Workout buddies – with or without them?

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It’s a recurring question whether it’s better to work out with a workout buddy or without one, crushing it hard at the gym as a lonely wolf.

Well, as a first reaction, you might say that a workout becomes a hundred times more efficient if you have a partner. Why?

  • Because workout buddies help you through the periods of stagnation, which you wouldn’t be able to do alone neither physically, nor psychologically.
  • Because workout partners can motivate you and hype you up, but they can also kick your ass if need be.
  • Because workout buddies – if they are dedicated enough – won’t miss a single training, consequently, you won’t have the nerve to do so either, even if you’re having a bad day
  • Because workout buddies might notice the mistakes that you don’t necessarily spot, even when using a mirror – if there is one in the gym
  • Because you can work out much more safely in the company of a workout partner, as they are next to you during risky sets and make modifications during the exercise if it’s necessary. But only then!
  • Because workout partners drag and carry you along the way, even if you are sick of it all. With a partner, you won’t be slacking during your workout ever again.
  • Because a good workout buddy will become your friend outside the gym too anyway – unless you started working out together as friends, then this point is not applicable to you.

A good workout partner with whom you hit it off can help you reach your full potential and finish every workout session, feeling: “this was worth coming for”. One has to consider, however, that these arguments are only in favour of having a workout buddy if the statements are actually valid...

The other side of the coin

Indeed, a workout partner is sometimes rather a curse than a blessing. For the sake of credibility, let’s see what it’s like when having a workout buddy is more negative than positive.

  • Because bad workout buddies not only DON’T help you through stagnation, but they also drag you down with their “can’t-do attitude”
  • Because bad workout buddies don’t know how to motivate you, they simply assists you, being there as a body, but not as a person, or – in the worst case – rattle on about all kinds of crap.
  • Because bad workout partners don’t give a shit about whether it’s workout day or not: they will easily skip a day or two depending on their daily mood. Or worse: they will pressure you to slack along
  • Because bad workout buddies not only DON’T notice your mistakes, but also encourage you to do the exercise inappropriately, since they heard that cheating makes you big, which means that you must yank around weights as well (plus, they don’t know when cheating CAN be used as a technique). But yeah, some might say it’s romantic to get injured together...
  • Because bad workout buddies have no freaking idea when to get involved in an exercise, and to what extent. They pull/press instead of you, and you have no real idea of how much you achieved during the given session, or they let you suffer under the weight until you’re severely injured because that’s SO hardcore.
  • Because bad workout partners will chit-chat throughout the whole workout without a care, instead of focusing on your shared goals. This doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to exchange a word or two, but if you push it hard, taking the exercises in turn, you won’t have the energy for this to begin with.

Even if one of these conditions are met, it is questionable whether you should be having a workout buddy. If several of these are true in your case, RUN – that is, if you intend to do this whole thing seriously. Then you’re better off working out alone. That’s also fun, and it also allows you to challenge yourself, not just your muscles.

The truth is, one needs a magnifier glass to find a good workout partner. The number of possible partners is already decimated by the necessity of having a similar daily schedule, otherwise you’ll never make it to the gym.

Then there is the “factor of improvement”, in other words: the need to be on approximately the same level as your partner. If you press with 100 and your partner with 50, you won’t find a lot of motivation – except to move around weights constantly. You’ll be more like a teacher, which is – although an uplifting and useful responsibility – hardly beneficial in terms of your own improvement, since you spend your whole workout supporting the other, while having no one to support you.

Finally, it’s also nice if you like the other person, as you won’t be able to work out efficiently with someone whom you hate or who you don’t get on well with, or with someone who bores you.

Long story short, finding a good workout buddy is as hard as finding the appropriate partner for life. Fortunately, if things don’t work out, the “break-up” is much easier and much less painful than in the case of traditional relationships. :)

And, similarly to relationships, if you find the right workout partner, they will be by your side for better or for worse. Albeit not “until death do you part”, a workout buddy will support your sports career in a way that will leave you with nice memories for the rest of your life.

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