How to Maximise Training on Your Own

In this article we're going to look at some of the issues and solutions that I have encountered from training on my own. What sparked this article, as so often does, was during a training session with my fellow weightlifter Mark Haydock of Houghton Barbell, Preston.

Like me, Mark trains predominately on his own in his ‘man cave’ and occasionally trains with other people, but training on your own does have its pitfalls. Winter springs to mind. It’s cold, it’s dark and why on earth would you want to go outside to another cold building to train!

The question is how do we deal with any negative feelings, fatigue, tiredness or overtraining? I’ll admit I’m no expert on any of these matters, but Mark and I do agree that when you do encounter any of the above symptoms there are ways to work around them.

Let me paint a picture!

I’m sure we’ve all been there. It’s time to train and you don’t really feel like it and then you get to the gym and start warming up and then go onto playing around with a bar and nothing seems to be working.

The question is, do we face matters and say that we are tired and walk away or stick with it?

My personal opinion and normal approach to this is to just stick with it, even when my training sucks! Because I believe that there is always something good that can be gained from a bad session at the bar. Surely, any training - even when it’s bad - is good training?

Now Mark would often tell me the story of the Soviet weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev and that he would go to start training and if it didn’t feel right he would walk away and try again the next day.

When asked if he trained everyday day, he said yes. It might not always be a good training session, but he did train. I can’t verify this story, but it’s interesting to speculate if he did indeed approach training in this fashion.

Fatigue & Tiredness

For any weightlifter these (fatigue and tiredness) are probably the most frustrating things to happen. One day you get up and go to the gym and you feel unstoppable and then the next day it’s all gone to pot.

So what causes this? I believe it’s not so much of the body, but of the mind. The body can take a lot of punishment, but convincing the mind is the biggest hurdle.

So is there a solution? Sometimes the best form of defence is to back off for a while and train a bit lighter or worst case scenario do something different or rest altogether (which I’ll cover later in more detail).

Going lighter doesn’t mean that you’re working any less, if anything it’s a form of rest that helps promote confidence, if training isn’t going well.

Eating Well

This is the biggest area that I’ve noticed that causes of lack of energy etc. I know it sounds simple enough and it’s something we should all know to do, but it’s easy to neglect when you’re busy at work or whatever it may be.

If there’s not enough fuel in the tank the engine won’t run at its full potential. Equally, bad fuel can cause tiredness and a general lack lustre mood. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this really, it’s just making sure the body gets what it needs!

Doing something different

Sometimes the best thing for your training, yourself and your sanity is to do something different - to mix it up a little bit.

The difficulty with training on your own is maintaining it. I find keeping myself going can be a real challenge, especially when’s its sunny out and I’d rather be doing something else.

That’s the point! Why not do something different? It doesn’t do any harm and it certainly helps improve your mood and inspires you to train. It can be as simple as doing a class instead of your normal routine, training outside or training with friends, anything to break that cycle.

Taking a break

One of the best things, if not ‘the’ best thing, is to take a break every once in a while and come back feeling ‘fresh’, but this is probably the most difficult thing for any athlete to do. As I full well know, I’d prefer to be at the gym, even when my body is telling me 'no more and go home'. It’s easy to do too much and I’ve been there many times myself, but the best medicine is some good old fashion rest & recovery.

On a final a note; it’s safe to say that no two people are the same, so not all remedies will work for everyone, but probably the best remedy for all is to listen to your body. No one can train at 100% all the time and something is going to give at some point, so a change, a rest or a break is the best thing since sliced wholemeal bread!