Choosing the Right Workout Partner
So you're at the point where yo'r looking for a way to spice up your workouts. Maybe you aren't consistent enough to hold yourself accountable for coming to the gym everyday. Maybe you're looking for a little extra guidance, assistance, and growth. Whatever the reason is, selecting a workout partner to train with can be a huge stepping stone to help yourself ascend to the next level. This can be true with multiple types of training. A good workout partner can help you reach your goals and push you beyond your limits in ways that you couldn't on your own. Notice the key word there. A good workout partner. Selecting the right workout partner can be tough, especially if you are in a place or area that does not allow you to be very choosy. Choosing a bad workout partner, though, could sabotage your progress worse than when you were training on your own. Can it really make that big of difference?
I'm going to pitch you some points why choosing a good workout partner can literally make or break not only a workout, but your progress all together. In the end, my hope is to show maybe not so much how a bad workout partner can cramp your style, but how a good workout partner can be the difference between an average gym-goer, and a well-respected beast!
This is, in my opinion, a great one to start with.
By choosing a partner who has goals similar to yours, you will be saving yourself a lot of trouble. It's not so much the fact that if you have a partner who has different goals, you will face lots of adversity, but more so, how much more like-minded and efficient the two of you will be during your workouts. I have trained with both a partner who has had the same goals as me, and a partner who has different goals as me, and I can personally attest to the difference.
Let's say you have a partner who has the same goals as you. When coming in for a workout, you will be able to agree on how you will train. Let's say that one thing you both really want to improve is your bench press.You might agree that Monday and Thursday you do Bench press. You might also state that one week you will train heavy on the bench press, and the next week you will train for higher reps with more of a hypertrophy focus. You might also establish that you want to take both Saturday and Sunday off to recover. This helps the two of you develop a schedule and a routine. When you are both on the same page for this, the workouts go faster and are usually much better.
Now, for example, take a partner who has different goals than you. Lets say your goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle in five to six months. Your partner's goal is to lose 8-10 pounds of fat and trim down his bodyweight to look leaner. You might want to a 5x5 on the bench press, while your partner is going to do 3X15, super setted with triceps extensions. This would cause frequent changing of the weight, and your rest periods overlapping and get tangled up. You also might want to train four days a week, while your partner wants to come in six days a week. This is not to say it can't work, but I'm making the point that your workouts will be faster, and more efficient when you are both training with similar goals.
So, while this is not a must, it will help you be more efficient and you will be able to collaborate more on your workouts, rep ranges, rest periods, etc. Two meatheads working together is better than one!
Committed and Consistent
While the last one was not a must-have, this one is.
Having a workout partner who is committed and consistent is incredibly important. If you have ever had a partner who was not committed or consistent before, you are surely aware of it. To always be able to count on your partner showing up each day you agree to workout and being in it for the long haul will ensure that you have the help you need to push past personal barriers each training day. You are wasting your time if you are putting your stock in a partner who you "hope" will show up each day you walk in. Of course, being committed and consistent goes beyond just showing up every day for an extended period of time. You want someone who is committed to giving their best in the gym each day. As the great Les Brown used to say, if you hang out with losers you are bound to become one. Having a sluggish, lackadaisical partner can be contagious and may impede upon your energy and eventually your growth.
I would argue that there are few greater actions for growth in the gym than the action of consistency. You want a partner who will stick with you from the highs of a new PR's on the bench press and squat, to the valleys of plateaus and stagnation. Though all of these points are preferred to come as a package, a partner who is committed and consistent, but has none of the other traits will stand alone much better than any of the others.
Doesn't Allow You to Get Comfortable
This is one that is often overlooked by both parties, sometimes for long periods of time.
This one right here is a game changer, folks. We all love our routines where we start with bench press for three sets of ten, then go to the lat pull downs for three sets of ten, and finish with three sets of squats for ten reps. Even if you really are pushing yourself each time, this just isn't going to cut it. Our bodies are built to adapt to situations. Ever have a family member who clears their throat a lot? It might be irritating at first if they do it way too much, but you adapt to it, and soon are less affected by it than you were the first time. Exercise works in much of the same way. A new workout will blast your body initially, but after four weeks of doing the same exercises in the same order, for the same amount of rest, it begins to have less and less of an effect on your body. Remember that first day you were sore after a new workout, but then couldn't burn it hard enough to even get close to being sore a few weeks later? This, my friends, is the reason having a partner who doesn't let you get comfortable will be a game changer.
A good workout partner will always encourage a variation of exercises, a good intensity pace, will not allow you to be satisfied, and will not let you quit! As hard as it may be in the moment when you really just don't think you can make it the extra mile, remember your motivation and the end goal. Having a partner to help you keep going and to not quit will help push you over the threshold.
As long it is the proper pain, I really do believe in the "no pain, no gain" slogan. Anything that is worth having won't come easy.
How would you rate your current or most recent workout partner out of 10?
Without this one, the list would truly not be complete.
Having a workout partner with a positive attitude can help you spring ahead of the rest in this game of inches. A partner who has a good attitude will help you look forward to your workout sessions, will not mope about the struggles of achieving and maintaining superior physical fitness, and will encourage you as your strive towards your goals. Trust me, I have had some workout partners in the past who were not necessarily bad workout partners, but had a bad attitude and would say things like "boy, I really hate squats" or "man, I am sick of this healthy eating. Let's order a pizza, one time won't hurt." These tendencies can rub off on you, and can cause you to see a drop in your discipline and your drive.
Everyone has bad days, and no one maintains their composure all the time, but, again, consistency is the key. Having a workout partner who is consistently sporting a positive approach when it comes to tackling physical fitness will have a greater impact than it can seem!
So whether you already have a workout partner, are looking for one, or might not have one for awhile, adhering to these four characteristics will be a great asset to you. Remember this on the flip side; that you too could be evaluated based on these criteria by someone else looking for a partner. Always ensure that you give yourself the best chance to reach your goals and to maximize your potential!