Finding the perfect workout partner is the hardest part of a solid training program. One can even argue that finding a workout partner that is compatible with you is harder than finding a mate! In fact, I know this to be true.
If you are one of the lucky few who have a workout partner, then you can well attest to the benefits that having one can bring you. From motivation to simple spotting, training with someone that has the same mindset and goals as you do is the best tool for success and one that most people don’t even think about.
Why Should I Have a Workout Partner?
If you’ve worked out with someone, be it male or female, and alone, the reasons for a workout partner are as clear as day. Here are just some of the benefits you will get by working out with someone:
1. Motivation: I will be the first to tell you that you should already be motivated enough on your own to workout, and should NEVER depend on anyone else to work out with you, or to motivate you unless you are paying a personal trainer! That being said, there is no better feeling than knowing that you can push yourself beyond your limits because there is someone there that will be able to help you, encourage you, and motivate you should you need it.
This is the difference between a good workout and a great workout. Hearing someone say: “One more” when you feel like quitting and knowing that if you should fail in that attempt, they will be there, is more powerful than any supplement you could ever take or any amount of rest you could ever have.
2. Safety: Quite frankly, you can get hurt if you train alone and attempt something that can be dangerous, like heavy squats, or bench presses with a weight that is more than you can handle. I’ve even been caught in this before when I have attempted to lift a weight that eventually wound up on my chest pinning me to the bench. Luckily nothing serious happened, and someone was close by to help me.
On another note, there is a strange mental block that forms with people when they feel safe when someone is spotting them. I cannot tell you how many people are able to lift way more weight with me just standing there just in case, and not actually even helping the person! It is amazing. This also goes back to point #1 above.
3. Consistency: If you know that you are meeting someone at the gym at a certain time, you are more likely to stick to your workout routine, not skip workouts, and be committed. The same token applies to the flip side. You can become too over-reliant on your workout partner and feel lost, or unable to train well when they don’t show up, which is why finding a workout partner that is compatible with you is the hardest thing to do. We will go over this in the next section.
What Qualities You Need To Look For In a Workout Partner
Here’s the tough part. I have had a few workout partners in the past, and each has had strengths and weaknesses according to me. One was better at staying focused throughout the workout, one was better at coming up with cool things to do, and one was more motivational. But, within the framework of different personalities, they each had to possess basic things in order for it to work between us. Here are the qualities that you should look for in a training partner in order of importance:
1. Personality: Obviously you cannot work out with someone that clashes with you in every way. You have to like the person, and get along with them. Remember you are going to be spending a very important 1-2 hours with this person, and a bad workout can ruin an otherwise good day. Usually, you want to look for someone of the same sex, with the same mindset as you, same demeanor, and interests in the gym. Sometimes the opposite can be true.
Someone who is gung-ho crazy needs a more mellow workout partner to balance them out so that they don’t hurt themselves, or at least have someone to spot their craziness. Likewise, the mellow person probably thrives off of the more intense person and gets a better workout. But usually, you will want someone with the same disposition as you, so that you both enjoy the workout, and get good results.
Included in this is if the person is prompt, always late, etc. If you are waiting for someone anxiously at the gym, and they are always late, it can hinder your workout, not to mention your schedule afterward. When evaluating a person for a workout partner, make sure that they are not flaky and that they are dependable!
2. Goals: The person that you choose MUST have the same goals as you. It does you no good to work out with someone who wants to “tone” when you want to get HUGE! It is a conflict and does not work. Although people will be in different stages of training, for instance, a bodybuilder might be in a cutting cycle Vs. a mass cycle, his/her goals are still the same, get as much muscle as possible, and be able to show it off with as little body fat as possible. Therefore, you must find someone, again that has similar goals to the ones that you have or at least someone who won’t slow down your progress because of their goals.
3. Schedule: If one person likes working out at night, and one likes working out in the morning, obviously it is not going to work. You must find someone that likes to train when you do, or you don’t mind switching to a time that they like, or perhaps you can meet somewhere in the middle, where you train 2 days at one time, and then 2 days at another time. Either way, this needs to be discussed right away.
4. Workout Schedule: Ok, let’s say that you found someone to work out with, they are a perfect match with you for personality, goals, and schedule, but they like doing legs on Tuesdays with shoulders, while you like doing legs on Sunday by themselves? Well, the workout schedule is another item that needs to be addressed.
Usually, if two people are serious about working out together, then they will find some compromise in this area, and realize that the change might be a good thing for them. But, there are also those that are stubborn and are used to doing things a certain way, and will not budge. This can be a deal-breaker and makes finding a workout partner all the more difficult.
5. Strength/Endurance Levels: Everything else is ok and good to go, but one person weighs 150 lbs. and is 5’9”, while the other person weighs 280 lbs. and is 6’10”. This might not work for the simple reason that the smaller person will not be able to properly spot the bigger person, which can lead to injury, lack of results, and an inferior training experience. If this is a reasonable difference, both people can live with it, but if there is a big disparity in strength levels, then they might need to look elsewhere.
Another thing to consider is endurance levels. Someone looking for a running partner will not find it too enjoyable if they routinely run for 20 miles while the person that they are running with poops out after 3. The same applies to weight training. Some people recover faster from each set, and faster between workouts than others. If you usually need a week between exercise sessions for the same body part, while your workout partner only needs 3-4, there will be some problems there.
There may be other factors to consider, but these are the most important. If anyone of these is missing, it probably won’t work out, no pun intended. As you can see from all this, you will probably never find a “perfect” workout partner. The best that you can usually hope for is 4 out of 5 aspects, hopefully with the one that is missing not causing a huge problem. If you do happen to have a perfect workout partner, hang on to them! They are rare and far between, but training with someone that understands you, your goals, and helps to motivate you, push you and stretch the limits of your capabilities is someone to hold on to.
With the perfect workout partner, you will see and feel results that you have only imagined. No joke. A good training partner is like a personal trainer always there, getting the most out of your body. The best results to this day that I have ever achieved have been with a workout partner. Training alone does not even compare. If you have the opportunity to train with someone that you know and trust, that can push you and motivate you, and then, do whatever you can to make it work out. Believe me, your body will thank you, and you will be happier than ever with the results you will get.
Keep up the good work,