Buddhist quote: “When given the opportunity to travel with your greaters, travel with your greaters.
When given the opportunity to travel with your equals, travel with your equals.
When given the opportunity to travel with your lesser, travel alone.
Like a king without a kingdom, like a large elephant through the jungle.” – THE DHAMMAPADA
The Hop, Pookie Monster, The Max, Tweak, (Super) Mario, Murderface, Jaked, Pruter, Reko, Kuipes, Killaman, Rickert and the list goes on of some of the best training partners I have ever had. A good training partner is much like all good relationships you will have in your life. They don’t need to be the same type of person as you (and that is a good thing), but your mutual interests allow you to push each other to levels you wouldn’t have attained as quickly without one another. A good training partner also will call you out when you aren’t pulling your weight, and let you know when you are doing things incorrectly. Now you don’t need to be best friends with your training partner, but there should be these following aspects in common:
Consistency – I couldn’t care less about how strong a training partner is, but I sure as hell care if they show up. They don’t need to be the greatest athlete, have the best “genetics” or “talent” (I’ll talk about that a bit later on), they just have to be there. You have to know that they will always be there. Unless they are sick or dying you will never get stood up. A training partner who misses two training sessions for anything short of a prison sentence or glorious path of vengeance is no longer training with me. Your goal is to have a symbiotic relationship, not for them to be an energy vampire for you. (I’m guilty as hell for missing hill sprints, sorry again Tweak and Cue)
Intensity – they don’t need to be the world’s biggest sociopath, but when weights get heavy, when the work gets hard, they can bring something out to do battle. Most people who train with me think I’m a bit goofy. I like to joke around. I like to have fun in between sets. When it is time to hoist the heavy iron, I get dark and mean. That’s what you are looking for. One of my best training partners would get out of his mind for heavy deadlifts to the song: “father of mine” by Everclear. That was both inspirational and terrifying (check the lyrics to the song if you have questions). The rage burning in his eyes as he stepped up to the bar is something I will always remember. Needless to say I didn’t want to ask about the personal meaning of it to him. Another would attack weight to Katy Perry. I believe that Louie Simmons said it best when he said: “I won’t train with someone if I’m not at least a little afraid of them” especially when it is time to throw down.
Honesty – not that there is anything wrong with being a cheerleader (I was a collegiate one for a number of years), that isn’t what you want as a training partner. If your technique sucked, if you squatted high, if you are not working hard you want someone to level with you and let you know what is what. The goal is to get better, not play to our ego (for the love of god don’t stare at yourself in the mirrors when you train) so you want someone who can give you honest feedback. My best training partners are people that I still send my workouts to so they can audit them and when I see them in person I get feedback on my technique from them. Find someone that can do this for you.
Personal hygiene, working vocabulary, political identity, and religion means nothing in the gym. Those shouldn’t be deal breakers for who you train with (seriously knee sleeves will always smell bad). You can have great conversations about all of the above, but as long as those top three are getting met you’re good to go. I can’t stress enough how much this can be helpful in the long run. My best progress has always been related to times where I had a consistent training partner or team I was training with. Not everyone needs to have someone there to train with them and that is fine. The lone wolf rides alone. Most people will do good to train with someone. Please comment about any good training partners you have had or experience with it