A training partner can be a great addition to your workouts, but there are some criteria that must be met before allowing that person to come on board.
1.) Similar Goals: If the person you are working out with does not have the same goals as you, the workouts are not going to be beneficial for both parties. For instance, if you are trying to add muscle and your partner it trying to drop fat, the workouts will not be congruent. It is your fitness goal that should influence the design of your workout.
2.) Similar body type: Your body type is one of the things largely responsible for how you respond to exercise in general and more specifically, it is responsible for how certain exercises feel. In other words, we're talking about your genetic makeup. A person with long limbs should be able to deadlift effectively while a person with short limbs should be able to bench press or squat effectively. This is due to the biomechanics of our levers (arm and leg length). Men and women have totally different builds, along with totally different hormonal makeups. Having a training partner of the opposite sex rarely works well.
3.) Similar level of seriousness: This is a big one. If the person you are working out with doesn't have the same fire burning inside them as you do, they are going to hold you back in your workouts. If accomplishing your fitness goals are very important to you, then don't waste your time with someone who is looking for a social outlet in their workouts. If you can talk comfortably while working out, the intensity is too low and you're not focused on the workout itself.
4.) Similar level of fitness: This is referring to the kind of shape a person is in. Even if the above three criteria are met, a deconditioned training partner is not going to be able to keep up with you. Your training partner should be on your level of fitness or slightly out in front of you to keep you motivated and hungry to get better.
5.) Similar schedule: If you respond best to morning workouts and your training partner prefers to workout in the evening, it is not going to work. Especially in a fast-paced society, getting your workout done and over with is key to being able to keep other aspects of your life in balance as well.
Go through this checklist and make sure that your training partner is holding up their end of the bargain or kick them to the curb. Afterall, working out should be all about you, and if at any point during the workout you feel your "self" losing focus, move on!
About the Author
Gym Owner and Personal Trainer, Keith Diedrich has a B.A. in Exercise Science and has been professionally involved in health and fitness in various capacities since 2005.
"My initial thought about Keith was that he seemed very casual and not as frenetic as other professionals. I quickly learned that he was gauging my stamina, movements, and technique. He wasn't after a fast burnout, but he wanted to exhaust every muscle every time. He said we were working on a "mind to body connection." With this connection I'd be able to gauge whether a set was 15 reps or 20 reps regardless of the initial "goal of 15!" I believe much of my gains came from Keith always seeing my potential even when I couldn't." ~ Saul "Mr. Biceps"