But what if your only option for a training partner is Johnny who has a bone deep conviction that pilates will make him stronger? And, he eats cheese and tomato sandwiches for dinner. Don't be a jerk. Allow Johnny to follow his bliss.
As for you, you've got to saddle up and tackle the iron alone. You don't need a training partner to dominate the gym.
Unless you are in an environment that brings the best out of you, the typical training partner arrangement usually lends to something like this: talking about work problems, showing each other Instagram photos of the dude you want to look like, canceling on your partner because you don't feel like going, to many trips to the water fountain, texting someone a novel when you should just call them later, taking alternate routes around the gym to catch the attention of that fox at the front desk. Running with these cats will sabotage your training and hold you back from making any type of serious gains.
In this case, you're better off training alone.
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You can probably relate, too.
Have you ever seen someone at the gym just "show up." It's like they're sleepwalking through every rep. No intensity. No focus. No mission to conquer. Perhaps this person has even been you at times.
You have no legitimate training partners to choose from and you're sick of lackluster training sessions done on your own. So how do you stay motivated to keep training and pushing as hard as you possibly can, when there's no external accountability keeping you in check?
Fortunately, research on behavior change shows us what compels us to repeatedly do something we don't always want to do. Here are five strategies to stay motivated when you are training alone.
No Gym Partner? No Problem! 5 Strategies for Success
1. Give yourself to a reward that actually fires you upThere are a handful of freaks on the earth that will grind through a Kick your pre-workout up a notch by adding unflavored Vasky.
2. Put your money where your fitness isThe world of strength sports in the last five years have blown open the doors for the common person to compete. Bodybuilding, physique, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit, and all of the obstacle courses are grounded in strength. Even endurance events can be considered a strength sport.
So pick your poison. When you think about entering an event, which medium gives you that butterfly feeling in your stomach?
You know what I'm talking about: That feeling you used to get when you ran out for the introductions of your Friday night high school basketball game. Whatever sport makes you feel that way, is the route you need to choose. Once you pick an event to participate in, here what you do next.
Write a check for $1,000 (or whatever amount feels dangerous) and give to somebody other than your mom (unless your mom doesn't tolerate whining and excuses).
From here, the rules are simple:
If you don't stick to your goal of participating in the event you chose, your friend gets to keep the $1,000 bucks. Completion is the goal. If you see the whole process through and step on stage, cross the finish line, or attempt your lifts on the platform you've completed the goal. In this case you get to keep your $1,000 bucks.
You've got skin in the game at this point and nobody hates burning $1,000 bucks just because they were lazy. Also, you've got a friend, co-worker or family member who is keeping you accountable.
3. Get paid to lift
The opposite end of the spectrum actually pays you to lift. So instead of fear driving your behavior of losing out on a $1,000 bucks, you can actually get paid to hit the iron. If you've tired everything in the book and still can't make exercising a habit, it may be time to turn to cold hard cash to get your tail in the gym.
Gary Charness, PhD, a behavioral economist at the University of California Santa Barbara conducted a study on the impact of incentivizing people with cash to go the gym. He found that people who were paid $100 dollars to go to the gym, had an adherence rate that was double of the other test subjects who weren't incentivized.
Ok, maybe you don't have that uncle who can throw a couple stacks your way every month just you can go lift some weights. (If you do, that's awesome. In fact, send me his info, I'd like to apply).
If this strategy peaks your interest, check out the app Pact. Here you'll find a like-minded community of people with the same struggle who will pay you to stick to your training schedule. If you fall off the wagon and miss a workout, the app automatically charges your card or paypal account.
However, if you reach your goal and show some discipline, you get paid by the community that's funded by people who have broken their own pact. Just don't miss, and you'll be aite.
4. Join a virtual communityPersonality types play a larger role in fitness then you might think. In fact, those who lean towards being extroverted are more likely to feel energized being part of a tribe, training in a group setting or being connected with a crowd with similar interest.
If that sounds like you, but you can't find a person or a group that you can connect with in person, then joining a virtual community is your next best option.
Online communities, forums, and private Facebook groups are exploding these days. Why? Because people like being connected with other like-minded people who have the same struggles and share the same successes.
Related: Join the Tiger Fitness Forum Today
Whatever your sport of choice is: Bodybuilding, CrossFit, running, garage gym training, physique, bikini, Spartan races, powerlifting, triathlons, Olympic lifting, you can find an outlet to connect with a group. Hope onto the google and search your sport for an online group. You'll find one.
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5. Throw in a ball busting challenge once a monthYou need challenges in the gym to see what you're really made of. This is especially true for the modern day keyboard warriors out there.
Getting caught up in the perfect periodizied program or following the rules to the tee gets boring. It's like waiting at the DMV: Take a number, go through the motions, and check out.
It's a beautiful thing to have access to the most complex training programs and diet strategies, but they are of little use if can't test ourselves with basic challenges.
Throwing in a ball busting challenge into your workout routine will do two things:
- It breaks-up the mind-numbing pattern of following a routine
- It makes a lot of other things in the gym feel and seem easier
This was in the first 2 years of training for both of us, and looking back the naiveté as probably an advantage.
We choose to do a workout called Manion. The workout was a tribute to a fallen shoulder. So, in addition to feeling like mavericks, we also felt noble. The workout consisted of only two movements: A run and a back squat at 135 pounds. The structure of the workout was design like so:
Complete seven rounds for time:
- 400m run
- Back squats at 135# for 29 reps.
I will say this though: After that workout, my definition of hard, was changed forever. It reset my ability to handle tough workouts.
Sometimes all we need to saddle up and take a challenge on that is beyond our normal training routine. Shake things up. Rattle the cage. And see what you're made of.
This method works well for the trainee who can't remember the last time they missed a workout. But they also feel bored, stagnated and meek about their current training. Throwing a challenge in once a month should wake up the beast that's gone dormant.
Wrapping UpDon't let the excuse of not having a training partner hold you back. You've got options. Find what method works best for you and implement it into your life.
Give it a chance to work too. Just like giving your training program a chance to transpire into results, you also got to give your motivation strategies a chance to mature.