TRAINING PARTNER; PROS & CONS:
There are multiple positive and negative factors in the argument for and against having a lifting partner. Choosing the Right Training Partner is more important by far than choosing your next girlfriend or boyfriend, and the decision has to be made: will they help or hinder you in your aesthetic mission?
- Spotting: a good training partner can help you avoid, and actively prevent, failing dangerously on a lift attempt and getting injured. Having a reliable spotter can give you the confidence to lift more- especially on the big compounds such as bench press and back squats- than you otherwise would do alone, increasing your severity of progressive overload.
- Motivation: having someone of similar goals to yourself, who knows how you operate, is key to getting you through those tough sessions; where the weights feel a little bit heavier and you’re more tired than usual. They will let you know when you could have done more rep, and in most cases will push you through those last reps you otherwise wouldn’t have managed alone.
- Missing sessions: you may be tired, hungover, feeling sorry for yourself, or just being plain lazy. Here a good training partner will knock on your door, and berate you till you shake it off and get some kind of session in. Anything is better than nothing- when not on a rest day or genuinely ill!
- Competition: It may be a personal thing, but I can lift more when training with a partner of similar strength, or if I think someone I don’t like is watching me… but the latter method could involve unnecessarily demonising someone in the gym, so I wouldn’t advise it! Training with someone who challenges you adds some competitiveness to your sessions, which for anyone with a hint of history within, or love for competition, is arguably a good thing.
- Change: if you train on your own it’s all too easy to stick with what you know. We all have favourite and hated exercises, and favourite rep ranges and supersets. When training with an experienced lifter you can alternate sessions, weeks and lifting regimes between you, ensuring you won’t stay within your comfort zone- limiting the speed of your potential gains. Mixing up stimuli and cycling lifting protocols/employing periodization is a lot more likely to happen with a good lifting partner.
- Evaluation and Advice: we all see our own form through rose-tinted spectacles, so it’s good when someone lets you know if your form is actually a little off or could be improved. Also, introducing a slightly different plane of movement or speed to the rep could breathe new life into your sessions and prevent stagnation of them gainsss, showing again how a good lifting partner could help, rather than hinder, your aesthetic and athletic progress.
- Too much banter: are they training partner material, or just a good friend who you can easily chat and bitch with, and possibly insult for an hour? With lifting taking the back seat to your conversations. Too much banter and not enough lifting will affect your progression, as well as your rest periods. Sometimes they may even making you laugh mid-set, which is an absolute killer on bench!
- Complete newbie: I’m all for helping beginners get involved in health and fitness, however if you take an unmotivated, complete newbie as your new partner it may take a few weeks for them to catch the lifting bug- or they may not get into it at all. In this situation you will be acting personal trainer and training yourself; not the worst, but then again not the best situation to be in.
- Rest periods: this shouldn’t be an issue but often is when training with a partner, especially on volume sessions or when training with a much stronger or weaker partner. Changing of weights, conversation and the co-working on sets being inapplicable all cause you to miss rest periods.
Personally I’m all for training with a partner, but ensure they’re:
- Similarly motivated and dedicated as you are,
- Of similar strength and or good at spotting,
- Of similar goals,
- Have a sense of humour!