5 questions to ask yourself when picking a training partner
What should you look for in a training buddy?
Some people prefer to train by themselves and get great results that way. However, for many, having a gym buddy is a great way to stay motivated, stay consistent and, most importantly, stay in the gym.
So, you’ve decided to seek out a new training partner. That’s a good tactic —training with a gym buddy can be a big boost to your motivation and dedication to your fitness goals.
However, just like any relationship, there are some things you should consider before jumping right into it.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before picking the perfect gym buddy:
1. Are you at a similar skill level?
Ideally, you want a training partner at the same level of skill as you — or slightly more advanced. This ensures you’re starting out one similar playing field and can help each other with form and technique. Being at a similar skill level also means one of you is not in danger of having to spot a very heavy lift that the other can’t manage.
However, don’t forget that skill levels can go both ways. For example, your training buddy might have better mobility and thus can help you with your squats. By the same token, you might have a better developed mind-muscle connection and can help your partner feel the target muscle groups better.
2. Is the person motivated to train?
A training partner should be the sort of person who makes you want to get up and train. You want someone with an upbeat, can-do attitude. That means someone who’ll show up on time, isn’t constantly on his/her phone and is positive about training. By the same token, you should motivate them to want to train too. Two people with somewhat lazy temperaments are not going to get much done in the gym, if they can even drag themselves there. You want to keep the talk to a minimum but also celebrate each other’s gym successes: hitting a new PB, weight loss goal or new workout program.
3. Do you have similar goals?
Maybe obvious but a training partner should have similar training goals to you. If you’re looking build the most muscle you can, there’s little point having a training buddy who just wants to jump on the rower to help his footy training. However, similar goals doesn’t have to mean the same goals. You might find a training partner where you have overlapping goals that complement each other. For example, if you’re a bodybuilder, training with a competitive powerlifter will help you bring your strength up, while you might help your buddy with his training intensity and body composition.
4. Do you have similar schedules?
This one might not be obvious but when you think about it, it’s just as important as anything else. If one of you is on night-shift and the other has a regular nine-to-five office job, finding any time that suits you both will likely be impossible. Trying to suit one person or the other means someone will be missing out on sleep, recovery, family or social time — and that’s not how you want your training relationship to be.
But when you have a similar schedule to your training partner, you can decide together on the length and intensity of each session. For example, if you’re both only able to train at 6 am, you can come up with a short, intense workout routine before work. Conversely, if you both finish work in the mid-afternoon, you’ll be able to develop a more volume-based routine and take your time with things.
5. Can you trust this person when you’re in need?
You want to be able to trust your training partner. After all, they might be the only thing between you and a 30-kilo dumbbell landing on you. You want to be able to trust that they are reliable enough to spot you when training gets tough.
You also want to be able to trust that they know enough about training to tell you when your form is slipping. Many an injury could be avoided if a training partner was more alert to bad form creeping into an exercise.
This is one reason why training partners are, naturally, friends or even romantic partners. Some people find it to train with people they know well, while others would rather find someone who more closely meets the above criteria.
The final question, of course, is to make sure you want a training partner at all. If you have looked at the above and decided you’d rather do it alone, more power to you. Some people are more internally-motivated and feel a buddy just slows them down.
But no matter which route you go, one thing is certain: nobody can do the work for you.