The training partner

Online coaching is an exercise in simulation. After collecting all the relevant information from the client, each prescribed exercise is rehearsed in my head. I have to imagine exactly how that person will execute that exercise in that specific gym, with that specific equipment.

If this client is strong, is becoming strong or is training with that purpose, the intensities in which having more safety is essential are inevitable.

If you are a strength athlete, I know what you did last summer because I did it too: I benched and failed the second rep of a max weight twice my bodyweight alone, with owls singing outside at 1 AM. The safety pins on the rack saved me. It sucks because you have to reset everything but it beats being dead. I squatted over 3 times my bodyweight in wraps and forgot that we had forgotten to screw the rack on the platform. It took me three attempts to finally rack the bar. I squatted on someone else's rack with a crooked lip, the bar slipped and completely destroyed my left knee during the accident. I bet the list of stupid shit lifters did alone would fill several volumes of the Encyclopedia of Stupid Shit.

I paid the price and it was worth it: scars and all, I'm alive and I had fun and success. Like you, I know how to dump the squat bar if I know I will fail. Like you, I had enough close calls on the bench press to not take chances.

What about our clients? They are eager to learn and to improve. Let's be honest: not all safety systems in the world will protect an inexperienced person. I highly recommend the self spotting equipment and always, always, using safety pins and face-savers.

I always negotiate (and insist on) the presence of a training partner for the novice lifter who will test their maximum strength (or close to it) for the first time.

I took two polls in a raw lifting group I manage on Facebook about whether they had regular training partners before the quarantine and whether it changed their training habits. It's a group with predominantly older and more experienced participants. Sometimes they comment on how convenient it would be to have a training partner "again".

training partner

This is not a sample of powerlifters and not even a sample of raw lifters. It is just a large group (over 5K members) and the most experienced lifters seem to handle their training alone.

I remember, over a decade ago when an experienced lifter told me he had decided to go raw because making arrangements that worked for all training partners became impossible.

Indeed, it's possible to follow even an elite level training protocol completely alone, with the owls for company. Not at the novice level, though. The number of things that can go wrong is huge.

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