EDGE Magazine: The Buddy System
If you’re finding it difficult to stick to that exercise plan you made at the start of the year, if your interest has waned or the winter weather has got you down, have you considered the difference that having a work out buddy could make to your training? Workout partners are a great tool for a successful gym experience; just look around you the next time you are training and you’ll see that many people work out with a friend or even a group of friends. Maybe it’s time to forgo going solo and invite over some company.
- The Partnership. It’s important to choose the right friend with whom you will be training. Not everyone is good at group training and if you pick a bud who doesn’t take direction well, you may find yourself working out with someone who’s got their back up all the time. Pick a close friend who has a mindset like yours who will find it fun to have some companionship and who will appreciate an extra pair of eyes to keep their form perfect, someone who will know when they will need help with that last rep, a friend who will laugh and talk between sets but stay focused when lifting.
- The Routine. Confer with your new partner regarding the scheduling of your sessions. Find a time that is mutually schedule-able and not a time that is likely to leave one of you continually cancelling. Sandwiching your training in between all the other activities in your day does both of your training a disservice. It is easier to stick to something regimented, so look at working out at the same time every day. If you know that your friend is going to get up at five am and travel to the gym, if you know that your mate will be waiting for you after work you will show up for them as much as for yourself. After a little time passes, you will notice that you don’t have to think about it; the routine becomes second nature and you just get up and go.
- The Training. When first you begin working out with your gym spouse, talk about your mutual goals and where each of you would like your training to go. Find the areas in which you both would like to grow and those in which you both have strengths to share with the other. This will insure that you are both challenged and will learn new things; it also gives each of you a sense of empowerment because you know you have something to teach, to share. Do some research online to find exercises that require two people. You don’t even have to go online for this: look around the room and see what others are doing and try out those moves. Observing something new at the gym, figuring it out and applying it to your workouts will be a bonding experience that, greatly, satisfies you both.
- The Progress. When we train we do have specific goals in mind and when we get there, it’s great to have someone with whom to celebrate. A posting on social media that you reached your goal weight or achieved more mass is less satisfying than a high five with your bestie. When you two begin your training, share everything. Weigh in together and take each other’s measurements. Do this regularly and it will help you both to be accountable to yourself and to each other. It will also give you incentive. You want to look good in front of your chum? You want to grow at a rate similar to your pal? Nothing adds incentive quite like a little healthy competition; except a little healthy encouragement. Charting your progress with your best mate will bring both to your workouts.
- The Push. Different people need different motivation. Discover what will push each of you to do your best work at the gym. You will notice that some workout duos or groups at the gym cheer at each other while others yell at one another. You will see workout partners who train while each is wearing headphones; the company is all they need – the company between sets, that is. There are people who just need a calm voice to say “you can do this” when they are on their last two reps of their fourth set, while others need to see your helpful hands on the bar in order to push that final bench press up. Everyone is different – and on different days, too. Be prepared to change your motivational influence when your friend shows up in a bad mood. They may want to eschew the positive feedback in favor of some gunny sergeant yelling. Or they may want to train in relative silence, as opposed to the usual gossiping. When you are working out with a close friend, they can be whoever they feel like being and know that you aren’t judging them. Frankly, so can you, too. Find the healthiest ways to communicate and motivate and you will both win in the end.
The real reward that comes from training with a buddy is more than having a successful gym life and gaining a great body (both, super important): it’s the time spent together with someone you care about, someone whose presence makes your life better. It’s a win-win training system.