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5 Key Traits to Look For in a Workout Partner

Posted April 22, 2011 by

Having another person to work out with is a great benefit for many reasons, not the least of which are the social and motivational aspects. However, just as a good workout partner can motivate you to hit the gym consistently and with a lot of focus and intensity, the wrong workout partner can lead to a lack of motivation, a lack of focus and even a lack of results or injury. Choosing the correct partner is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly and yet most people simply go with whichever friend(s) that they can convince to hit the gym with them. Is this really the best way to approach such an important subject?

If you’re looking for a new person to workout with, then the various prerequisites that I’ve laid out below should help you in your quest. If you already have a workout buddy, you should still evaluate them on the following points and ensure that they are of benefit to your fitness program. Before I touch on the qualities that make an ideal workout partner, I would just like to say that I think any more than ONE workout partner is TOO MANY. You have to keep in mind that ideal rest periods between sets is typically 60 seconds or less, which isn’t going to be enough time if you have to wait for two or more people to work in between your sets. Obviously, this point is moot in a group fitness setting, but even in this setting it is STILL crucial (perhaps more so, in fact) for each participant to have similar traits as outlined below. This is why it is important to choose a group fitness program with a targeted client base and a focused program, such as my women’s athletic bootcamp.

Key Trait #1: A Similar Schedule

This one should go without saying, but it’s crucial that your workout partner’s schedule is similar to yours. If you work early in the morning and your partner doesn’t typically wake up till 11:00am, then it’s going to be hard to find a mutual time that works, and more than likely one of you will be working out at a time that you don’t prefer. Remember, our bodies subtly push us towards their preferences, so if you find that you prefer working out in the evening, then more than likely your BODY itself feels the strongest and most energetic during this time. The same goes for morning workouts, or any other time of the day. Forcing yourself to work out late at night to cater to a partner’s differing schedule when you’d rather work out in the morning can result in sub-par workouts and crappy results.

Key Trait #2: Similar Goals

If your goal is to lose a lot of weight, you should find someone who has the same goal to partner up with, and ditto if your goal is to gain muscle, increase performance, or any other goal. As I’ve said before, different goals call for different training styles; thus, as someone looking to lose weight, if you were to partner with someone who’s goal was to gain muscle for instance, one or both of you would end up performing inappropriate exercises for your goal (unless you performed separate exercises, which would completely defeat the purpose of working out together!). In addition, your weight loss nutrition program would be vastly different from their muscle gain nutrition plan and you’d miss out on the bonus benefit of sticking to a similar nutrition plan which can be very motivating.

Key Trait #3: Healthy Habits

People tend to adopt habits of those with whom they associate, and this type of relationship is no different. If your workout partner is a smoker, or has a fast-food addiction, or partakes in steroid use, you’re going to be constantly bombarded with subconscious (or blatant) encouragement to adopt the same behaviors. On the flip side, a workout partner who practices excellent nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyle habits is going to influence you in a beneficial way.

Key Trait #4: Strong Focus

This tip is aimed at women in particular (although some men are guilty of this as well). Women tend to be more social during workouts than men, often resulting in a lot of “chatting” rather than “working out.” Unless your goal is to exercise your jaw muscles, you’re best off to find someone who keeps idle chatter to a minimum, instead focusing on keeping the workout moving forward and keeping you both in a mindset to push the intensity as much as possible. There’s nothing wrong with socializing, but if you limit it to the locker room before and after the workout, you’re going to find your workouts not only take much less time, but are much more effective as well.

Key Trait #5: Similar Strength/Performance Level

I put this trait last because I believe that if all the other traits are fulfilled, this one is ok to ignore. That being said, it makes the workout much more efficient if you don’t have to spend a lot of time adding or subtracting weight between partners’ sets, or have to substitute completely separate exercises due to an inability for one of the partners to perform specific movements.

Ideally, your workout partner would embody each of these traits, resulting in someone similar to you in terms of the direction they’re going with their fitness program, and who will serve to motivate you to stay consistent and on track. Don’t forget, this is a mutual relationship and you should be committed to helping them benefit as much as you are benefiting! A great partnership can make a HUGE difference in the results that both individuals attain from their efforts. Find a good workout partner, and I guarantee that you will wonder how you ever did without one in the first place!

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