When it comes to strength training, one important truth is that your sessions can be incredibly improved by finding a good gym partner.
When first starting, many people think this is just a myth, something people tell themselves to feel better about having friends. Which is why when we first start training, many people go down the path of iron alone.
However, training on your own can create many disadvantages, from safety concerns all the way to not having the right form critique. Which is why having a training partner, a GOOD training partner, comes in clutch.
Even when you don’t count the obvious wins like encouragement, friendship and other things, there are tons more positive things you can take advantage of.
Better Training Performance
When it comes to better training performance, sometimes there are mystical improvements that start happening when you find that right partner that is as dedicated as you.
Challenging one another is one part of it, however it often goes much deeper than that. The psychological want of ensuring you aren't the weak link in the training duo is huge. Or maybe its the fact that you have found a rival that you don’t want to lose to, so you get an extra rep out of the set that they weren’t expecting. 9 times out of 10 however, it’s a combination of the two.
It has been documented time and again when athletes find a like minded training partner, someone who shares the struggle, you gain a positive impact at the end of the day.
If you have spent an extended period of time training alone, you may not see this happening, but a good training partner will pull you up to their level and give you the mental boost you need to win.
More Training Accountability
If you have spent any time in the gym, you know that motivation isn’t forever, even if dedication is there.
Lifters and athletes who are able to stick through tough training, even when they don’t feel like it understand that you enjoy more success in the long term.
But hitting those reps with the same intensity during a low motivation period isn’t easy in the slightest. Weights that were feeling incredibly light are glued to the floor and a training session that used to be fun are now dragging you down into the dirt. That’s where the right training partner comes in.
If you’ve been in the game a long time, you understand the respect a good training partner deserves. You don’t leave them high and dry, you give them the best effort musterable and put your all into the session. Understanding this dynamic can help kick your rear in gear to put you under the bar when you don’t feel like it.
And training partners are a two way street, because as humans, training ebbs and flows from day to day, depending on who you are and what you are looking for.
A good training partner will push you into action when you are feeling down, and if you are a reliable training partner, you’ll be able to do the same for them.
Learning from Your Training Partner
It doesn’t matter how long you have been hitting the weights, because if you only spend time alone you’ll never understand them fully.
Sharing observations, experience and different viewpoints helps add to the toolbox that is your training style. Training partners can help figure out problems for one another and ensure that training styles and methodology can keep advancing, no matter what is happening in their life.
While training partners can have the same focus and drive, that in no way means that what they have gone through will be different. These experiences give one another the tools to overcome training obstacles. Use each others failures as a way to grow, the successes as a way to learn, and allow your buddy to have the same support. When a PR is hit, ask why it happened and what you can learn. If an injury occurs, make sure your observe how it went down and let it steer you on the right path for both avoidance and recovery in the future.
What Makes a Training Partner Bad
Now that you know what makes a good, solid training partner, it's time to figure out the warning signs about what makes a bad one.
While a good training partner improves your sessions and makes you better, a bad one negatively impacts everything around them. Learning how to spot a bad partner early on is inherently important as you need to kick them to the curb before they affect your sessions.
Here are a few signs that you need to start looking for a new training partner:
The first, and possibly biggest thing to look for in a training partner is that they show up to your sessions when agreed (give or take 5 minutes). If they can’t even show up to your sessions on time, why would you trust them to spot you when needed. Showing up late, while not always, is a sign they are not as serious about their training as you.
If they can’t show up on time, show them the door.
The Art of Conversation:
While having a good rapport with your training partner is needed to keep sessions moving along during training, if they are talking for 10 minutes between every set, you have an issue.
Conversations like that can derail you training sessions, decreasing your motivation and negatively impact your training.
Again, this isn’t to say you can’t talk, but keep it reasonable to keep the session moving.
Low Effort Sets:
Your training partner should be giving it their all, as often as possible. If you notice that they are phoning in their sets or reps, it may be time to check in on them and their motivation.
At best, they are just feeling a bit down in the dumps and you helped pick them up. At worst, you need to start looking for someone else to spend time with so you can stand at the top of the mountain.
Training can be brutal, but their response doesn’t have to be. While we a little bit of “whew that was hard” is ok from time to time, if that is their main mode of communication, you may need to reexamine.
If they only bring negativity about the training program, you probably don’t have the same goals and you should evaluate where to go from here.
While these aren’t the hard and fast rules of finding a training partner, they are a quick guide on how to ensure that you as a lifter can get the most out of YOUR training.
Whether someone is the creme de la creme or just someone to wave hi to on your way through the weights, just know you are sitting on incredible potential.
What kind of training partner do you have? Sound off in the comments so they get the glory they deserve.
If you are wondering what other Common Mistakes can be made in powerlifting, check out our article!