How To Be A Good Training Partner

 

A good training partner, or group of guys/girls to train with is one of the most important factors along with good coaching, programming and nutrition when it comes to your long term success.

They’ll pick you up when you’re feeling down, push when you’re backing off and just lighten the mood when things get too serious.

To this day, some of the best friendships I have were forged under the iron.

So you could say I think having good training partners is important. But then I thought about what makes a good training partner, and realized I’d never really talked to anyone about it before, or helped them understand how to be a better one.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

You can watch the video here now, or scroll on down to read the blog post in full.

 

I put this together for the guys and girls in my gym, Revolution Fitness, originally. So I haven’t discussed some of the bullshit you see in normal bro gyms like heavily spotted upright row benches and the likes because we don’t do that bullshit.

But be aware – not everyone you see helping is actually benefitting the person.

So we’re going to look at it from 4 angles. How to be a good training partner during the squat, bench press, deadlift, and just in general.

 

GymFriends

 

Here goes.

>> Squat
Friends don’t let friends squat high. This is a conditional one I guess. Some people don’t have the movement quality or mobility to get below parallel with any weight, and some people lack the skill to know when that’s happening – so are reluctant to comment.

Here’s how to know… watch your training partner warm up with an empty bar. Whatever depth they get to with that is the one ALL their reps should get to during the session. Friends don’t let friends squat high.

It’s great working hard and busting out loads of reps, but once the quality starts to deteriorate the training stimulus is lost. The glutes and hams drop off, and the lower back comes in.

The result? Unrealistic expectations of where your squat is at, and the risk of injury. Friends don’t let friends squat high.

And they do help them change weights during sets.

>> Bench Press
Your goal here is – don’t let the other person die. Being a good bench press training partner is super simple. If the person gets off the bench at the end of the set alive, and uninjured, you’ve probably done an “ok” job.

But being “ok” at anything sucks right? So here’s how to do a GOOD job.

Find out in advance the rough number of reps the person is expecting to get so you know when you might have to step in.

Spotting a bench can be a challenging thing – at some point you’ll just want to jump in and help. That’s usually when the lift starts to look hard. But friends don’t steal friends lifts.

What I mean by that is once the bar is still moving up – STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM IT! Let the person fight, let them grind the rep out, let them test themselves against the metal. It’s supposed to be hard.

If the bar’s stalled? STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM IT!!!!

If they squeal, yelp, shit themselves or ask for help, jump in and finish the rep for them.

If the bar starts to move back down again, jump in and finish the rep for them.

But if they’re fighting and not asking for help… you guessed it – STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM THE BAR!

You can have your hands underneath the bar READY to jump in, but keep them off until the last moment. If in doubt, watch how we spot in the gym – you’ll see if pretty quick.

NOTE: if you’re on the bench – don’t just let go of the bar and expect your training partner to do it all for you. Someone did that to me a few weeks ago and I ended up with a torn wrist flexor.

Don’t worry – I can’t remember who it was, so there’ll be no retribution.

>> Deadlift
Your only job here is to help them change places, stay out of the firing line of farts, and wipe their puke up off the platform.

Yelling slogans at them usually helps too.

Don’t spot a deadlift. Ever. Unless you’re a freak.

>> In General
Some of the best training partners I’ve ever had have been the most quiet. No talk just for the sake of it, but then a well placed word of wisdom and encouragement, then boom. Things happened.

Bants and Lolz are cool, but don’t feel obligated to talk non stop during the session like some sorta bobbing head mother mouth.

Help your partners change weights – and make sure one of you doesn’t rip all the weight off the bar at one time.

Double check their maths – if they’re working off percentages, double check their calcs on the sly. You want to make sure they’re not about to get smashed.

Load bar in easiest manner for all involved. For example if one is benching 50kg and another 70kg – putting 20kg plates on the bar doesn’t make sense because now you’re changing all the plates all the time.

Instead, something like this; Bar+10+5+10 each side. The 5+10 gets you to 50, and the extra 10 gets you to 70. Same same but different.

Push your partner along – if they’re slacking or slowing down the pace of the session… Tell them to step it up. Try not to be a douche, unless the person deserves it, but sometimes the best thing in the world you can do for someone is a few words of encouragement to get back under the bar and finish their set.

That’s about all I have for now on what it takes to be a good training partner, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything I missed, or what YOU think makes a great training partner.

 

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James Hanley

Strength Coach. Performance Specialist. Dog Lover. Powerlifter. And the guy behind the scenes in RevFit that keeps the plates spinning.