I have trained for almost 40 years. In those 40 years, I have only trained with five people, consistently. The total amount of time I have consistently worked with a training partner is right around 8 years. That means for roughly 30 years, I have trained by myself, and that's the way I prefer it.
To be fair to the people I did consistently train with, I absolutely enjoyed it and I benefitted from it, or I wouldn't have trained with them for so long. I enjoyed training with Jimmy Kennedy (NFL defensive tackle) for the 6 years we worked together. It was always a challenge to keep up with him in the strength department. He was incredibly reliable and consistent—you know, like a professional athlete would be. I equally enjoyed training with my wife in the early years because she trained very hard, was also reliable and consistent, and I liked to see her naked (unlike Jimmy). It gave my wife and I more time together and gave us something to do as a "team." Outside of these two (of the 5), I doubt I would ever go back and train with any of those people again.
No Give And Take
When you train with someone else, you have to give and take. I don't like to "give." I have been training for a very long time, and I can read my body like most people can't. Prior to going into the gym on any given day, I can tell if one exercise is going to feel better than another before doing even one rep of a warm-up set. If you think that's silly and that can't happen, you don't know your body as well as I do. Get more years of training under you belt and you'll come back and tell me that I am right. I know what I need to do in the gym and I'm not willing to be flexible.
As structured as I am, I sometimes have things that come up and I have to train either at a different gym or at a different time—sometimes, even on a different day. If I expect a training partner to be consistent and reliable, it would only be fair for me to be the same way. I can't do that, so that is the number one reason that I don't like training with someone.
I also do a lot of shit that most people don't want to do or don't need to do. I very literally HAVE to stretch prior to training back or legs. I know it's popular to go against stretching these days, but I know my body and I have remained injury-free with my lower back for almost 8 years. The only reason I have remained injury-free is because I have stretched, religiously, for those 8 years. It takes me 20-25 minutes to stretch prior to training back and legs. I absolutely cannot and will not train those muscle groups without stretching. If I don't have time to stretch, I don't train. If you were forced to shit standing up in the shower after a back injury, you would understand.
Sometimes, I train at different gyms based on which gym is best equipped for the muscle group(s) I am training that day. Try getting a training partner to meet you at different gyms based on your preference for that day. Outside of my wife, no one else has ever been open to doing that.
Unscheduled Rest Days
Though it doesn't happen very often, I am not one of those people who believes that because it's a scheduled training day, I have to train—no matter what. That's 20-something bullshit. I could push through a workout if I felt like shit or was exhausted when I was 28. I'm 52-fucking-years old, and I'm not going to train if I feel overtrained, if I'm exhausted from a night or two of shitty sleep, or I have a tweak that tells me I need an extra day of rest. I'm far too intuitive these days, and I'm not willing to risk an injury just to get workout number 17,922 on the books. There are far too many things that can go wrong at 52 when you try to force a workout that could take place the following day. Training partners don't typically like when you call a rest day when you feel like it. Of course, I would not be cool if my training partner called a rest day, either, in fairness. That's just one more reason I don't like training with someone.
Deload or cruise weeks are an integral part of my training periodization. However, they aren't structured or scheduled ahead of time, so I may not know that I need a cruise week until a few days prior. Deload or cruise weeks are very individual. If I need one, my training partner likely may not. When he or she needs one, I probably don't. It just gets too difficult and tricky to schedule things like this when you have a training partner. In fact, I bet if you asked almost anyone who has a training partner, they likely don't deload or cruise. They bang week in and week out without any breaks unless they are forced out of the gym due to sickness or injury. I refuse to do that.
My travel schedule is not anywhere near as hectic as it used to be, but I do like to travel to see our kids, go to clients' shows, travel to train with clients, or go on vacation with my wife. This adds yet another variable to the training-partner equation.
When I train by myself, I have total control over everything. I don't have to apologize to anyone, and I don't have to justify my decisions or even explain them. I have a reason for every single thing I do in the gym, but I do not like to explain myself. I also am not a punctual person (though I'm better than I ever have been prior to turning 50). I am rarely on time for anything (ask Jimmy Kennedy). I am not USED to being on time because I have worked online for 20 years. Only recently have I consistently trained people one-on-one at TITAN GYM in Fort Lauderdale, and this is the only reason I have become better at being on time. I purposely wrote a provision into my client contracts that state very clearly that if I am late more than 2 minutes, the session is free. I knew this was the one way I could get my ass to be on time. Having to be on time to meet a training partner would add another stress to my day that I don't have to worry about when I train by myself.
The only thing I think that I do miss by not training with someone is that I can't feed off of them; I don't have someone to compete with. At the same time, if I can't motivate myself to train hard after training for as long as I have, I should probably stay home, watch Netflix, and eat Cheetos. If you ever run into me at the gym and we are both getting ready to train, don't ask me what I am training because I won't answer you. Instead, I will ask YOU what you are training, and I will then lie if you are training what I plan to train. This way, I know you won't ask if we can train together. Remember, I've been around a while. I know all of the tricks. 🙂
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