I believe it was the late, great, Charles Poliquin who said “there is nothing more anabolic than a good training partner.” Having had some of the world’s greatest as training partners, I can attest to that sentiment. But living an atypical nomadic lifestyle has torn me from the comfort and convenience of a familiar gym, with familiar training partners, and left me in less than ideal gyms, in less than ideal circumstances. Here are the advantages of training with a partner and training solo.
Training Partner Pros
We All Have Those DaysThere are some days where the weights just feel heavy like someone forgot to turn the magnet off and the iron is pulled to the floor. This is all in your head of course, especially if you’re meticulous with your preparation, programming, and recovery. You need a word of encouragement or even sometimes a condescending voice to call you out on your shit. A good training partner is like a good coach—he knows how to get the most out of you.
Tells You What You Need To HearA good training partner in the gym can be like a good cornerman in the ring, like Mick to Rocky or Cus to Tyson. A good training partner knows how to get you up, but more importantly—as your career as a lifter evolves—when to throw in the towel. Keeping hindsight in mind, a good training partner will tell you what you need to hear… not what you want to hear.
Training Solo Pros
How Bad Do You Love It?With the prevalence of bullshit self-help books and pseudo-famous fitspirational hacks on social media, there’s going to come a time when you have to decide what path to take. When that 4:30 a.m. alarm sounds, not all the discipline books or social media praise in the world will get you out of bed for a workout, not unless you love it. One of the best parts about training by yourself is the simple, resounding fact that no one care.
Remember that. No one cares. So if those feet hit the floor and you commit to clang and bang while the sun takes its sweet time to rise, at the very least you know you love it. And it’s that love for training that will sustain you. You can only find that when it’s just you and the weights.
Set the PaceYou gotta strike while the iron’s hot. Somedays it’s a great freedom not having a pace car. No stop-and-go, no water breaks or small talk. Just full throttle, headphones in and work. On days where everything is right, training solo can be an awesome way to turn up the horsepower.
ConclusionIf I’m being honest, oftentimes I don’t have a choice whether or not I’m training with a partner or training solo. If a colleague or client wants to jump in on a session, then I’m obliged to facilitate. And sometimes that 4 a.m. solo workout before the next plane takes off is the only time for a session that day.
But what I do have control over is how I react to each situation. I choose to find the positive in whatever situation I’m in, both in and out of the gym. I challenge you to do the same. At the end of the day, you don’t HAVE to train, you GET to train. How lucky are you?
Don’t ever forget that.