Should you dump your crappy training partners?

We are all a product of our environment.


Birds of a feather flock together.



If you've been training for some time, you know what I'm writing about. You either spend a lot of your time training alone or in small groups, or with one training partner or several training partners. If you're really serious about it, you may actually end up having several training partners over a period of a week, just due to time schedule and the commitment levels of those you're training with. Other times you'll find yourself, you may be training in small groups, this is more popular with power lifters and strength athletes, however, there comes a time when you may have to make a decision to leave the group or to ax somebody from the group, or to simply put it, to get rid of your crappy training partners.


The Lists

You need to create two separate lists.

The first list would be noting those things you simply will not tolerate. This is going to be different for everybody. I know some people that I've trained with that have OCD so bad that if you don't put the weights back exactly how they're supposed to be, they're just going to go absolutely bananas. Those people aren't going to do well training with somebody who's just going to throw their shit around and leave it lay. Other people can't stand if they're training with somebody and they have their headphones on the entire time. Some people can't stand if somebody's text messaging people throughout the training sessions. Some people can't stand those who take extremely long breaks between sets. Some people can't stand people who don't rest long enough between sets.


Everybody has a list of preferences that they feel that they need to be able to have a great training session. Create a list of the things that you just absolutely will not tolerate. Once you have that list, then you have an idea of who you do want to train with, who you don't want to train with, that way you can end that relationship sooner than later. When you're dealing with this list of things that you will not tolerate, I personally suggest you don't even give the warning. If it's something that's on this list, just move on, get rid of them, move on to the next person because it's not worth it.
The second list are the things that you feel that you need to be able to become better. This can be from a body building standpoint, power lifting standpoint, strongman standpoint, any strength point, or any strength sport standpoint. What are your weaknesses and what do you need to do to get better? Be honest with yourself on that. With this, make a list of what your strengths are.


Also, What do you bring to the table? What you'll be able to offer somebody else. What opportunities do you bring? Outside of strengths, what opportunities exist that can create in a dynamic of you being involved with the training group, and then what are the threats that you could bring to the training group.


Basically this is just a SWOT analysis of yourself when it comes to training, and when I say threats I'm not talking about beating somebody's ass in the middle of the gym, but if you work a job that you're routinely going to be a half hour or an hour late all the time, is that going to impact the training group? Are they cool with that? Are they not cool with that? These are things that you'll need to let them know if you're going to become part of that group, or even if you are part of that group because some groups will be cool with that, other groups are going to see it as a complete total lack of commitment on your part because you're not willing to tell your boss, "Fuck off," you need to go train.


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Three Main Things To Look For In Training Partners

There are some things you need to look for, and this is in regards to the group as a whole and yourself. These are three things that I feel are extremely vital to the success of you as a strength athlete, you as a training partner, your training group, and the training partners, plural, that you may end up training with.

More Experience Than You

You need to look for training partners who have more training age and experience than you do. I didn't say education, I'm talking under the bar training age, how many years have they been doing it seriously, and experience. People who know how to perform the movements correctly, all of the movements, not just the main movements, but the accessories. People who know how to tweak the movement to be able to allow you to get the best out of it. People who know how to tweak the movement to be able to allow you to get a little bit more strength out of it. People who have an eye for when things are breaking down. People who have an eye to know when somebody's holding back and should push harder, and people who have an eye for somebody who's pushing too hard and needs to be pulled back.
You're not going to find this in a younger lifter. You're not going to find this in a lifter who doesn't have, I would say, at least ten years training age, or ten years of serious training. I'm not saying it's not possible, but what I am saying is it's highly unlikely. Regardless though, if you only have one year of training age, and you find somebody who's got three, that's a good enough fit for you right now. The thing with training partners is they're a lot like girlfriends. You either stay with them for a long time because they're really good and they complement you tremendously or you get rid of them. If you have a training partner who's only got three years of that training age, and he's really not that good, and then later down the line you find somebody who's got ten years of that training age, dump the person with the three years. It may sound cruel, but you got to do what you got to do to be able to advance yourself into the sport and move forward, plus that person could fill a different role.

The Same Level As You

The second person you want to have involved in your group is somebody who's at the same level you're at. This is going to provide that fire, it's going to provide competition, it's going to provide you to be able to push harder, it's going to provide you to try to want to learn a little bit more because you're always going to be in battle to try to get a little bit better, and because you're at the same level, you're going to be learning the same things. You're going to have somebody to be able to discuss this with that is going to make it easier to understand because sometimes when the person who's got many training years above you explains something to you, it may not make sense, but it may make sense to the person who's got the same experience that you do, who's part of your group, and then they can explain it to you in a different way that makes sense to you. Having somebody with the same experience you do is also extremely important.


Less Experience Than You

The last person you want to have part of your group is somebody who doesn't have as much experience as you do, somebody that you can help teach to become better because the more you teach, the better you learn. Aside from giving back to the sport and helping to grow the strength sports, and essentially just doing a good thing and passing on, this passing on will reinforce all the things that you're being taught from the people above you, and it's going to make you a better lifter, and it's actually going to make you a better coach because, as I said, when you teach, you are learning and you're reinforcing those things that you've been taught. Having a group composed of those three people is vital to how fast you'll be able to move forward, how fast you're going to progress, and how quickly the gains are going to come.


This by no ways means that you can't do it on your own. We live in a different age now. These people could be internet friends, Facebook buddies, or whatever you want to call them, that you communicate with. Do I think it's as effective as training with the people face-to-face? Hell no. Not at all. I don't even think it's close, but I do think it's better than nothing. That's the network that you should build, and if you don't have people that are filling those roles, and they're filling different roles that go against the things that you're looking for, and agree with all the things you won't tolerate, then you got to get rid of them. When you're dealing with a group dynamic, or a training group of five to six people, everybody in that group should have somebody better than them, should have somebody equal to them, and should have somebody underneath them.


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