This morning my training consisted of a good ride on the bike. The plan was to connect with a friend and get in a training session before work.
As it turned out I did this one solo. It was a challenging ride up to the local ski hill. It would be a tough grind at the best of times but this one a little harder knowing that I would be going it alone.
But I was up early. I had my fuel and bike ready to go. So I clipped in and headed out.
It would have been easy to hit snooze and roll over. It would have been easy to cut the workout short. It would have been easy to ease up on effort.
But taking the easy route doesn’t help us get better.
In a way I guess I feed off the opportunity to take on the extra challenge. I feed off the adversity of being in an uncomfortable situation.
Because here’s the cool thing…
When you go when you don’t have to…
When you complete what you set out to do…
When you give your best…
You will never have regrets.
That being said this doesn’t mean all your training should be done independently. In fact there are a number of benefits of group training.
And a couple of studies looked at why group training might be better for you.
Medical school can be one of the most stressful times for students that choose this path. The researchers of the first study wanted to look at stress and quality of life on students who participated in two different fitness classes and those who didn’t exercise at all (1).
For 12 weeks, 69 medical students were assigned to one of three groups. The first group was a large fitness class, the second involved training alone or with one or two training partners. And the third group did not exercise.
At the end of the study the group that trained in a group setting had lower perceived stress levels and reported a higher quality of life. The students that trained by themselves reported a higher quality of life. And those that did no exercise did not report lower stress or improved quality of life.
In another study researchers looked at pain tolerance when rowing independently or with others (2).
24 participants were given a rowing workout for 45 minutes. Half the group performed the rowing in a group setting and other half did the training alone. To put this in perspective this would be similar to rowing 10 km.
Anyways what they found was that pain tolerance was greater when rowing with someone else compared to alone. And it didn’t matter is the other person rowing was known to the participant or was a stranger.
So should you train alone or with others?
I always perform a needs analysis when designing a training program. If you are someone with high levels of stress, a low quality of life and you don’t manage pain well than group training might be a better option.
However if these traits don’t apply to you than you may benefit from some solo training. If you can comfortable being uncomfortable this will give you incredible strength for future challenges.
- Yorks DM, Frothingham CA, Schuenke MD. 2017. Effects of Group Fitness Classes on Stress and Quality of Life in Medical Students. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 117 (11) 17-25.
- Sullivan P and Rickers K. 2013.The Effect of Behavioural Synchrony in Groups of Teammates and Strangers. International Journal of Sport and Exercises Psychology. 11(3) 286-291.