How to Train with a Younger and Fitter Partner
(This is a follow up to my last blog post was on how to get a training buddy. It’s here.)
This is a photo of the guy I train with. I am not, nor have ever, looked as fit as this! He is younger, stronger, leaner, has more discipline, has better genetics, and no chronic injuries.
Young guys like him with no chronic injuries can train harder than guys like me (older with loads of spinal issues).
I have a lot of clients who train with these more-structurally-sound people, so I felt some guidelines would be well-received.
You may be asking: “Kyle, why train with this guy if the workouts are dangerous for you?” Well, firstly, because the training isn’t dangerous. It’s only dangerous if I try to lift beyond my means. It’s only my competitive nature that makes it dangerous. I can scale them down.
Why do I train with him? Because he helps me get the job done better than I can on my own. We need social support to succeed and I can’t think of anything that beats a training (or cooking) partner. Unless it’s a personal trainer or nutritionist, but we can’t all afford that all the time.
To avoid getting injured, do what I do:
- Do your warm up. You probably have specific exercises for your neck, back, shoulder etc. Show up early and get those done first.
- Be humble. If your partner is fitter, accept it and do your best. It’s not a competition, or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Competitions are ill-frequent events that you peak for.
- Don’t compete with someone who is stronger. You will lose and get hurt. If you must “compete” you can compete for who shows up first, who has the most passion or focus. Or something other than lifting the heaviest thing (which is a high-risk activity).
- Don’t train angry! We’re trying to show moderation here, people.
- Use perceived exertion. This is scale from 0-10, where zero is sleeping, walking is a 3, training hard is an 8 and failing on a lift is 10. You are much more likely to get hurt at 10 then you are at 9. And 8 or 9 is good enough to illicit gains. Use lighter weights and hit your reps properly.
- Beware of new exercises. Your buddy likely does things differently than you. Perform new exercises at about 50% or 65% of your usual intensity or you may get injured or be too sore to train for many days following.
- Modify exercises, if need be. Try new things but assess your body. If you get aches and pains, try another version of that exercise.
- Stay focused. With a training partner, it’s easy to get chatty and distracted. This is a great way to hurt yourself. In the gym, you are in harms way. Always. So keep the chatter to a reasonable level and don’t talk not during lifts.
- Show up on time.
- Don’t complain about your day. You might drag them down. Be positive!
- Show interest and learn as much as you can. They might enjoy mentoring, or at the very least, talking about exercise.
- Don’t turn down invitations unless you absolutely can’t make it. You never know if he/she is going to ask again.
- Don’t diss yourself. It’s tempting to make light of the fact that we have to strip half the weights off the bar when it’s our turn, but don’t do it. Just do your best and that says it all.
I’ve trained with national athletes, models, weekend warriors, and single moms. Sometimes I’m the mentor, and sometimes I’m the student. But no matter my training partner, it’s extra accountability, encouragement, knowledge, and fun. These get us to our goals.