By Cavino Johnson Athletic Xtreme
It’s true. Some people are just self-motivated. You see them in the gym, lifting solo and getting in an insane training session. Earbuds in, hat brim pulled down low. Focused, man. And it works. But, some of us need a little “extra”. Some of us need a little more motivation. A little more push… better yet, a good shove. We need a “gym buddy”. Not to be confused with the “bros” at the gym… You know them. They use the term “bro” after every sentence and you don’t even know their first name. Even better, they don’t remember yours. Yet, every time you see them, they have conversation and fist bumps.
These guys have been in the gym a while. Not just that day, but for the last couple years. They’ve read all the magazines. They’ve scoured the internet for training “ideas”, and that’s all fine and dandy, but you have to draw the line when it comes to their self-given invitation to train with you. No thanks.
It’s just not what you need. A jabbering broham that has carried the same physique for as long as you’ve seen them in the gym… not to mention, the same exact workouts. No. You need a gym buddy. A gym buddy is someone that motivates you and pushes you out of comfort zones. They have a purpose. A goal. Not a social club necessity. They are ready to work. These guys/girls can be hard to find, though. Let’s face it. A majority of your friends don’t lift like you nor as consistently. Heck, they think you’re “too obsessed”, anyway. You need someone bigger than you. Someone who wants to train and not just go to the gym to work out. Like I said, goals.
Well, how does one go about finding such a gem?
I didn’t say it’d be easy. Besides, most times, the ideal buddy… is usually that person, brim low, earbuds in, lifting like life depended on every rep. Yep. That’s the one you want. But how the hell do you approach without being the gym bro? Timing is everything. Of course, you can’t just walk up on a person (without being that bro or fellow #fitchick or #chickthatlifts… It takes a little finesse and observation.
Maybe your training times happen to fall in-line with theirs or even the training split. If that’s the case, possibly approach after training. If they seem experienced (and we’ll base this requirement on the visuals of their physique and training methods), talk to them about your goal or ask about theirs. Believe it or not, people love talking about their goals, short term and long. Or, an easy ice breaker would be to mention a lift you just happened to see them execute. Once a bit of rapport has been established, make mention of possibly training a muscle group together that just so happens to line up with their training split and yours. When the time comes, be intense, stay focused. If they take the lead, go with it. Don’t question or hesitate. Just lift. But, be prepared to lift heavier. Be prepared to use movements that may, otherwise, seem awkward if you were doing them solo. Remember, you approached them. It sounds like a relationship, doesn’t it? Of course it does. That’s what it could turn into.
But, what if, your approach is snuffed or fails?
What now? No worries. There are other fish in the sea. Then again, what of you’re the one that’s approached? How do you choose or reject? Here’s how I’ve handled it… If I feel the need to entertain the notion of training with someone, especially someone a little less experienced, I’ll use my delts training split or my arms training split. This way, I know there will be a lot of volume, drop sets and supersets. If they can hang, they may get the nod for a later training session. If all goes well… well, there ya go. Gym buds.
Gym Buddy Rules
1. First, and foremost, be on time.
If your set time is 5 p.m., get there at 5 p.m. or a few minutes earlier. I know that my training revolves around my meal timing, so I need punctuality. If we agree on 5:00, don’t show up at 5:30. Chances are, I’m pissed and have already gltten quite a few sets in deep. I won’t slow down and I won’t wait for you to catch up. Be sure your times coincide without incident.
2. Nail down a training routine or split.
If it’s legs day, don’t show up wanting to train chest “instead” because you’re too tired or because you didn’t eat enough. Suck it up, cupcake!! We’re squatting!! Communication is key.
3. Don’t forget, your new gym bud has to be trust worthy.
There’s a snowball’s chance in hell that I would get up under the bar, loaded with 45′s if I don’t feel I can get a safe spot from you. I’ll look for the bigger guy to spot me for those sets. No distractions. No cell phones. No flirting with the guy/girl on the bench next to us. Whether it’s your set or mine, you better be alert.
4. It’s a gym buddy, not a first date.
Leave your ego at home, it’s a gym, and we all start somewhere. So, if you can’t lift what I lift, then don’t. I don’t want to have to spot you (and when I say spot, I mean doing upright rows, while helping you look foolish on the bench press, right after my set.) and do all the work. At the same time, if I’m pushing 315 on the chest press, don’t have us break the bar down to 95 for your set. It takes up too much time and it’s annoying.
If all else fails, motivate someone you know to get into lifting. If you’re patient, they will pick up on your style and know exactly what’s expected over time. Synergistic gains abound!! Truth be told, I have had 2 training partners in my time. Some of the best sessions I’ve had were with them. Every once in a while, I’ll train with my wife, even. She’s good, too. No, she won’t be able to lift 315 off of my chest, but at least she can call 911 quickly.