Have you got a gym partner already or are you a lone wolf? Everybody trains differently, some are extrovert gym goers, chatting to everyone, asking about sets and generally getting involved in everything that’s going on in the gym. These guys love the gym. Others are more introvert, quiet, focused, keep to themselves, not really concerned about what others are doing. These guys also love the gym! Then you have the newbies…these are neither extrovert or introvert, yet!
So no matter what group you fall into, do you need a gym partner? My answer is ‘Yes with a But’, or ‘No with a Consider’…
“Yes with a But”
Most people who have a training partner usually use someone who is a friend that also goes to gym. This is where we all started, go with a friend to make it less daunting, let’s both get fit together and have some fun. While this is beneficial for the short term, often friends have different fitness goals; Where two people started out with the same aim, this can often change over the space of a couple of weeks as one person is typically more motivated than the other.
Motivation: If the motivation of your partner fades he/she is actually becoming a blocker to your success. You end up training on your own some nights as “Something came up”, or worse your gym partner convinces you to actually not train tonight and we’ll do more tomorrow or at the weekend. It is your duty as their partner to convince them to get to the gym. You’re partners, you’re in it together! However if ‘something is coming up’ every week, your partner is no longer a help to you. This brings us to the partner who drops in and out of your sessions, Again sometimes it is fun to train with friends but if your partner picks and chooses what sessions you do together it’s again upsetting your routine. You’re session becomes longer and less intense as you demo exercises and take extra time usually explaining. Ideally you want to be the second most motivated person in the partnership, this will mean your partner is always more motivated than you and will push you to the gym. However do not become a blocker to their success by having no motivation of your own, or you may get replaced!
Strength & Size: Personally I don’t think you need a gym partner that is lifting the same weights as you. You can both do the same exercises with weights that suit you best. It take no time to switch the weights between sets. You are competing with yourself but if you gym partner is lifting similar to you that can create healthy external competition which can also be good. Motivation trumps having someone the same size & strength as you.
Gym Knowledge & Focus: It is extremely important to have a partner that has either the same gym knowledge or more gym knowledge than you in terms of exercises and Form. Its also really important that your partner has the ability to remain focused during the session. If your partner is too busy checking their phone, taking selfies or more interested in watching other gym goers while your f**kin up your form on your new personal best on a deadlift, it’s going to be a problem. Partners should be constantly focused on each-others exercises and making sure that the exercise is carried out properly. Little tweaks and variations to isolate the muscle is the most important physical thing your partner can do for you. Your partner should notice additional swings or engaging other muscle groups outside of the one your trying to hit. When training alone, particularly if your new to the gym, it can be very hard to pick these up yourself and results in ineffective training sessions.
Summary – Picking a Partner, in order of importance:
1: Motivation: Pick a partner that is more motivated than you, who will drag you to the gym. But never become a blocker to their success.
2: Gym Knowledge & Focus: Pick a partner that is focused on doing the exercises right and focuses on your sets as well as their own. Get someone with more knowledge than you, but don’t let them do all the work, read articles about form and exercises and become a help to your partner also! Advice needs to flow both ways.
3: Strength & Size: Not important but will probably happen anyway, If your partner is motivated and has the gym knowledge & focus, never trade him/her in for the Gym Big boys or Girls.
4: Be Nice: Be nice if switching partners, don’t lose any friends! Best way is to usually explain you’re ramping up your training, they will still pop along and sometimes get really motivated which is great or leave you to it. But always be nice
“No with a Consider”
Often if you have the correct self motivation you don’t actually need a specific gym partner. However you need to be even more aware of your body as you carry out your exercises. Form is key and you need to make sure your engaging the correct muscles, mirrors are your friend, but your best friend is to try and really focus and feel the exercise where you should. No one will be there to correct you so you need to be mindful yourself! I train on my own a lot and I constantly make notes about whether or not the exercise has really hit my muscle, If it hasn’t I make adjustments. Incremental adjustments until I get it right!
If you do train alone you will inevitably reach a point where for safety reasons you need a spotter. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help. Look for someone who is a regular and looks to know a bit about going to the gym. Most gym goers are more than happy to give a spot. Just ask at the appropriate time, when he/she is ready but also when you yourself are ready!
A spotter is not there to help you lift the weight! I see that so much where the spotter is actually the one doing the lifting. This type of spotter is a blocker to your success. If your spotter lifts your weight for you during the rep, ask him/her to stop. A spotter is there for safety and safety alone. They are suppose to be a safety net to prevent you from injuring yourself. A spotter should never touch your weights until you ask them to and the spotter should not yank the weight on to the rack at the end. They should provide a light touch if you struggle and allow you to push the rep out yourself until the end. Never Yank the weight!
Summary – Picking a Spotter
1: Ask Someone – Always ask someone if you feel you need it, people are there to help.
2: Don’t reveal reps – Don’t tell your spotter ‘How many your going for’, If you say 3, usual spotters that you don’t know have their hands on the weights after two.
3: Ask not to Yank the Weight – Just ask! Say you want to finish out every rep and you’ll let them know if you really can’t
4: Thank them – Always thank your spotter!
Remember though, A gym partnership is exactly that, a partnership! If both of you are happy, be!