There are so many advantages to working out with a gym buddy. They can help you lift heavier, push harder, squeeze out a few more reps, or at the very least, make you show up for a workout that you wouldn’t have otherwise. After having some great training partners, and some not so great, here are a few tips for how to be a great training partner.
Show Up and be on time
This should go without saying! You’ve probably read it a thousand times…schedule your workouts like any other appointment you make. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be 15 minutes late to a Doctor’s appointment and you definitely wouldn’t just skip it, so don’t leave your workout partner waiting and wondering where you are or if you’re going to show up. Have respect for your gym buddy and their time. That might be the only time they have to themselves all day.
Have a plan
Training two at a time can take up more space and more time if you don’t have a workout plan. Having a plan of what exercises you’re going to tackle ensures that you are focused and stay on track. It also eliminates the back and forth conversation of trying to decide which exercises you’re going to do next so you won’t end up doing bicep curls in a corner somewhere when you should be doing squats.
Know what motivates your partner (and what doesn’t)
First, knowing when to push your partner and when to back off is really important. You might think they should push harder, lift more, go faster, but remember, not everyone works out the same way and that’s ok. You don’t need to lift the same weight or do the same number of reps. If your partners says they’re only doing 5 reps, then they’re only doing 5 reps. Not 6, 7, 8…. Your job as their workout buddy is to serve as motivation, and yes you can push them, but you have to know where that line is.
Second, talking down to your workout partner as “motivation” isn’t helpful. Negative motivation doesn’t work the way some might think it does. By telling your partner they’re being weak or lazy, you’re probably not making them want to work harder….if anything you’re making them not want to train with you anymore. Build them up, don’t tear them down.
Don’t talk too much between sets
It’s easy to get distracted when you’re working out with a friend but remember, you’re there to work. Social time can come after you’re done. Limit your conversations to just a minute or so while you recover before your next set. The longer you chat, the less lifting you’ll get in.
I’m actually not big on partner workouts for my own workouts, but maybe it’s because I don’t have the right partner! I tend to get less motivated when I work out with someone. But I love using partner workouts when I teach!