Should you work out alone or with a buddy? Like most workout questions, the long answer is “it depends”, but for most people working out with a buddy is ideal. The right workout partner can make a huge difference in your gains and overall experience in the gym. In this post I’ll break down the benefits of training with a partner vs. solo, and I’ll let you know what to look for in a workout partner.
BENEFITS OF A TRAINING PARTNER
- Accountability – having someone who expects you to be at the gym can be a great motivator to keep you from missing workouts.
- Energy – the ability to feed off each other’s energy can take your training sessions to the next level. When your buddy beside you is kicking butt, you’ll want to do the same.
- Spotter on hand – get a convenient helping hand to position the weight, to squeeze out extra reps, and to prevent injury.
- Pace – alternating sets with a workout partner provides the right amount of rest to build muscle without having to time the rest periods. For powerlifting, rotating within a group of 3-4 partners provides a good pace.
- Expertise – chances are your partner knows some exercises or workout tips that you don’t, and they can provide a form check any time you need it.
- Fun – good company and conversation can make your workouts more fun (or at least suck less in the case of CrossFit and other forms of torture).
BENEFITS OF GOING SOLO
- Set your own schedule – work out exactly when, where, and how often you want. Change your workout schedule whenever you need to.
- Pick your own exercises – do only the movements that work for you, a benefit if you enjoy unusual exercises or have injuries that limit your options.
- Avoid changing weights – when using free weights, it can be a pain to add and remove weights from the bar each set to accommodate a partner.
- Rest between sets as needed – begin each set when you’re ready. Short rest may be impossible with a partner when significant weight adjustments are needed between each set.
- Avoid negative energy – despite the best of intentions, most people have days when they don’t want to be at the gym, are full of complaints, or want to unload their personal problems on you.
Bottom line… if you’re picky about your workout routine and very self-motivated, then training solo is probably the way to go. Otherwise, you’re likely to get better results and enjoy training more with a good workout partner.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD WORKOUT PARTNER
- Positive attitude! – positive energy is contagious. A “can do” attitude will make a world of difference in your workout experience and results.
- Dependable – nothing will take the wind out of your sails more than waiting for a workout partner who doesn’t show up.
- Similar goals – common goals are needed when you’re following the same workout routine. If your buddy’s main goal is conditioning and you want to powerlift, it’s not going to work.
- Similar abilities – better workout flow results when you can keep the same weight on the bar, and friendly competition can raise the intensity of the session when you’re evenly matched. While I’ve seen successful training partnerships between people of very different levels, typically it’s more of a student and mentor situation.
- Complementary strengths – ideally your strongest lift or body part will be different than your partner’s so that you can learn from each other and motive one another.
It can be hard to find your ideal workout buddy, but if you’re able to it’s definitely worth it. Many successful lifters will tell you that a good training partner is worth their weight in gold. Don’t forget to be a great partner in return by showing up on time, bringing your positive attitude, and sharing what you know.
Good luck and happy lifting!