Bodybuilding is an individual activity and the results will always depend on you and only you. Although a lot of people choose bodybuilding because of this, studies have shown that the whole training changes depending on your choice between a solitary or partnered workout. If you have an audience, you might get better results, and this means that having a training partner or a spotter will make you push yourself harder. When you’re by yourself you are probably lifting lighter weights and using easier cardio settings but that doesn’t mean having someone nearby makes you stronger!
There was a study done by scientists in Britain that focused on discovering if having someone train with you had an effect on your strength, perceived stress and self-efficacy. This last one is how much you believe in your own capability to finish a task. The researchers had their subjects doing bench presses at 60% of the their one-rep max on a Smith machine in two periods – one with a spotter and one without anyone around, three to seven days after the former. The spotters had no role in assisting or encouraging the lifters.
However, it turned out that having a spotter nearby while training notably increased the number of reps that the subjects were able to perform. When using a Smith machine, they could put the weight on the hooks at any given moment that they felt they were losing control, so they didn’t need a spotter to help them when they were about to be pinned to the bench and possibly injured. The subjects alone said that the reps were much easier to do when they were aware of their spotter. In the end, their self-efficacy improved as well in the presence of a spotter.
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Finally, these findings show us that your ‘training impulse’ and therefore your overall performance is increased when you have someone to watch you train. Also, when you train alone, you tend to do much less work. Having a training partner is obviously the better choice as it not only reduces your risk of injury, but also might boost your drive to train, making you lift more and heavier weights, which will of course, get you more gains.