CrossFitters are a particular breed. We want to do our own thing and not rely on anyone else — nah bro, I’ll set up my own bar over here. I’m going RX+! — but we also want to suffer (and succeed) with others. One hundred burpees for time is much easier when your buddy is also sucking wind right next to you, and we’ve all been in the awesome position where the whole gym stops to watch you PR.
Community! Camaraderie! Competition! It’s what we’re all about, but every once in awhile, you’re left to put in the work all by yourself, and it is just the worst. Maybe you’re traveling, or class was cancelled and it’s just open gym time. Perhaps you’re trying to avoid your ex and since he/she basically lives at the damn gym, you’re forced to take a late lunch just to work out in peace.
Unless you’re one of the few wonderful weirdos like Sara Sigmundsdottir who loves to train (and push yourself) alone, it can be extremely difficult to motivate yourself to work as hard as you would in front of a group. After all, no one is there to judge you if you cheat reps, cherry pick, or just up and quit. Yeah yeah yeah, you’re only cheating yourself blah blah blah. Shut up, brain. Exercising is hard.
But there are few little tricks to get you through those days when you’re forced to work out alone:
For most people, the hardest part about working out alone is not having anyone to compare your workout to. AMRAPs and For Time workouts are great when they’ve been tested by a coach or you can pace yourself with the rest of the class, but if you’re all by your lonesome, you might not have any idea if you should be aiming for 5 rounds or 7, 10 minutes or 15. EMOMs remove unnecessary thought, because if you know you have to complete a certain amount of reps in a finite period of time, you’ll get the workout done. It might be a little slower than usual, but the volume remains the same.
Training logs may work for some people, but others need to be held accountable by another human, or at least threatened with judgement from another human. Convince a friend to do the same workout as you at a different time and compare scores. If that’s not an option, follow the programming from a gym whose members post their scores online. Not only will you see where you slot in, but if you do their programming enough, you’ll probably notice that there are a few users who score around the same as you. If they start to do better than you in a workout, it could be a sign that you’re slacking.
Some days, it’s just about doing something. If solo workouts are a rarity, take advantage of the situation and deviate from your usual programming with accessory work. Never get to bench press? Go bench! Annoyed that your butterfly pull ups suck? Use that globo-gym to work on strict, tempo gymnastics. Go into the situation knowing that the workout might feel different from your usual MetCon. You may not be drenched in sweat at the end of it and you might not feel like your heart rate ever got up, but you’ll be challenging your body in a different way.
Focus On One Thing
Even with a set plan and accountability, things can go awry if you’re just not feeling it. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on one part of the workout and do it with actual gusto. Maybe it’s completing sets of wall balls unbroken, or gutting through the correct percentage of a weightlifting complex. You’ll likely find that focusing on that one thing will focus you through the rest of the workout as well. If not, give yourself a break. Most of us aren’t training for the CrossFit Games, and one dialed down workout won’t kill your gainz for the year. After all, it’s just exercise.