Training solo or with someone else is a personal preference. There are pros and cons to both situations, but there are definitely some major advantages to having a training partner that you click with – both for the fun of training, as well as the added physical boost you can get.
I’m lucky that Kyle and I clicked right away as training partners, we like to train at the same time of day, use more volume-based training (lots of exercises, lots of reps), and don’t mind getting yelled at to work harder. We work with the same intensity level, not needing to rest for too long, and rarely wanting to talk. We both listen to our own music and only talk about what we’re doing next or what weight to put on the bar. We will definitely chat if something comes up, there’s no rule against talking, but we’re aware to keep it to a minimum – otherwise you get told to stop shitting around. This might not sound like fun to most people, but it’s how we work and it’s made our training successful and enjoyable. I’m just proud that he loves to train with me, as many men won’t even consider training with a woman, especially competitive bodybuilders…
Working out with someone is helpful in a few ways – they can monitor your technique to make sure you’re moving safely, they can help you push out an extra few reps when you’re fatigued, and they can motivate you to try new things or heavier weight. The accountability factor can’t be overlooked, either. If you’ve set a plan to meet someone at the gym, you likely don’t want to stand them up and look like an a-hole.
With the shift in Kyle’s competition prep, our typical routine has been thrown off track (and yes, it took me a while to wrap my head around this due to my controlling, hatred of change personality). He now has to do cardio first thing in the morning, when we usually train, then goes back after work to train. This doesn’t work so well for both of us because of the dogs and a lack of evening hours. So, I’ve kept most of my training in the mornings, leaving my evenings free to do any food prep and packing needed, as well as let the dogs out and give them some time outside their bedroom (you’re welcome, rat dogs). Needless to say, this has been an adjustment for us and we’ve noticed a difference in our training sessions because of it.
It’s not all negative by any means, it’s just a feeling that something is missing. The intensity we keep, the physical push, and the time we get to spend together makes training so much more fun. We’ve done our best to match our training schedules so we can train together or close by for spotting help. It’s working ok so far – we have three sessions per week which overlap pretty well. The weekends are great because we get two days to train together without having to shift any plans.
If you’re thinking of finding a training partner, or have started to workout with someone and are wondering if it’s a good match, keep these points in mind:
- Do you have the same goals? Are you training for the same purpose, or conflicting goals? If one of you wants to train to be a power lifter and one wants to be a bodybuilder, you may have problems as your programs will be very different. Or, does one of you want to do a lot of cardio or fitness classes while the other wants to stick to the weight room?
- Do your schedules work together? If you’re constantly trying to rearrange your schedule to be at the gym together, it will become more stressful than helpful.
- Do you trust the person? If you were lifting a lot of weight, would you trust them to be able to help you if you got stuck? Do you trust that they’ll pay attention when you’re training to catch any potentially dangerous technique?
- Are you comfortable in silence with them? If it’s awkward to be around the person without constantly filling the silence, your workouts are going to be draining for the wrong reasons.
- Do they push you? If your partner is quick to cut training sessions short, by skimping on exercises or time on the treadmill, they may not be helping you reach your goals. Also, do they encourage you to try a little harder each session, either by trying new things or using more weight?
Those are just a few things to think about before committing to training with someone exclusively. Think of it as a dating relationship – you need to be compatible in a lot of different ways for it to be beneficial and successful.
I’m also a firm believer that while a training partner, or occasional training date, may help you be accountable, you should WANT to be there for yourself. This accountability may help you get started and form a routine of going to the gym, but hopefully after a few weeks, you’ll find yourself heading to the gym without the worry of standing someone up.