Posted on 15 Apr 2016
7 min read
Sometimes it’s tough to motivate yourself to get down to the gym.
You’ve been up since six, spent nine hours doing a job you hate and all you want to do is unwind on the sofa.
If this sounds familiar, perhaps it’s time to consider getting a workout partner.
Someone who will make sure you get your arse to the gym and complete a great workout can be worth their weight in gold.
When you train alone it can be all too easy to make excuses as to why you haven’t gone to the gym.
The only person you’re letting down is yourself, and you’re fine with that as you crack open a beer and settle in for an evening in front of Netflix.
We’ve all done this, especially when it’s miserable outside and after a quick Google search have convinced yourself that you’re coming down with ebola.
But those workouts are the difference between being an average Joe and someone who smashes their goal.
As Woody Allen once said, “showing up is 80 percent of life”.
So if you’re thinking about getting a workout partner or already have one, make sure you follow these guidelines to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts and your partner.
To get the most benefit from your workout partner, you should have similar abilities and goals.
If you’re new to the gym, working out with your mate who deadlifts 600lbs probably isn’t going to be good for either of you.
Likewise, if you have aspirations of doing strongman events and your partner wants to be a bodybuilder, it’s unlikely to work out.
If you’re brand new to the gym or strength training, having someone in exactly the same situation is never a bad thing.
They’re likely to be someone who will face the same challenges as you and you’ll be able to spur each other on.
My recommendation is to find someone who is just a little bit stronger than you.
This will push you to keep progressing beyond what you’re capable of and you can be sure as hell your workout partner will be determined to stay ahead of you.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of friendly rivalry between workout partners.
Providing you’re not sacrificing form at the expense of your egos then it’s a great way to keep each other motivated.
Don’t be that person who bails on your partner last minute – or sends texts saying how tired you are leading up to the workout.
If the main reason you need a workout partner is to make sure you actually go to the gym, what use it having someone who constantly no shows?
Anyone can have a one off emergency.
Maybe an end-of-day meeting has overrun or the baby started erupting with vomit, but these really should be just a one off.
If you do have an emergency, make sure you let your partner know.
There’s nothing worse than just waiting around in the gym like some muppet who’s been stood up.
Show your partner some respect and you’ll get that in return.
If you find your partner has bailed on you three times in the first month of working out together, that’s a pretty good sign they’re going to be more trouble than they’re worth.
Just like in a relationship, don’t settle for being fucked around.
Find a partner who has as much commitment as you do and you’ll both be smashing your targets before you know it.
Without sounding like a grumpy bastard, the reason you go to the gym should be obvious.
There’s nothing more frustrating than equipment being taken up by people not using it because they’re too busy chatting to their mate or hitting on some Scandianivan crossfit chick.
Your aim should be to spend as little time in the gym as possible while completing your workout.
The more efficient you become at this, the more time you have to go the pub and watch the footy or wank yourself silly watching RedTube.
If you’ve not seen your workout partner for a couple of days it can be tempting to catch up on everything while working out.
But you’re not going to have a great workout when your mind is on something else.
Lets face it, you can’t focus on squatting 150kg when you’re having a conversation about the guy that’s in your ex-girlfriend’s new Facebook profile picture.
Ultimately, as Henry says in his article Unconventional Ways To Get Pumped Up For A Workout, lifting with an ineffectual gym buddy is like marital sex: an empty, unfulfilling experience which leaves you wishing you’d just done it in on your own.
How many times have you seen someone doing the bench press and their workout partner or spotter appears to be lifting most of the weight?
Not only are they not lifting a lot of the weight but the bar is stopping four inches short of their chest.
High fives and fist pumps all round when the bar is safely back on the racks – a new PB!
If your workout partner should need to touch the bar then you shouldn’t be noting that down as a rep you’ve completed.
If anything your workout partner should be getting a call from the Queen for the herculean curl he did to stop the bar from crushing your face.
