posted on January 22, 2019
I am going to start off by saying that I typically, and I mean 92% of the time, train alone. I have for most of my 10 years of training. Even before weight training, snowboarding was a big passion of mine and that is not a sport or leisure pursuit that you need teammates or someone to be present.
When I worked at a CrossFit gym, I of course trained with the class, this was both new and challenging for me. However, it pushed me to new levels, levels that I was not aware of. Eventually, I went back to bodybuilding/strength training because this is where the heart beats.
Finding a training partner is like finding a pair of jeans. It is rather difficult to come by. Maybe I was stubborn or I have had bad experiences with partners that just were not fully committed.
AND it is rare to find someone who has similar or complimentary goals and one you click with. Honestly, the desire for that interpersonal support is primal to our nature.
Recently, I started working mornings. A 5am type of morning. This was a complete lifestyle change. I am a super morning nerd, but 5am is a special kind of beast. Now that I am working a new shift I had to change some of my routine and training times around. So, Alison and I started training together. She just recently wrote a triphasic/hypertrophy program. I told her I would train with her because I just ended my program and I was searching for something new…cue Alison walking down the hall with a glimmering light shining above her head.
We are wrapping up the second week and let me tell you about the benefits of having her and the benefits you can experience from a training partner.
Of course, making excuses is easier than doing the work. Of course, bad habits can creep up. But, having a partner to hold you accountable and remind you of your why can be the perfect solution. Don’t let them down! However, if you are having an off day, body is feeling run down, or you are simply near a perpetual state of over-reaching, then rest. Be honest with your partner and communicate, this situation is not an “excuse” it is being mindful of your body. It is better than putting in half the effort and who knows, maybe your partner needs it too.
2) Outside Perspective
THIS is probably one of, if not THE most important benefits of them all. We all come from different training backgrounds and have read, studied, and been schooled in different areas. One thing I always lacked was the second set of eyes. Alison, the coach that she is, is the perfect piece to this puzzle. She has called me out for not executing my squats for a steady 5-count eccentric. I have called her out for rushing through EVERYTHING, to her defense her background is CrossFit and Olympic lifting, so think fast and explosive. But, she has me there to remind her that her goals have changed and we need to slow down and concentrate on the isolated area. I have her to remind me of what phase we are in (i.e. eccentric), as well as her plethora of experience to help me through my days.
3) Healthy Challenge
I am by no means an extremely competitive person (only with myself). Having a partner to challenge you can be a healthy dose of competition. Alison and I have been keeping tabs on our water throughout the day. She mentions that she has 80oz in by 1:00pm, so I am chugging and filling. Getting water in above 75-80oz has always been a challenge for me, so this should be perfect. Grab your partner and check in, keep the challenges going.
You and your training partner will have different strengths, weaknesses, and ideas. Listen to each other, share ideas, cues, and make a masterpiece program that is a balance of both partners. This could be helpful if you are the type who tends to choose the same old stale exercises each cycle. I know I have a set few that are my “go to” exercises, but I also want new ideas that brighten up my training and could potentially be an effective piece. For example, at UF we recently got a landmine. So, Alison and I put our thinking caps on and collaborated on some fun and ridiculous ways to use it. Try new things, listen, and be humble.
5) Support during the lows
Not every day is going to be peaches and cream. Having a training partner can help push you, motivate, and inspire. A good training partner is there to listen, push you through it, and remind of why you started.
Share your successes. Yes, you can get excited over a new PR or reaching a goal, however it feels good when someone is there with you to celebrate with and share the experience.
Remember, let go of your self-deceptive thoughts, insecurities, or even your ego, and train with someone you like being around, someone you trust, and will push you to be better. You never know, your partner could be an important element to your success.