Strong Enough To Be Alone

Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness.
The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines.
– Paul Brunton

Solo training isn’t easy. There’s no one around to keep you accountable. It’s lonely.  To be successful at solo training in your home gym, at some point, you have to start to enjoy your own company. I don’t mean that you become a hermit or recluse. That’s going too far the other way. But in today’s hyper connected world, I believe that our constantly stimulated nervous systems need a break to allow them to recharge.  Think about it: we are constantly being stimulated.

The alarm clock in the morning, maybe with several snooze button intervals. Morning coffee, music while we get ready, the television on for background noise while we eat breakfast (assuming we take time for that rather than rushing out the door because we’re running late). Talk radio, podcasts or more music while we drive to drown out the noise of traffic. The constant noises of the workplace. Conversations during work, at lunch and a repeat of the morning commute on our way home. Slam the preworkout. Then head to the garage, basement, backyard or spare bedroom to lift with a steady thumping bass line of whatever music gets our blood racing.  If you’re a powerlifter, at some point ammonia makes an appearance. Then we settle down for some television before we fall asleep for a few hours to do it all again. And within it all is the incessant beeping, chiming or chirping of our cellphone to save us from the horror of a single moment alone with our thoughts.

At some point, you need to become comfortable with silence. If you can’t handle a single moment without stimulation, then I submit to you that you are in the most desperate need of some quiet time with yourself.

Constant entertainment makes you dumber

Don’t believe me? Author Mike Erwin has said regarding solitude, “. . . when people are distracted they’re 5 to 15 IQ points less intelligent. Some of the work that’s been done by some folks out of Stanford and other places have really referred to this idea that when you’re in this constant state of distraction, you really don’t have the muscle that is required to do that deep work and to focus. . . you become a sucker for irrelevancy . . .”

Basically, if you want to be able to concentrate on problems at work more easily, you need to spend less time distracting yourself and more time training your mind to analyze problems.  Yes, there’s value in talking your problems out with friends but at some point you need to be able to make decisions on your own. That sort of solitary mental workout also built the emotional muscle our forefathers had that gave them the grit to stand up to tyranny, endure deprivation and build nations.

Fortunately for you, your one hour of training time in the garage is perfect for that. If you don’t have a competition pending in the next six weeks, experiment with at least one training session a week where you unplug and just lift.

I promise that social media will survive without seeing your exploits for that one day. And you’ll be fine. We promise not to do anything fun until after you finish training.

As Richard Hawthorne, pound for pound strongest powerlifter in the world says, “You have to train your will.”

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on