Believe it or not, training partners aren’t just good for taking aesthetic photos of you pumping weights for your latest gym check-in on Facey. Besides giving you a bro to strut into the free weights area with and someone to chat to between sets, a good training partner will keep you accountable, push you harder and help you smash your goals faster. Better still, they’ll be there ready with a fist bump to celebrate the achievements with you.
A study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine suggests that training with a partner can even double your performance over training alone. Now you just need to find yourself the perfect gym sidekick! (Matching Lycra outfits negotiable.)
Need a training partner to hit the gym with?
Here’s what you need to look for:
If you’re aiming to pack on some serious muscle while your training partner is preparing for a marathon, this little union of fitness souls may not work. You’re both on very different paths, chasing different outcomes and will likely be spending time on opposite sides of the gym. If you look for someone whose goals align more closely with yours, you’ll be undertaking similar training sessions, understand the end destination, and can push each other through the highs and lows.
It’s a no-brainer. One of the most important aspects of having a training buddy is actually training together. If you have very differing schedules, not being able to find a suitable time to hit the gym together could be the deal breaker. Whether you’re a morning person, an after-worker or late night gym rat, ideally you want a gym buddy who likes to train at a similar time as you.
And remember, you and your training partner don’t have to be exclusive; it’s ok to have another gym buddy (or two) on the side. Maybe you hit chest and arms with Tom, run sprints 3 times per week with Jono and know that Brad is your man for a solid legs session.
Above all else, a training partner needs to be someone who will bring out the best in you. You need someone who will push you to get your ass to the gym, pump out those extra reps and keep your goals in sight. Ideally, you want the kind of training partner who will text you on the way to the gym to make sure you’ll show, who’ll rock up with a new pre-workout to take the training sesh up a notch, and who’ll convince you that you can do it when you’re 99% certain you can’t.
Does your gym buddy consistently stand you up, leaving you stranded in the squat rack without a spot, spend more time motivating you to hit the local pub rather than the gym floor, or have a disposition resembling that of a wet dish cloth rather than a cheerleader? Maybe you need to find someone who’ll actually get you pumped – both mentally and physically.
SOMEONE WITH A SIMILAR SKILL LEVEL
If you want to improve, find a training partner on your level or slightly better than you in one or more areas. Surrounding yourself with better athletes will force you to push harder at every workout to keep up with the best of them. It’ll ignite your competitive streak, providing constant inspiration plus an ongoing reminder of what you’re aspiring to. Meanwhile, if your training partner is much less experienced, you may feel unmotivated and bored because you aren’t being challenged enough.
In an ideal situation, you can both learn from each other, supplementing each other’s knowledge and expertise in different areas. Maybe you are stronger and can help your mate hit new PBs, while your buddy has greater cardio endurance and trying to keep up with him during hill sprints pushes your fitness to new levels.
SOMEONE YOU TRUST
When they’re the only thing standing between you and a fully-loaded barbell crashing down on your throat, you need a training partner you can trust, not someone who is too busy checking their phone… or checking themselves out in the mirror.
There’s nothing wrong with having a training partner you can joke around with, but make sure they know when to take it seriously. A great training partner always takes gainz seriously.
Let the search begin! Think you’ve already found your perfect swolemate? The one you’d never lift without? You’re a lucky man. Lock them down in un-holy gym-atrimony and let the goal-smashing commence.
Brandon Irwin, et al., “Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect,” The Society of Behavioral Medicine, (2012)