Some people say there is strength in numbers and to get gym results I agree!
Jetting off to visit my Cypriot workout-wingman Kristis has got me thinking about the importance of having a training partner. Since Kristis moved back to his homeland of Cyprus I have yet to find a replacement who lives up to his drive, hard work and sense of humour. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the company of everyone at CrossFit Leeds but I need someone who follows the same programmes, shares my goals, can be my Mr Motivator and who can withstand me for longer than 30 minutes.
‘Am I being too picky or is it genuinely hard to find the right gym partner?’
During the CrossFit Games Open we had a tight group of athletes at CrossFit Leeds who were all training at the same time, towards the same goals and on the same programme. This was brilliant. Although we were gutted as a team as we came nowhere close to qualifying for regionals, everyone improved drastically and loved training. For me, the importance of having someone to train with has increased significantly. This is due to the high intensity of the workouts, near enough impossible gymnastics movements and tough strength cycles. I admire anyone who can train day in day out on their own and get the results they are after! However, even the few CrossFit athletes that I know who can withstand training alone relish the opportunity to train with someone else.
Here are my 3 top reasons why I think it’s so important to find a gym buddy:
And I mean not just during training, but actually getting to the gym in the first place! It’s one thing to cancel on yourself, but to cancel on someone else who is counting on you is another thing. Getting through the gym door after a tough day in the office is a challenge in itself. Once you’re there seeing other people training, that gives me motivation.
Training alongside someone else makes you push yourself that bit more. Subconsciously, you compete against your partner to lift heavier weights, keep up during a workout or get more reps in to try and beat them. Along the same lines, I think it’s important that you and your partner share similar ballpark athletic abilities. The odds are, that mentally you’ll both want to give up around the same time, but you will both last that little bit longer as the other one hasn’t given up yet.
Even if you have a training partner sometimes one of you won’t be able to make it due to other commitments. When this happens I plug in my headphones and ‘squat like its hot’. I time my rest and find this erases any distractions and helps me to focus. One tip is to use the other people training in the gym as motivators. This helps me especially if they’re lifting big or doing something impressive. I think to myself, they didn’t get to that position by chickening out on training when their gym buddy couldn’t make it.
Tips and Tricks
Free help, tips and advice can come from your gym buddy, especially if they are a specialist at a particular movement. I like to ask them what they did to become so good and what they think I could do to get better. A good gym partner will correct your form and spot you wherever necessary to get that last rep in and overload your muscles, ultimately building your strength. There’s nothing better than talking through a failed rep with your partner and then correcting minor things to get it the next lift.
Despite the temperature being mid 30s (c), I’m looking forward to wodding alongside some of the best in Cyprus this week. I’m visiting some great CrossFit boxes and of course, I’ll be picking the coaches’ and athletes’ brains for tips and tricks. I love to see how they learn and develop movements. Training outside of your usual gym can be so valuable.
A tip from my own experience is that it’s important not to ‘cherry pick’ workouts based on your strengths. This is a mistake I made for a while. It’s easy to do especially if you’re demotivated and alone. I would take out any pull up or hanging movements from my programming. However, this plateaued my progress for a while and eventually my ability to do pullups disappeared. I took advice from others in my box and now the only time I change or scale movements is if that area is tight or sore and I want to rest it.
It’s important to remember why you’re training in the first place. For me that’s because I enjoy it and its fun. Whether this enjoyment is seeing results and progress, exciting weightlifting cycles, gaining gymnastics skills or even taking pleasure in the pain and doms, training with someone else can enhance the fun feeling.
‘I have found that with a training partner you can celebrate successes together.’
One of the best things at CrossFit Leeds is the partner and team workouts. Your partner encourages you to push yourself so much harder, as you don’t want to let the other person down. I often experience the most pain during post partner workouts. The time period between alternating rounds tricks you into thinking you can go harder as there’s this so called ‘rest’ coming. If I ever feel like I need a blow out, then an alternating round partner workout is the best cure. Of course you’re going to feel better if you feel like you’ve gone harder!
‘Hopefully I’ll find a new permanent workout wingman soon.’
But in the meantime it’s important to adapt my training programme to get the best results. I’d achieve very little form a 30 minute continuous AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout alone. I’d be moving like a snail after 10 minutes, as it doesn’t mean anything to me and there is no immediate incentive. It would be way too easy to stop and I just wouldn’t find it fun. Maybe I’m mentally weak or maybe I need to learn to pace AMRAPS? I’m not a professional athlete after all, but I do want to be the best I can be. I try to change my programming when training alone to get as much out of my trainings sessions as possible. Like many of you reading I work full time and so training time is valuable. But again it’s important not to cherry pick the workouts.
In my opinion a training partner can often be the difference between success and failure in a gym session. Training with someone a few times a week (usually on snatch day) is crucial to my motivation and helps me ensure I am progressing efficiently and effectively.
Strength in Depth 2016 Team Work
As is the case for a lot of other CrossFit gyms in the UK, CrossFit Leeds are currently doing their best to qualify for the Strength In Depth (SID) 2016 Finals. This is a fantastic team competition. It tests 12 athletes from differing abilities across all different disciplines of CrossFit. Each team is made up of 7 male and 5 female athletes with one male and one female being 40+. This year our gym won the Awesome Supplements SID competition and proved that our gym is TEAM AWESOME!!! I edited together some amateur video evidence based on a set of criteria. The video which shows why we are awesome can be viewed on Youtube here. This video shows you how great teamwork and comradery creates a community. This community spirit is why the gym is a crossfitters second home and favourite thing (after eating).