Having someone to work out with can be both motivating and productive. Hearing that voice to encourage you to get one or two more reps or having those extra hands there to spot you can make a world of difference.

By Roger Lockridge

Does that mean you can’t succeed at all if you don’t have that friend there by your side? Absolutely not. Perhaps your schedule doesn’t work with someone else and you have to go alone that day. Maybe you just prefer to train alone because a partner can also be a distraction. We have our own reasons. The point is there are ways you can train alone and still reap many benefits.

Spot Yourself

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Any time you do an exercise that focuses on one side, you can use the other side to provide a spot when you reach failure. This method is best used when you’re doing a dumbbell curl. When the working arm reaches failure, use the opposite hand to assist just enough to perform the next rep. Then allow the working arm to lower the weight slowly on its own. Continue doing this for 2-3 reps and then switch sides. You can also do this on some triceps exercises like single arm pushdowns or extensions. If you’re doing leg presses, you can assist yourself by pushing on your legs with your hands to get the weight up as you reach failure.

Do Drop Sets

When you’re using a machine or doing an exercise that doesn’t put you at risk of being pinned, you can increase the intensity of the set by reducing the weight and performing more reps. If you reach failure at 10 reps, lower the weight by 20-25% and try to do as many reps as you can with that weight. That overall volume can be a big difference in your results and you don’t need someone to help you change the weight.

Use the Rack to Your Advantage

When you’re doing an upper body movement like bench presses or shoulder presses, you can do rest-pause training. Set the racks so the bar would rest close enough to get the greatest range of motion but allow enough space that you can move safely without getting hurt.

Perform the desired number of reps as you normally would. When you finish, rest the bar on the rack or on the hooks and rest for around 10 seconds. Unrack or pick the weight up and continue until you reach failure. Rest for 15 seconds and perform a couple more sets. You maximized the reps you can do with that weight and you didn’t need a partner to assist.

Partial Reps

Another way you can make the most out of a set alone is by using partial reps. Let’s use the lateral raise as the example here. If you reach failure and are unable to do anymore with proper form, focus on the bottom half of the rep and lift as high as you can with good form. Repeat until you can’t do at least a half rep with good form. Your delts will burn and you’ll have accomplished another great set on your own. This method can also be used with curls for biceps or isolation leg movements like extensions or lying leg curls for hamstrings.

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