With summer just around the corner, the days getting much longer, and the weather generally getting much warmer, more and more of us are becoming more active and are getting more exercise in on a regular basis. Add to that the fact that we wear less clothing during the summer and of course we’ll want to look our best. Rather than pale, flabby, and pigeon chested, we’ll want to be lean, muscular, and ripped. Unfortunately, building a physique of that nature is not something that can be achieved overnight, or even over a few weeks. If you’re serious about transforming your body, you’ll need to be eating healthily and training regularly and smartly. That for some of us, is far easier said than done, especially if we train alone and don’t have the added luxury of a workout partner to help us in the gym. Training partners are extremely effective training tools which is why so many people choose to train in pairs rather than alone. However, finding a regular training partner can be easier said than done as personal and professional commitments can often get in the way and can leave training routines sporadic at best. For this reason, many people choose to train alone and if you’re one of these individuals and are looking to really step up your training efforts this year, take a look at these handy tips when training alone.
Superset your exercises
Let’s face it, when we’re training on our own we don’t always have the added luxury of being able to perform forced reps or train super heavy as we won’t have a spotter. A fantastic way of really fatiguing certain muscle groups however, is to superset certain exercises on your last set. Say you’re performing wide grip pulldowns for your back for example. You’ll perform your working sets, but on your last working set, once you perform, say, 8 reps, you’ll immediately lower the weight slightly and aim for another 8 reps. Once you hit those 8 reps, you quickly lower the weight again, and if you can handle it, again. Obviously you can’t do this on every single exercise as you’ll quickly wear yourself out but just one or two exercises will really help to fatigue your muscles and stimulate new growth.
Another added bonus of having a workout buddy is that they can help you to perform a few forced reps towards the end of each working set, which will really obliterate your muscles by pushing them past failure. They will assist you by ever so slightly helping you to move the weight, whilst still ensuring you do most of the work. If you’re training alone however, this is obviously not an option for you. What you can do however, is what is known as the rest-pause technique. Basically, say you’re performing barbell bicep curls. You’ll perform as many reps as you can until failure, but then, rather than giving up, you’ll simply wait for a few seconds, take some deep breaths, and will perform an additional two to three reps on average. This can be done with any exercise, and although perhaps not quite as effective as forced reps, rest-pause techniques are still fantastic for individuals that train alone.
Increase your reps
If you do train alone then obviously safety should be your number one priority as gyms and gym equipment can be dangerous. For that reason you can’t use stupidly heavy weights as you put yourself at risk of muscle tears, pulled muscles, broken limbs, dislocated shoulders, crushed sternums, and much more. If you can’t train heavy but still want to overload the muscles and push them to absolute failure, try dropping the weight slightly and increasing the weight instead. By stripping a few pounds off the bar, or choosing a set of lighter dumbbells, or going slightly lighter in the weight stack, you will now be able to perform far more repetitions than you were able to perform previously. At first you’ll think it’s pointless as the weight will feel far too light, but just wait until you reach 10 reps and then you’ll begin to feel the burn. Perform as many reps as possible until you reach absolute failure and by the end of each working set your muscles will literally feel as if they’re on fire. This will also provide an impressive muscle pump, which, let’s face it, always helps to motivate us and spur us on.
More machines for heavy exercises
Some exercises you will want to go heavy on and will be looking to really push yourself yet without a spotter or somebody on hand to keep an eye on you, it would be far too dangerous to try these exercises using free weights. If you insist on training heavy, use a machine instead. Machines are designed with safety in mind and although they isolate the muscles, they’re still fantastic pieces of equipment for adding mass without risk of injury. Flat bench barbell presses for example, are perfect mass building exercises yet training heavy with this exercise without a spotter is a recipe for disaster. As an alternative however, try a chest press machine or hammer strength machine which have been designed to mimic the movement of a barbell bench press, without the risk of dropping a heavy barbell on your face or chest. Simply go as heavy as you can, and if the weight is too heavy, you simply let go of the handles and the machine returns safely to the starting position. Remember, if you do insist on training heavy, machines are ideal as they’re far safer and they’re still very effective at adding muscle mass.