Regardless of the type of training, most people work out better with a friend. A gym partner can provide a spot when you need it, help you out with advice and suggestions, encourage you through a grueling session, and motivate you to get to the gym even when you had a long day and sinking into your couch seemed way more appealing.
Well, this is what a gym partner should be. As with any relationship, sometime you have to say "goodbye" to a training buddy, perhaps because they are not a good fit, or they're not giving good advice, or they turn an hour long gym session into a three-hour social break. Finding a good workout companion can be a daunting task. Below is a simple guide to help you become the ideal candidate as well as to find one for yourself.
The Do's and Don'ts of being a good training partner in the gym:
1. Know Your Partner
Everyone goes to the gym for different reasons. Some like being social while others thrive on pure focus. Many have casual fitness goals while others are committed to the long haul and seek to reach their full genetic potential. Either way, it's important to know the person you are working with and to discuss their goals and training styles with them. Be open and honest with your gym partner to avoid distractions or conflict when one person is trying to "train" while the other is trying to "lift."
2. Be On Time
Nothing is worse than waiting around for your partner to arrive. You show up ready to work and have to spend the next 60 minutes sitting in the lobby watching others get closer to their goals and you let them pass you by. A lot can happen in an hour. You could lose your motivation, start lifting too long after a meal and have low energy, or your pre-workout could wear off—if you take the stuff. Either way, being even 15 minutes late reflects a lack of commitment that can translate into the workout and cause unnecessary conflict between you and your partner. Treat your workout as if it were a part of your schedule and commit to it for extra points on the partner scale.
3. Don't Wander Off Between Exercises
I lied. Something is worse than a late gym partner: losing your pump between exercises because your partner got distracted and wandered off for a siesta. Keep the ADD in check and monitor your rest times to improve efficiency in the gym, and keep the momentum of your workout going. Try active recovery exercises or discuss the next exercise to get you and your partner mentally prepared for the next set.
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4. Limit Distractions
Texting, surfing, or Skyping during a workout defeats the purpose of having someone else with you. If you have a focused, committed partner, such distractions will be detrimental to their progress. Leave your phone in the locker room or put it on silent, and keep other distractions to a minimum. This includes playing music or the latest mannequin challenge video for all to hear or see, as well as chatting up other gym goers for extended periods of time.
5. Leave Your Stress at the Door
For many, the gym is a place of solace, progress, and release from anxiety. If you had a bad day, take it out on the bar, not your partner. There are appropriate times to vent, but the gym shouldn't be a psychiatrist session with your friend. If you have to get something out, mention it briefly to your partner and read their reception. If he or she doesn't seem to want to pursue the conversation, drop it and find stress relief through your exercise program. Chances are both of you will be pumping with endorphins after the workout and you will feel much better anyway.
6. Bring Something New to the Table
Training partners have different dynamics. Sometimes one is the leader and the other is the follower, other times both contribute to the workout and build on each other's knowledge. Drive your mutual success by reading up on sets-and-rep schemes, anatomy and physiology, movement, and recovery to help progress your workouts and get the most out of the partnership. When appropriate, challenge your partner when you think there's a better way to do something and keep them thinking about staying ahead of the curve.
7. Help With the Weights
A poor gym partner makes you load and unload the bar and re-rack all the weights. This offender is usually either distracted by their phone or so focused on the next exercise they forget to finish the current one. Basic gym etiquette involves re-racking your weights so others don't have to go on a 20-minute quest to find what they are looking for. It also increases safety by eliminating hazardous obstacles like a stray dumbbell or half-stripped bar. Make the partnership a partnership and give as much as you take.
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