Partners In Pain!

Having a training partner is more than camaraderie, security, and a way to get the most out of your workout, it is also the golden opportunity to unleash your most devilishly sadistic sides. Learn the importance of having a training partner!

Having a training partner is more than camaraderie, security, and a way to get the most out of your workout, it is also the golden opportunity to unleash your most devilishly sadistic sides. Only problem is, you're getting it all back when you're the one doing a set, but that's probably just good for you anyway.

First off, I'd like to point out that - like everything else - the be or not to be about training partners is individual. If you've tried it and found it didn't add anything, try another training partner (lazy whiners can kill every trace of enthusiasm you once had). If you still don't like it - by all means, do your own thing! For most of us, however, having someone there to spur us on and make sure we don't mutilate ourselves when reaching complete exhaustion is a good idea.


Let's start with the nuts-and-bolts of a good spot. It doesn't matter if you're the world's best cheerleader - if your training buddy is stuck with a barbell over his throat and is turning purple, you have to either help him, or remember to put up a note on the bulletin board that you're looking for a new training partner on your way out. I recommend the former option.

-> The Spotting Checklist:

    Pay Attention
    If you stare at the woman in a thong doing stiff-legged deadlifts, odds aren't too good that you'll catch a falling weight in time.

    Be Prepared
    Standing with a finger up your nose is not only gross, but will also smash your foot as you weren't able to catch the falling dumbbell after your partner dropped it.

    Stay Balanced
    You know the stance - feet wide apart, knees slightly bent. Think the position you'd have standing up on a bus, or preparing to catch a bag laundry being tossed to you from above. Without balance, you might injure yourself when you suddenly have to hold on to 300 lbs in an awkward position.

    Know Thy Partner
    Be sure about how much or how little you should help your partner. If you don't already know, talk about it before the workout. While some are forced-reps freaks and want to keep going for 10 reps after failure, others might think you're insane for even touching the bar while they're still breathing. As a general rule, two or three fingers under the bar or a light touch on the elbows is enough to "follow" the weight's range of motion. Be prepared to assist in an instant, but don't pull any part of the weight until necessary.

    Don't stare at that woman, damnit!


A bullwhip and/or a cattle prod are great tools to get your lazy partner up to speed. If your gym would have a problem with this convenient and efficient method, you'll have to look for other forms of motivation. A piece of soap in a sock, for example.

MoneyBets are good. I'm not talking about big money values, but rather something fun and/or challenging. Set individual goals for each other with a reasonable chance of success, and let the guy closest to his goal get something from the other one. Pizza is not a good choice.

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Paying for the post-workout drinks is better. Then, of course, you have the verbal encouragement. You know, the good ol': "Is that all you've got, you little wimp? My 8-year old cousin can do more than that!" and: "I saw your wife with the mailman yesterday." ...Or whatever else you can think of that will make him snap out of the comfort zone.

I honestly don't know what pushes the button for women. Expressing awe over the size of your partner's butt? I don't know, as I'm mostly working out with my wife nowadays ... And I'm NOT dumb enough to try!

Verbal encouragement doesn't work for everyone, of course, but it's surprising how many guys react well to insults and general annoyance. It makes him pissed off, so make sure that he works ALL of it up before you let him off the bench or the machine. Otherwise he might have enough energy left to smack you for being such a wise guy. This brings us to the last part?

"Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?"

Army training is based on a simple principle: Take a bunch of comfortable, lazy people, and force them beyond what they thought possible, and let them discover that there was a whole lot more they could handle. I've been there, done that, and even though you're not laughing too much during the process, you'll appreciate it afterwards.

Bodybuilding is a little bit of the same. The best thing you can do is to realize that the comfort zone is a phantom structure created by your mind.

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Only once you've busted through that phantom will you be able to truly reach your full potential. The keywords to do this are: "Two more". There are always two more reps in there; all you have to do is get them out. Imagine that Regis Philbin suddenly walked up beside you, waving his thick wad of dollar bills in front of you, saying it was yours to grab - if you only did two more reps. Would you rack the weights?

It's yours and your partner's privilege and duty to bring each other to that point. You'll suffer on your end, but at least you get the benefit of returning the favor with a vengeance when you're done with your set.