Having a gym buddy can be a cursing or a blessing. It really depends on what kind of person you and your gym buddy are. If done correctly having a gym buddy can really help to get you to go to the gym more often and even be more effective with your workouts when you are there. A friendship outside of the iron paradise can even blossom from it. But if done incorrectly you and your gym bro could end up avoiding the gym like it is the plague. With that being said here are my pros and cons of having a gym buddy:
You will always have a spotter
For some exercises a spotter is incredibly important for safety reasons especially if you are trying to hit a new personal record (PR). These exercises include squats, bench press, and shoulder press. Getting caught in a situation where you’ve completed the downward motion of a rep but cannot complete the upward could result in injury. If you are working out alone you could also begin to develop bad form habits that you may be unaware of. But with your gym buddy there you will be safe, sound, and have better form. Also with a spotter present extra reps can be pumped out in the form of negatives or partials, two effective muscle building techniques that I have mentioned in the post Keys to a Better Pump. So not only will a gym buddy help to keep you safe but he can also help you to reach your lifting goals.
This one can be a double-edged sword. One week your partner could be dying to go to the gym but then the next week they may be begging you not to go. In an ideal situation you and your gym buddy would feed off of each other’s motivation. If one day you are not feeling the gym your gym buddy could help to encourage you to go. Another day you might motivate your gym buddy to go. It creates a beautiful perpetual cycle of gymming and increases your commitment to regular workouts immensely. Competition with your gym buddy can also be used to up the intensity of your workouts. Things like burpees, or push up competitions are a great way to finish a workout hard. It is one thing to let yourself down by not going to the gym. But letting your gym buddy down is a little more difficult. If your gym buddy makes you feel this way then you have got a good thing going.
Workouts take longer
This was the main reason I stopped going to the gym with other people. I have a set amount of time that I like to rest for. If I am waiting for someone to finish their set so that I can begin my again it throws off the timing for my rest period. Add this to the chitchat that does occasionally happen and the other things you may distract each other with and you have a recipe for a workout that is taking longer than it should. To avoid this from happening tell your gym buddy before your workout that you do not want to take too long. Just like working out on your own, if you time your rests and are focused you should not take longer than you need.
Changing it up
Your gym buddies workouts may be different from what you are used to. Trying what they are used to for a while then switching to your normal routine could be very beneficial for gains. Gains are more easily achieved when the body is put through movements that it is not used to. This forces your body to adapt to these changes thus getting stronger in the process. So, if your workout buddy gets their sweat on in a different way from you, embrace it. Sometimes change is a good thing especially when it comes to getting active.
With all this in mind here are some things to consider when deciding who would be an ideal gym buddy:
- Their intentions are roughly the same as yours. You don’t want to start working out with someone that is trying to train for a marathon if you are trying to put on mass. If you like to lift weights find someone who also likes to do so and will help you to achieve your goals.
- Their schedule is relatively similar to your own. It would be tough to motivate each other to go workout if you both are only able to go together once a week. If you are a morning person find someone who is also a morning person.
- Your best bet is someone that already uses the same gym as you. Switching gyms to start working out with someone is a bit risky and could be costly or inconvenient for you.
- Know whom you are asking. If they have tried and failed at the same New Years resolution years and years in a row chances are they are not going to be the best person to rely on for motivation. If you want to be a good person and help them out by all means do so. But just note that an inexperienced lifter will not be able to do as much as an experienced one can and doing too much too soon could result in injury.
- Do not commit to anything long term until you have tried working out with the person. The most ideal may end up being the worst one due to factors that you did not take into consideration or did not know before hand.
- Make sure you actually like the person. Even if they fit all of the above criteria getting a gym buddy that you do not like will not motivate you to go to the gym more. In fact it will likely do the opposite. There is a reason it is called a “gym buddy” and not a “person you go to the gym with”.