Having a reliable workout partner can be a great thing. You push each other and ultimately make more progress in your training than you would have by working out alone.
However, a bad workout partner can be a workout killer. Poor habits or a poor match can spawn bad habits or limit your progress, preventing you from realizing the full benefits of your hard work in the gym.
So how do you know if your workout partner makes the cut? Here are seven signs that it might be time to break up with your partner.
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1. Your Partner is Consistently Late
This is probably the most obvious training faux pax. If your training partner is late, you will waste time at the gym and not get much done. If you’re like most athletes, time is a precious commodity, and just finding the time to get your workout in can be a challenge. So waiting for someone else before you start simply is not an option. If your partner is going to be late, let’s hope he or she at least has the courtesy to send you a quick text so you can adjust your schedule or get started alone. If not, time to ditch the partner.
2. Your Partner Misses Workouts
Next up is consistently missing workouts. This isn’t as big an issue as being late, because you can still complete your own routine even if your partner misses his. It might not be as fun or competitive, but you can still train.
That said, if you rely on having a spotter or you’ve planned partner exercises that day, you will have to alter your routine or saunter over to someone else to request a spot.
If this becomes a regular occurrence, you also have to question your partner’s commitment.
“Elite athletes are generally very focused and driven,” says Mike Boyle, co-founder of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning (Woburn, Massachusetts). “They’re not making excuses. They always seems to figure out what needs to be done.”
3. Your Partner is More Concerned About Chatting With Friends
A Chatty Cathy in the weight room is…
Your partner is just wasting space in the gym.
But on a serious note, there’s likely little regard for proper recovery time if your partner keeps running off to chat with friends between sets. This can mess up your lifts and make your workouts extend longer than necessary. Also, chatting is a distraction that takes your focus away from the task at hand.
4. Your Partner Has Different Goals
It’s really difficult to train with someone who has completely different goals. Goals are something you should sync up before you ever go into the weight room together.
For example, training to improve athletic performance looks a lot different than training to look better on the beach—or at least it should. To get more specific, athletes who play different sports have slightly different needs, which might make working out together a challenge.
At a certain point, you need to put your own needs first.
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5. Your Partner is Too Competitive
Training with a partner is great because it adds a competitive element. Knowing your partner is watching and judging, you might push yourself harder in your workouts. And who wants to lose?
But unhealthy competitions can develop.
If it comes to a point where you or your partner aren’t cheering each other on and are hoping for each other to fail, there’s a problem. A competition should foster encouragement and improved results, not jealousy and failure.
6. Your Partner Isn’t at Your Level
You might want to work out with your best friend, but this is not always the best option.
Let’s say you have several years of training experience and have solid form on your major lifts. But your friend can only do beginner exercises that might require a different set of equipment, such as dumbbells instead of a barbell. In that case, it would be a pain to train together.
Or let’s say you can do the same exercises, but you’re significantly stronger. Do you feel like removing and adding multiple plates every set. This isn’t always a deal breaker, but it could get frustrating over time and become problematic if you’re using shorter rest intervals.
7. Your Partner is Complacent
You need to challenge your body to achieve your workout goal(s). It’s the only way to force your body to adapt and get stronger and more powerful.
So to put it simply, complacency is a workout killer.
Your workout partner won’t see improvements if he goes through the motions and doesn’t attack his workouts. He needs to be comfortable being uncomfortable and to attack “challenge points” with full effort and focus.
“I talk to athletes all the time about the concept that I call the ‘challenge point,'” says Stu Singer, a sport psychologist and owner of WellPerformance (Attleboro, Massachusetts). “If you’re being asked to do another rep, the ‘challenge point’ is that moment where you feel like you can’t do one more rep.”
Maybe you have the right mindset that will bring your partner to your level. But beware. Complacency can be contagious, and it’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to make progress in the weight room.
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