If you really want to see results, be honest with yourself and each other about what you can and can’t do.
The most important rule of spotting is to know when to touch the bar.
Far too often you’ll see partners touching the bar on the first couple of reps before getting more and more involved in the lifting.
If that happens when you work out, how do you know how much you’re actually lifting?
Your job when spotting is to avoid a situation where a heavy piece of equipment is going to crush your partner.
Not to give them an ego boost and the illusion that they’re lifting more than they actually are.
There will come a time where either you or your partner works out alone and you’ll find out the hard way what they can actually lift.
This will certainly do more damage than a bruised ego.
Just remember this one rule: the spotter only needs to touch the bar if it comes to a complete stop.
When you’re just finding your feet in the gym, it can be an intimidating environment.
With heavy weights being slammed around and more grunting than a budget porno, who wouldn’t feel a little uncomfortable at first?
During these early weeks and months, a little bit of encouragement and support can go a long way.
While you might feel like a grade A plonker for high fiving your partner for completing a set of 30kg squats, those early workouts are the toughest you’ll ever do.
Don’t ever feel embarrassed of the weight you’re able to lift in the early stages, as nobody came out of the womb deadlifting 600lbs.
Set yourself a reward for hitting a certain milestone.
Rewards don’t always have to be big to motivate each other.
Even something as small as buying your partner a beer when they successfully complete all their sets of squats at 75kg for the first time can be enough.
When your partner is buying you that beer, you sure as hell know you’ve earned it!
The right workout partner can be a great way to help you get started or take your workouts to the next level.
On the other hand, a shitty workout partner can be worse than going it alone.
Ultimately what matters is whether you’re able to complete great workouts on a regular basis and continue to make progress towards your goals.
What are your tips for working out with a partner?
What horror stories have you got to share?
Let me know in the comments below!
I love your post!
You’re totally right: a good partner for the gym is essential to accomplish all your goals (which we have to admit, at first is really difficult to get in this healthy life. Every morning go to the gym and workout for about two hours, go home and eat a healthy breakfeast, etc, etc).
When we have a partner, this routine is more fun and attractive.
Also I think is important to talk about online personal trainers!
Some persons can go to the gym for their work.
I check this page and I think you can get an idea: http://www.aprildfitness.com/
Thanks for great article.
I find all these tips helpful, but I’m following Lazar Angelov workout plan, and most of my gym buddies don’t want to train with me because they feel like it is too much of volume for a workout…
The Woody Allen quote “Showing up is 80% of life” is motivation in it’s self.
But the fact that nobody came out of the womb dealifting 600lbs is a pretty awesome statement.
One day at a time, little by little, partner or no partner, it is an inside job.
Yo, great tips Gareth!
Thanks for sharing the article dude.
P.S. Love the images include here, haha.
When I was young, I used to be a personal trainer.
I felt like I had all the time in the world to work out, it was fantastic.
As we get older, our workouts need to be more focused and more effective.
I really like point number 4 and being honest with each other.
Integrity is essential in life.
If you can not be honest with yourself, you are never going to see results.
I’m like you, I need to be seeing results with my workouts, and a good workout partner can make a big difference to keep you motivated and to keep you moving forward.
Again, great job Gareth!
Thanks for the advice.
Yes I agree that having a good mate makes us more productive.
I love working out with someone who can challenge me.
Finding the right partner can help you increase motivation.
The last reps which cause a burning sensation are the ones that are counted.
Hence you would always need a person who could help you get some extra reps helping you build muscle faster.
An awesome workout partner has been one of the main things that has brought my bench press up.
Most people visit the gym not for the passion of exercising, but to achieve some goals – losing weight, toning muscles, etc.
So it’s easy to feel lazy or become demotivated after a while.
But, like you said, it’s absolutely necessary to choose a partner who will be a good influence.
Hiring a personal trainer might also achieve the same goal, since we all need some motivation and push.
Also, a personal trainer would be able to guide about the right techniques.