Training with a Workout Partner

Question:  Hey Brett!  My name is Joe and I’m getting pretty serious into bodybuilding having competed in a half dozen shows. I’m always getting asked if I’m looking for a training partner since I’ve always trained on my own with good result. So my question is do you have a training partner and if you do what qualities do you look for in that person. Do you really think it’s necessary?

Answer:  Hey Joe, great question! I have had a number of training partners over the course of my bodybuilding career.  Early on I would train with guys my own age and we were all pretty comparable in strength and size. As I stayed with training and became more serious and competitive I felt a good training partner was paramount in me maximizing my potential. It wasn’t until after I competed in my first couple bodybuilding shows that I felt I needed a training partner who would help me train heavier and really push me in the gym. It can be very hard to do on your own! This is at the same time I met Ronnie Gregorecz, who I had asked to do my contest prep, but in the process we became training partners. Ronnie was no ordinary guy, he was a very competitive bodybuilder who happened to be 20 years my senior. But let me tell you Ronnie was and still is a beast, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who could keep up with him. This was exactly what I needed to progress.  Ronnie was someone I respected, and someone I didn’t want to disappoint. We trained consistently for close to 5 years and it was in these years that I made my greatest gains!

My training these days is very different due having a family and two young children. I remember spending 3 hours in the gym and on occasion going back to the gym later that evening. Oh, the no responsibility days how I sometimes miss you!  But I wouldn’t trade it for what I have now! My training consists of 4-5 days a week, 45 minutes a day. That’s all my schedule allows for since I have to use the gym daycare for my 4 year old and 5month old. I don’t think it’s fair to them to keep them there much longer than that, I usually do my cardio at home when the kids go to bed.  So with this training format it’s all about the pace. Basically, I don’t take a break throughout the workout. I’ve become a very high rep guy in order to maximize the greatest results with the allotted time I have. Now don’t me wrong, I train pretty heavy but you will never see me do sets of 4-6 reps.   I’m more in the 15-20 range so yes the weights have to be lighter. But guess what- limited injuries!

As far as training partners go these days, half the week I train alone, but I usually train with one or two guys for legs and back. These are guys I know, or help train for shows. They understand why we’re there and what needs to get done. They also know I’m one diaper blow-out away from leaving, which will completely ruin my workout. For when she goes it’s not one you can take to the locker room and change, it’s been known to be from ears to ankles. No shit!

Here is a list of qualities that I came up with that are important to me in finding a training partner:

#1) Punctuality If you say 6 o’clock, mean it or least have the courtesy to let your training partner know if you are going to be late.  I have parted ways with training partners in the past who are not punctual because it gets really annoying when you are on a strict schedule and you continually have to wait for your partner to show up!

#2) Focus:  It is paramount that my training partner is focused and doesn’t distract easily during the workouts.   I still use an IPOD when I train with a training partner because I like to save the chit chat for after the workout.   Music is a great way to tune out the general public and other chatter in the gym. We’re not there to jibber jabber, we’re there to work.

#3) Share same goals:  I usually train with aspiring or established bodybuilders, which 99.9% of the people at my gym I would not or could not train with!  It would be very challenging for me to train with someone who is just starting out since when I am training, I don’t really want to spend half the workout showing you proper form on simple exercises.  Similarly, if I am prepping for a show, as my strength goes down, it’s really helpful to have an experienced training partner to help with injury prevention, since as the diet drags on my strength drops leading me prone to injury.  It helps to have a good spotter as well as an experienced competitor to push you for those last reps.

#4) Respect  Respect the gym and the people there, even though we may stand out like a sore thumb, it doesn’t give you an excuse to be an asshole. We are all ideally all there for the same reason. And please re-rack your weights, you will never be too big not to re-rack your weights.

I hope these suggestions are helpful!  Keep the questions coming!

Stay consistent and remain balanced,