To train alone is to develop a skill, or an art, and it is not simple.
Anybody can walk around the block or go through the motions of a workout alone…
I’m sure you’ve heard the popular quote, “80% of success is showing up”…
But JUST showing up is not enough.
It builds a habit, but doesn’t yield the greatest return.
Do you know how to push yourself when training alone?
I can tell you this..
It’s not as easy as saying, “Push yourself!”, and magical workout leprechauns and unicorns get you through it…
But you can put pushing yourself on autopilot with a few simple techniques.
Today, I am going to give you seven techniques you can use to push yourself. Put them in place and you will see the results you want when you train alone.
Like I said, showing up is not enough and you won’t get any gold stars from me for JUST completing a workout.
You read that right.
Maybe you feel good breaking a light sweat and burning a few calories, but I call that being a human being. If you want to be better you need to learn to push yourself without a cheerleader, without your favorite music, and without a reward.
Alright, do I have your attention?
I estimate that I have worked out in my garage ALONE well over 1,000 times in the last 5 years.
And I won’t negate having a training partner; they help TONS and I recommend having a partner if you can, but when you can’t here’s what you do…
#1: Set Meter Goals (once per week)
I love interval training.
I think it is one of the best and most effective ways to improve your conditioning.
There is just one problem…
I’ve tested this as a coach. If I give an athlete many intervals of 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest (with no further instruction), the final interval is WAYYYYY off from the first.
People tend to go out too hard and lose focus over time.
Unless they have a goal, but what should it be?
Here’s what you do when planning a 30:30 interval which will have many rounds:
Take you goal (not actual, but goal) mile time – say it is 6 minutes flat.
- 6 min = 360 seconds
- Mile = 1600m
- m/s = 4.44
- 4.44 x 30 sec would set your minimum distance @ 133m per 30 seconds of work.
If it’s too easy you aren’t doing enough intervals. You can also base it off of you 400m or 800m sprint speeds…It all depends on what you are trying to improve. You can do this all the way up to 5K race pace with longer work/rest intervals.
It works with rowing, Airdyne, Biking, etc.
Do this once a week and stick to you meter goal.
If you don’t meet your goal you will apply penalties, which we will talk about in a minute.
Next, we talk about the true motivator…MONEY!
#2: Put Your Money Where Your Fitness Is (once per quarter)
This one is my second favorite.
I’ve never done it but I have a friend who does.
Write a check for $500 (or whatever amount you want, but make it hurt a little) and give it to a trustworthy person who won’t listen to your crying and whining…
The Rules are Simple:
- Set a goal: How many miles you will run, pounds you will lose, or a weight you need to squat within 3 months, a time you’d like to run, etc.
- Option #1: Write the check to your friend/spouse and tell them to keep the money if in 3 months you don’t achieve your goal.
- Option #2 (the better option): Write a check to a charity you HATE, put it in an addressed envelope with a stamp ready to send, and tell your friend to send the money if you don’t meet your goal.
Remember this is about pushing yourself. Pick a challenging goal; like take 15 seconds of your mile time, or add 10 lb to your squat.
Make it hurt.
And if you fail, don’t cheat! The money is gone!
#3: Benchmark Yourself FREQUENTLY (once per month)
Now, you need to embrace your competitive nature.
We all have a competitive side, and you will be competing against your greatest enemy…YOURSELF!
If you workout alone often you need to push yourself more than anyone else because it is too easy to get complacent. If a professional is programming for you, then I’m ok with testing benchmarks every couple of months.
If not, you need to be benchmarking yourself in different areas on a monthly basis.
What benchmarks, you ask? Use the Eo3FIT benchmarks in the picture below. That is a good place to start.
You should know your maxes and lift off of accurate percentages.
If you’re scared to max out, get over it.
#4: Stick to a Freakin’ Program (at least 12 weeks)
If you’re not seeing results, I can almost guarantee it is because you aren’t sticking to a program.
And if you are, you aren’t sticking to it long enough.
In “Project Barbell” I stuck to the One Man One Barbell program for 8 MONTHS! Without the slightest deviation, I stuck to the program and added 170 total pounds, across three lifts, to my maxes.
Sticking to one program for 12 weeks, 6 months or a year is going to push you more mentally than it will anything else.
It can be challenging but in the end it is worth it.
You can read about my 1,000,000 pound experiment and the benefits of sticking to a program here.
#5: Start a Mental Toughness Habit (daily)
We should have started here.
Because in all honesty everything I am talking about takes WILLPOWER.
If you want to build the greatest human strength, you can! Willpower needs training just like anything else, but it needs to be habitual.
I try to do one thing that pushes me mentally each day, something I don’t want to do. For me, it’s normally a cold shower. Some mornings after working out, I just don’t want to take a cold shower (seasonally dependent).
I’ll even start with hot and think…I just don’t want to make this water cold. Anytime I feel like I don’t want to, it’s almost as if I’ve trained my hand to adjust the knob before I can finish the thought. Doing this day after day has increased my ability to do things I just don’t want to do. It’s made me better.
When you wake up in the morning, you are given another opportunity to push yourself…to be better.
Don’t squander your time being mediocre or average.
#6: Epic Penalty Programming (once per week)
Penalty programming is simple, and you’ve heard of it. But it takes a lot of self-discipline, which you should be building with your mental toughness habit above.
- Taking meter goals from above, you could set a 1-burpee-per-meter under your goal penalty, and do them at the end of the workout.
- So if your goal was 133m each interval, and in two intervals you did 126m and 130m you would do 10 burpees.
Get it? Now, let’s make it epic.
It works for a bit, but as you get better at intervals you need to make things a little more epic.
Epic Penalty Programming is this…
I was getting good at intervals and would never miss my goals. So I kept increasing my meter goal till I could just BARELY make it…then I increased it a little bit more.
Then, I set my EPIC penalty at a 1 MILE RUN per meter missed.
There is nothing like tacking on a 3-5 mile run at the end of a taxing interval workout to make sure you are pushing yourself.
I only do this to myself once per week.
The trick: COMPLETE the penalties no matter what! Build your willpower.
#7: The Iron Mile (once per month)
This is my favorite.
Aside from cold water, I don’t know of a better way to push yourself mentally than the Iron Mile.
The point is to walk away from your starting point 1/2 mile, then walk back. That way there is no quitting. Once you make it out there you have to come back, pushing yourself is built in to this workout.
Here’s the workout:
THE EO3 IRON MILE
Walk 1 Mile
The catch…Put something on your back, whether it is an empty barbell, a barbell loaded to 185, or empty (or loaded) yoke, but make sure it is metal. No sandbags, medicine balls or anything comfortable.
A barbell or a yoke. That’s it.
You’ll know why about 400m in… You’ll want to quit. You’ll start looking for excuses to quit. You’ll start blaming me and the stupidity of this programming. You’ll feel the pain in your shoulders and upper back, and hey, you may not even get that tired…But you will be pushed.
Once you get past the self-pity and blaming everyone but yourself for lack of mental toughness…you’ll know why.
It will be worth it.
Weight…IS UP TO YOU! Challenge yourself.
Check out additional info: http://www.endofthreefitness.com/how-to-train-alone/