T Nation

Workout Partners

I’ve never really talked about this with anybody, but I figured this would be a good place to bring it up. I’ve been working out seriously for over a year now. I know my way around the gym pretty well, and I am enjoying my progress. The problem is that I actually use to work my gym ( a national chain) as a “trainer”. I was hired more for my sales abilities than my physical fitness training which was very little. Anyways, I quit and and signed on nearly a year later as a member (Good location between work and home). What I’m getting at is that I’ve always worked out on my own. There’s just something about most of the people there that just rubs me the wrong way including the staff. Now that I am lifting heavier, a regular workout partner would be key. It’s just hard finding one at this stage in the game. My friends outside of the gym express vague interest, but I don’t think they are as serious about working out as I am. To make an already long story not so much longer, how do you guys go about finding good workout partners?

for a year i was working out with a buddy of mind (a freaking HUGE buddy) where i was able to make most of my gains in strength, size, and general fitness. when i started graduate school, i no longer could afford paying membership at a commercial gym (besides having access to the university gym). this really hurt my heavy lifting as my confidence of what i could do myself plummeted. in the last few months, i’ve been able to train with 8 different people who were very interested in becoming as much a gym rat as i was (5 days/week) but were never quite up to the task, and were more than willing to forego a workout to do whatever other things they wanted to do.


here are my suggestions:

  1. if you go to the gym very often, and at a certain set time, there are usually some people there that you almost always see. these people show enough dedication to go as often as you do, and are hopefully open-minded enough to share time in the gym for the greater benefit of having more intense (and supportive) workouts.
  2. of those people, try to spot those who have a sense of what they’re doing (i.e. the guy in the lycra short-shorts doing tricep kickbacks with a 2.5lb weight while wearing a belt is probably not your best choice). or, even better, see if there’s an eager newbie whose willing to spend the time in the gym and learn from you. you may even learn a lot from him/her!
  3. when my friends wanted to go the gym with me, i was and am only able to train with a select few. why? a lot of people see the gym as some kind of social arena. you can be having beer or lifting weights - it doesn’t really matter to them. it’s just hanging out. i once had to tell a friend of mine to shut up and lift the weight because he spent 5 mins telling me a story between sets! if you’re serious in the gym, you need someone just as serious or even moreso. hard to find that in friends whose priorities in the gym you already know.
  4. as enticing as it may seem, training with a girl is probably not your best option. unless she is a true T-vixen, most aren’t willing to do some of the things you do, and are not as confident in spotting you with some of the weights you are lifting (you may even lose confidence in going heavier as well!). unless her name is Patricia, or has larger arms than you, i would probably try to choose a guy with a similar build (or larger one).
  5. can’t find one still? just ask politely. personally, as much as i want to focus on myself in the gym, it doesn’t hurt to help others when they need it. you are all reaching for strength/size/fitness goals together, why not be helpful as opposed to hurtful (or just plain cranky for that matter).
  6. as a last resort, see if you can post a kind of help wanted note at your gym seeing if there are other people in your situation as well. some guy who works out an hour before you might be asking the same questions your asking. again, avoid anything lycra.

good luck.

Thanks Big D. That helps a lot. -J

Don’t underestimate the friends that are showing some vague interest. I have trained with several friends that had never been inside a gym before and they were all very good training partners. They lasted an average of about a year which is not bad.

You get to teach them about training and how to spot etc and they get to train without the intimidation that newbies feel for the first few months.

Most people stop going to gym because of fear or frustration and training with someone experienced is the best way to overcome those problems.

Find out which friend is the least vague and take them along. You probably won’t regret it.

I find the workouts with a partner are more enjoyable. However, if you don’t have the exact same physique goals, expect to be disappointed.

Finding a newbie at the gym helps. I am training with one right now (due to conflicting schedules, he only works with me three times a week) It helps having him around because I train harder and with better form so I do not teach him bad habits. I’ve also had to do some homework to build diets and workouts for him, so it has benefits there too.