Expert Tips

Lean Machines: Time to Grab a Gym Buddy!

Working out with someone else is better than doing it on your own, say the Lean Machines. Here, John and Leon tell us why it yields better results…

A lot of the stuff we’ve been doing on Instagram recently includes workout exercises that can be done together. We’ve had some really good feedback, with quite a few people tell us they’ve been actually doing the challenges.

The thing about training with a partner is that you’re sharing the load. If you’ve got these mental games and challenges going on then you share it out, perfect if you’re feeling like you  can’t be bothered to go to the gym, or you need that extra bit of support or motivation. Everyone can benefit from working out together, and that can happen in different ways. If you’re squatting heavy, or bench pressing heavy, you really want a spotter to allow you to go for those maximum weight reps where you know the chances are you’re not going to make it but you’ll give it you’re absolute best. Knowing you have someone there is the difference between gritting your teeth and giving it a go and not. It’s always those last reps that make the difference because you’re pushing your body further than you have done before, the whole idea is to progressively overload the body. So that’s a great way – to have a spotter or partner.

Another great way is doing fun challenges or giving incentives to each other. Guys and girls, they love a bit of banter, like ‘the loser buys the protein shake afterwards’ or ‘loser buys dinner’. You can set yourself little challenges, like holding reps longer than each other. For example, last year, we did a rowing challenge together. I went first, Leon went second. I know my rowing time, so I was like ‘beat my rowing time, you’ve got to beat it’ and it pushed him to beat my time. So that’s the powerful thing about being in a team. I trained with him for the first time in a long time yesterday and it’s so much more reassuring to have someone there, someone to talk to. I think most people in the gym feel that way. A lot of people train by themselves and I think in a lot of circumstances that makes people stand-offish.

The counter argument to that, I guess, is when I used to go to the gym with a mate we would end up spending an hour and a half there because we were chatting in between exercises. So, I guess it can lengthen your time in the gym as well, but it’s about making sure you stay accountable for the work you actually do. To do this, you need to choose your partner wisely, maybe someone that shares the same goals as you, or someone who you know is not going to faff about. I know some people worry that if they go with a mate they’ll be there for ages, or they won’t be able to lift as much as them, but actually seeing you doing it helps break it down and brings the fun back into it.

A guy messaged me yesterday talking about the fact that he’s going to gym with mates and they’re a lot less fit than him, so he has to stop early. He’s worried about his own progress. Well, he can either start training by himself and risk his motivation or take it on the chin and realise it’s only temporary. One thing I never tolerate is if I see someone giving stick to another person at the gym who is overweight or out of shape, or someone talking bad about them, even if it’s just their mates. If you’ve got concrete evidence that they are doing the one thing they need to do change their lives, and you’ve got the audacity to give them stick for trying to change their lives… I’ve never got my head round that. Help them, then they’ll soon be at your level, and training will be more enjoyable.

The third thing is: give your partner challenges a go. They’re always a lot of fun. I think that’s one thing that’s great about social media – there is so much variety on there. I always take a look and find a new exercise I like. There’s always something to look at, and you don’t have to worry about your workouts going stale because of the variety of stuff you can find.

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