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Not a team player? Don't fret because individual training can have its benefits

Going it alone is definitely not a bad thing.

Image: Lynne Cameron/Everton FC/Press Association Images

THE ARGUMENT ABOUT whether it’s better to train alone or in a group is a never-ending one and there are pros and cons on each side of the debate.

Of course, a lot will depend on whether you play in a team or individual sport in the first place but as work constraints in the 21st century mean that more and more are taking up individual sports – or are forced to train by themselves because they’re away from the team’s base – it’s worth noting that going it alone is definitely no bad thing. Here’s why…

1) Flexibility

Take for example an office worker in the capital who has committed to going to the gym at 6.30pm, straight after his usual shift finishes at 6pm. However, he has been asked to work late and can’t refuse. Finding time to go to the gym, or out on the bike or on the road for a run is hard enough to squeeze in at the best of times what with busy schedules, but it becomes a whole lot harder when a training partner is factored in.

Very often, people have a certain time-frame within which they can train. Person A: ‘I have 90 minutes today because I’ve to be back to collect the kids at 8pm’. This suits one person: Person A. Don’t make promises you can’t keep and you’ll keep everyone happy.

2) Disappear

Training is just about getting physically fitter, right? Incorrect. Training releases so many endorphins that it’s also very much for our psychological well-being and many view it as a stress-reliever. If you spend most of your day in a fast-paced and cramped work environment then going to the gym and plugging in your headphones for half an hour can be the best feeling you’ll get on any given day. No talking to anyone, your favourite songs, working up a sweat – it’s bliss. Don’t take your work home with you, spending the half hour replaying the day with a training partner.

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3) Time-wasting

Having a training partner makes time go slower because it’s another distraction. You have something you want to say, so you say it. For maximum benefit you need to have a structure to your session, and having a 10-minute chat between exercises will make you lethargic and lazy and pull you back out of training mode.

Having a partner can radically alter what you had planned. In short, less talk equals more exercise.

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4) You won’t be intimidated by the other(s) if they’re better than you

This is a double-edged sword because having a partner who is better than you can motivate you to be as strong or fast as him/her, but only up to a point. If you’re out of your depth it can become tiresome and self-defeating training with that person who’s killing you.

Remember, one of the purposes of going to the gym is to make you feel better, not worse. On the flip-side, if you’re the one who’s leading the way and setting the bar, so to speak, it could stifle your own progress by waiting for someone else. Plus, it’s hard not to sound patronising, isn’t it?

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5) Variety and pace

It’s rude to say no to someone’s great idea for a new exercise, isn’t it? Not unless it benefits you. Everyone is different and has personal goals when they train so don’t get suckered into something that takes forever if it’s not suited to you. Secondly, a partner may want or only be able to do certain things, which again, hinders your progress.

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