Is it possible? Do I need a workout partner?
Learning to workout alone properly can ensure you have no excuse to miss a gym day when your buddy is sick or doesn’t show!
You want to go for maximum muscle building right? You need a spotter when you reach the failure point. You cannot do any more reps of the weight lifting exercise that you are currently working on. Surely you will need a spotter if it involves your chest or your legs?
Let’s face it. Most of us would prefer to pair up with a weight training partner to ensure that we prevent injuries and remain safe. Even for those of you that prefer to work out alone, there will be times when you need a partner for certain exercises.
So what about working out alone? Is training without a spotter a good thing to do? What about safety? There may be times when you can’t find a spotter to help you. There will be times when it is quiet in the gym and nobody wants to help you. So what can you do?
Training Alone Is Still Possible
If you have to train alone then you need to consider your personal safety first. You do not want to be caught with too much weight above you and no way out, or have to use bad form that can be dangerous to get through that last rep.
Obviously having a spotter gives you the advantage that with a small amount of assistance you can get the most out of a set and that last rep can be completed without having to resort to bad form.
Well the thing is that you can train alone safely. You can use a power rack also known as a spotting cage. There are two beams which allow positioning to prevent you from being trapped from heavy weights landing on your chest during your work out.
Even with a spotter it is possible to injure yourself. You will need somebody extremely strong or even multiple spotters to totally prevent this and that is not very likely is it?
The Spotting Cage Or Power Rack
The spotting cage has adjustable spotting bars and is designed not just for upper body weight training such as the bench press, but also you can use it for lower body movements such as the calf and squat raise.
Why not use the squat rack? You also have the option of using the squat rack rather than the spotting cage but this is not recommended. The squat rack will not provide the same levels of protection that a spotting cage will.
If you lose control of the weight when using a spotting rack you will be fully protected without a spotter. When you are starting your lifts you can place the weight on separate smaller pegs and then move up to the long and large spotting beams as you progress through the set for maximum protection.
The only problem is that some gyms do not have a large number of spotting cages. Some only have one, so you may have to wait a while to use it. It may not even be possible to use it as it could become monopolized by bodybuilders that understand its importance to their safety.
If you have the money and the space you could buy a spotting cage for your home so that you don’t have to waste time waiting at the gym.
What Else Can You Do When Training Alone?
If a spotting cage is not available it is still possible to have a great work out alone. For squats you can opt to use dumbbells instead. This is not ideal but it is much better than facing an injury. You can just let go of them if you start to fall.
Do as many full squats as you can and then do half squats. They are not as effective but will help with your development.
You can certainly do deadlifts. There is no need for a spotter here as you just let go of the bar if you are beginning to fall. Bumper plates can help to prevent cracking of the plates.
Incline bench presses are a good alternative if a spotting cage is unavailable. There is still the possibility of weights falling on you, but the damage is likely to be considerably less. For a start, you should be using less weight and you should be able to roll the bar down to your hips and get out.
You could also use dumbbells for a bench press.
For pull ups or chin ups there is no real need for a spotter. You simply let go of the bar if you are about to fail. Your gym may have an assisted pull up machine which can help.
When doing rows there are ways that you can get that last rep completed without a spotter. Again if you get into trouble here you can just let go. You can do partial reps for an extra work out. You can also work on improving your grip so that you can hang on that little bit longer.
You can choose to do dips as there is no need for a spotter here. If your gym has an assisted pull up machine it is likely to have a dip bar and this can help.
What about standing overhead or military press? Again you can use dumbbells here as it is a lot safer than a bar. If you are struggling with that last rep then you could use a push rep to achieve it. It is really a different exercise but you will still be pushing yourself and you will be safe.
Always Be safe
Don’t try to be a hero when training alone. It may end up costing you dearly. If a spotting cage is available then use it. If not, do the other exercises that have been recommended here. Don’t end up with a big chunk of weight on your head or your chest!