The Training Partner: Best Friend or Worst Nightmare?
A good training partner can be a great asset to your training but if you get stuck with a bad one, it could lead you down the road to frustration. Be selective when choosing a training partner. Not every person is a good one (some can be downright horrible!). Here a few things to look out for:
1.Punctual - Nothing is more frustrating than waiting to start a workout when you're ready to go but your partner is late.
2. Dependable - Choose someone who you are sure will show up for every scheduled workout or who will call you if they can't make it. It is a drain on your valuable energy (especially before training) to have to constantly remind and harass.
3. No personality conflict - It is obviously not a good idea to train with someone who annoys you, unless of course you want to focus that negative energy into your training. If you dread going to work out because you can't stand your partner, soon you may not work out at all.
4. Similar strength levels - Look for someone who is at the same or a little above your strength level. When your strength is the similar, you won't have to constantly switch weights. If they are stronger, it will motivate you to use heavier weights. It is okay to lift with someone who is much stronger or much weaker than you, but be prepared to do a lot of weight switching.
5. Training level - If you are a beginner, try to find someone who knows what they are doing. You will get more out of your training than if you train with another beginner.
6. Motivation - Find someone with a similar motivation level as you. It you are gung-ho and your partner is ho-hum, you will be dragged down and your progress will suffer. If you are both "psycho," you can get some incredible workouts though! If you are moderately intense and lift with someone who is much more intense and willing to drive you, it can spur you onto much greater intensity.
7. Attitude - Get a partner with a positive attitude. This is very important. If they constantly say that something is impossible or that they can't or you can't do something, you may end up believing them. Do not train with someone who is satisfied with no improvement.
8. Open mind - Get a partner with an open mind. Someone who has to do things his or her way all the time, will not listen to you and will not change his or her mind is not a good partner to have. In every partnership, one person will tend to be the leader. The leader should take into account the needs and feelings of the other partner not totally ignore them.
9. Overpartnering - Do not get too many training partners. Sometimes a group of friends want to work out together. This is okay if there aren't too many of you. You won't get a good workout if you always have to wait for your partners to do their sets and you will probably end up talking too much. Three in a group is probably the most you can deal with and even that is probably pushing it.
10. Spotting - Get someone you feel comfortable with spotting you. One of the main roles of a training partner is spotting and if you don't trust them, there's not much point in having them around to help.
11. Male/female training partners - Members of the opposite gender often make excellent training partners. Showing off is good motivator for using heavier weights or working harder. One of the obvious drawbacks might be the differing amounts of weight used. If there is only one bench press available and one benches 300 pounds while the other benches 95 pounds, changing the weight is going to take awhile. This can be solved by having one person doing dumbell presses on the same bench rather than barbell presses.
While there are a number of advantages to having a training partner such as spotting, motivation, and companionship, there are also advantages to working alone, e.g. self-reliance, self-focus, no hassles over schedule, no one to wait for, etc. In the end, it is really up to you whether or not you want or need a training partner.
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