Training Partners: Friend or Foe?

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In gyms and on bodybuilding forums, it is a fairly common occurrence that a lack of gains is attributed to not having a training partner. Is this really the case though? Is having a training partner an important piece of the gaining muscle jigsaw? Below, we look at the positives and negatives of training partners in an attempt to find out if they’re friend or foe…


Positive: Without doubt, if you’re trying to get extra reps out on the bench press, someone to spot you is essential. There’s nothing more embarrassing (as well as painful and potentially dangerous!) than being buried underneath a failed bench press attempt.

A spotter’s benefit isn’t confined to the bench press; whether it’s getting heavy dumbbells in place, reassurance for heavy squats or providing a bit of assistance on the lat pull-down, a good spotter can help you push yourself that little bit harder.

Negative: Someone who can’t spot properly is really infuriating! Picture the scene: you’ve been psyching yourself up all week for a personal best bench attempt; you’re one rep away from your personal best, when your training partner lifts the bar while saying “it’s all you!”


Positive: If you’re having a bad day and really not feeling ‘up for it’ a motivated training partner can do wonders. They can help to push you through rep by rep, set by set, ensuring you get all you can out of the session. When you feel like stopping, a training partner motivating you to get one, two or three extra reps is helping you create extra stimulus for growth.

Negative: An unmotivated training partner can drag you down. If your training partner is regularly late, cancelling sessions for no reason or is more interesting in checking out the ‘talent’ than training, it will only serve to be a major distraction.

Exercise Variety

Positive: If you train on your own, it can be easy to fall into a routine doing the same exercises month after month. A training partner can introduce new exercises or reintroduce exercises that you’ve simply got out of the habit of doing.

Negative: Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to like the difficult exercises! It can be difficult to find a training partner who wants to squat, deadlift, bent over row, etc. If your training partner is always making excuses why they can’t do certain exercises, you may find yourself getting frustrated pretty quickly!

Goal Setting

Positive: Sharing a goal with someone can help drive both of you on. Naturally, there will be an element of friendly rivalry which will see you push yourself harder in the gym. Having someone who can relate to your goals and support you when the going gets tough is an invaluable resource. Outside of the gym, people may not understand your goals; having a training partner who does can be a real help.

Negative: If you’ve different goals to your training partner, it can be difficult structuring training sessions to suit you both – there will be some inevitable sacrifice. Even worse, your training partner may have no goals at all! If that’s the case, it may be time to look for a new training partner!

It’s clear to see that there is a clear differentiating factor that hasn’t been mentioned: a good training partner and a rubbish one! While that point is obvious, it does seem to escape some people. If you feel that your training partner isn’t bringing much to the party, perhaps it’s time to get a new one? Or even train on your own? If you’ve got goals, then you should be able to motivate yourself.

If you feel your training partner isn’t contributing much, it’s better flying solo than having a training partner just for the sake of it. A training partner should be a friend, not a foe, and a great training partner is worth their weight in gold.

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