the positive efforts you put into training.
Being alone and under the barbell, doing plyometrics, or perfecting sports skills in training will ignite an “I WILL SHOW THE WORLD!!!” attitude within you. You will find yourself having a special motivation to prove how cool your accomplishments are.
Training alone also makes it that much more fun when you have the opportunity to train with other people.
You will also develop hacks and internalized methods to be used to help with motivation. You will find that on days where motivation is lacking, you know the tricks to put the work in.
People like you who train by themselves, compete supremely well. You are internally motivated, know what drives you, and you're used to not having anyone around except for your brain and your crazy thoughts.
You will also find that you have to focus on hypertrophy work because you lack spotters. It is tough to push super intense loads without spotters so you have to do some more standard bodybuilding work.
Making It Easier
You need to create a clear routine every single day by journaling. If you struggle with accountability, create a posting schedule on social media.
Use social media as a community-building tool. Cell phones are great for posting, seeing what others are doing, and talking to other athletes and individuals who are like you, in the gym, going at it alone.
When you get into the gym, take out your planner and look at your programming goals for the day. Write out what your cues and goals for the day will be. You should also use your cellphone to film any lifts over 85%. However, the key to using the phone is having it in AIRPLANE MODE. It is a tool that you use for filming and playing music.
You also probably want to blast music until your ears want to bleed when working out alone three days out of the week. You also want to take two days where you don’t play any music at all and you are just listening to your thoughts.
Focus on specific rituals before every single gym session you have. You want to make this a consistent theme. The way you put your shoes on and the routine you use to prepare for your training session being consistent will make things habitual when training alone.
You also will want to, at least once a month, try to find a gym within an hour or an hour and a half from where you live so you can go train there and get motivated in a group session.
A major key is that you should 100% find a professional coach that can help you with your periodization, and technique, and make progress through your training. A lot of individuals think they know it all. That isn’t you. You’re a learn it all, not a know it all. You need a coach.
Yo, It's Dane
Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
Start Training With Me
Join for free educational videos EVERY WEEK on strength coaching and athletic performance