I get asked a lot of questions. One of the most popular questions I field is “What is the best way to train: Alone or with a partner?” Frankly, I have covered this topic in the past and I’ve told you some interesting stories. This time, I want to touch on the clear points of why training with a partner is so integral to success in bodybuilding. I should state; however, that I do recognize both the pros and cons in working out with a training partner – it ain’t all gumdrops and honeysuckle! Accountability is a fantastic thing, as long as you aren’t the one that’s slacking off. With a training partner, you have no choice but to be held accountable. If you slack off, show up late, or even do the unimaginable and miss a workout; your training partner is there to “bust your balls”. Sometimes, when I hit the gym alone, I end the workout prematurely--maybe a couple sets or even an entire exercise early-- because a bout of laziness hits me. With a training partner, that won’t happen . . . unless, of course, they’re lazy too. It’s also good to be held to a particular schedule; and knowing that someone is waiting at the gym for you to train is a great motivator in my book. I have to admit, it has never been an issue for me to get to the gym. However, believe it or not, there are some bodybuilders out there that have a hard time with it. Having someone you trust at the gym will ensure that you’re where you should be; under a barbell.
>Have you ever been in a gym alone and said to yourself, “Shit, I need a spot and no one is strong enough to handle the weight I am benching.” Of course you have, you silly bastards. For me, there is nothing better than knowing that I will always have a spotter for any lift I’m doing. It can get very frustrating to find someone that can spot you, especially if you keep asking them and interrupting their workout. Furthermore, what’s really dangerous is having a spotter that has no idea how to spot! When you’re lifting seriously heavy weight, you can’t have an incompetent spotting you . . especially someone who keeps yelling, “it’s all you” while you’re pinned under a barbell. In a perfect world, a training partner that knows how to spot properly is ideal. It is way better than having some random dude spot you, or worse yet, having no one. And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t go heavy at one time or another?Form is so important and sometimes, without the use of a video camera, you have no idea what you’re doing wrong. Having a knowledgeable training partner that can act as a human video camera and can point out what errors you may be making is highly beneficial. For instance, let’s say that you are leaning too far forward when you squat. You might not notice, but your trusty ol’ trainin’ partner will and they’ll tell you. In return, when you’re watching your partner lift, it keeps your head in the game and focused on the exercise. One hand washes the other. It always gets on my nerves when a training partner runs off and starts chatting when we are there to pump iron. If you’re monitoring each other’s form, intra-gym chatting is a huge distraction.
I’m not going to sit here and toot my own horn, but I’ve been lifting pretty heavy again. One of the biggest benefits for a big fella’ like me is having someone to help load and unload the weights. I know you guys can relate to having a huge pile of plates on the leg press and then having to strip them off by yourself after a brutal set. Having some help is awesome. I’ve seen some furus out there that you can hire for $100/hr and all they really do is tell you how good you look and load/unload your weights for you.
Training alone has its own set of benefits too. Scheduling becomes less important at the gym because you don’t have to sync up with someone else. Life gets in the way and sometimes people flake out and that is of no consequence when you train alone; you just show up and train. There’s tremendous flexibility and there’s no downside to that. However, the absence of a training partner means you don’t get the perks I spoke of earlier. The bottom line is that life, like working out, boils down to a huge bunch of trade-offs.There are some people who train in groups of three or four. I’d rather train alone than in a three-ring circus. This is just flat out ineffective. This kind of group training is silly because it multiplies your rest intervals and creates a longer/lower intensity workout. I am sure most of you who have been forced to train like this had it happen because your training partner brought a buddy or a girlfriend with them. The other day, I saw this situation happening at my gym. This group of three had two dudes and a girlfriend. One of the dudes was making out with the girl the entire workout; he was barely training. In my book, that is a huge no-no. And, by the way, don’t make out with your girlfriend on the gym floor; that lowers everybody’s testosterone! Friends don’t let friends lower testosterone. Keep the making out off the gym floor.
>The best scenario for me is to have a training partner for certain workouts. I prefer to have one for days like chest, shoulders and legs. Having a partner for those days, only, would be invaluable because I don’t really need a partner for training arms or back. In the next few months, stay tuned because you guys will definitely see me going balls-to-the-walls, heavy, doing some “In the Iron Asylum” training. Also, I am planning to have some video glimpses into my training techniques and philosophies on my new website gregkovacsunleashed.com and .ca. All articles by Greg Kovacs have been edited and arranged by Jeff Pearce since April 2011. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions e-mail him at a href="mailto:[email protected]"