You are not married to your training partner!

Taking last week off from the gym gave me time to consider my progress over the last three months since returning from Florida. I have gone nowhere. My body weight when I returned was 231; my body weight now: 229. None of my lifts have improved, some have gotten worse and I feel like shit every time I pick up a weight. Not the trend you want to notice when you look back over your training and diet for the last month, let alone the last three.

There are several factors adding up to the perfect shit-storm of failure: my diet sucks because I’m eating crap and trying to make up for it with a shit load of protein powder; I have no set schedule for lifting; people think I’m at the gym to socialize; I spend more time worrying about my training partner’s lifts and goals than my own.

The first three problems I’ll solve within a week. The last one, I need to solve now because it’s the most difficult. I like my training partner. We’re good friends and we share a passion for lifting. Strength-wise we’re not far off and he’s far more reliable than I am. He never complains about the workout and gives me feedback on my form when I ask for it. Sounds perfect, huh?

Beyond that, there’s one major problem that ripples throughout the gym interaction between us. I have, at a minimum, 10 years experience on him and I’m a repository of research knowledge that he’s still learning. I assumed the role of trainer, and he’s accepted the role of trainee. In the last year, his bench has gone from sub-200 to over 300; he’s added 40 lbs of muscle; he’s learned to manipulate his diet to get shredded or to gain mass; he’s learned several techniques that you can’t find in any book; and the list goes on. So, in retrospect, the training partner situation is perfect…for him.

And that’s what I need. Someone with more experience. Someone who, two months ago, would have said, “What the hell is wrong with you…you haven’t advanced in ANYTHING.” Someone willing to question my methods when it’s clear that I’m flailing around, trying a new program every two weeks because things just don’t feel right. Someone who gets in my face and says, “You know what, jackass? You need to check your ego at the door and focus on results,” when I try pushing too much weight, just to look impressive. Someone who isn’t there to try and out perform me when they can and watch quietly when they can’t.

Knowing all this doesn’t make it any easier. Like I said, my training partner is one of my best friends. But I remember reading an article once, or a blurb online, or something that said, “You’re not married to your training partner!” Nothing can be more true. I need to be in the gym for myself—not for a training partner, not to socialize, not to give advice—but to focus on nothing except my next set, my next rep, my next goal. And when your training partner can’t take you to those places, it’s time to end the relationship. It’s not marriage. No one’s feelings need be hurt. But the breakup needs to be clear and final. No, “yeah, I’m lifting at 3, so if you want to hang out or lift then, I’ll be around,” or “Yeah, I’ll spot for you today, when you goin’ in?” or “Hey, haven’t seen you in a while, mind if I work in with you for the day?” Respect the finality of your own decision.

I’ll say it again: it’s not a marriage. Explain your position, break it off and train solo if necessary (and if you workout with your girlfriend, or wife, no offense, but I wouldn’t even consider you serious enough to be reading this blog, and your training-partner blues, if you have them, extend far beyond the confines of the gym.)

I’m extremely internally motivated, introspective, and have developed excellent self-critiquing skills, so I’ll make good progress on my own, but I’m at the point now where I need what my training partner had: a coach. I’ll probably have to pay for that when I find the right person. I won’t hire a woman—no offense ladies, but I’ve never seen a woman as muscular or as strong as I plan to become—and not the scrawny trainer in the gym with arms the size of my wrists who loves to say, “You know, I can really take you to the next level.” I’m better off alone than working with someone like that…someone like Eric Cressey. I can assure you it will be someone who’s at or been where I want to go.

It’s a sad day of training today, a single day of a training, but it’s me-time at the gym, and right now, there’s no other asshole I want ridiculing me when necessary and driving me to new levels than myself.