Whether you chose to train with a partner or train alone is personal preference. Over the years, I have tried both, each have had their advantages and disadvantages. One thing I can say though, training as a group (even if just three) can also be detrimental, since it only compounds the negatives.
- They can assist when lifting so as to eek out those last few repetitions – known as “spotting”
- It helps to spur you on – provided you have someone with the similar goals and motivation levels.
- Someone else can see if you are not performing an exercise correctly and can advise on technique.
- Sharing an exercise naturally provides a good rest interval between sets (typically < 30s).
- Trying to coordinate a session can be a challenge and by compromising you may be changing your routine or not in the right frame of mind.
- If they miss a session or simply are not in the mood, this can affect your motivation too; it may even give you an excuse to not go to the gym that day!
- Can sometimes be tempting to engage in random conversation, losing your focus and wasting time.
- If there are more than the two of you, there will be too long a wait between sets. If you rest too long, you are not optimising your training.
With all things considered, personally I prefer to train alone since I am fortunate to be able to motivate myself well. As I regularly vary my routine depending on short-term goals (see article: Riding the Motivational Wave), this does not always fit well with a would-be training partner. That being said, occasionally I need the assistance for heavy lifting (not that I do much of this these days) so I have gotten to know and trust other like-minded regular gym-goers.
So for me, training alone, but amoungst friends has proved to be most effective over the years. Try it and see.
What of Personal Trainers?
This leads me nicely on to whether a Personal Trainer is a worthwhile investment. In my opinion, they definitely have a role to play in your new improved lifestyle. Certainly if you are new to the gym or need some new ideas to get you out of a rut. Beware though, you do not want to become reliant on them for motivation longer-term, as this will seriously hurt your pocket!
Regardless of your reasons for employing the services of a Personal Trainer, my advice is spend some time to find the right one for you. Try not to concentrate too much on their academic qualifications (too much emphasis is given to this these days), instead look at what results they have produced and the years’ of experience gained. Many a time I have overheard trainers pushing the latest ‘fad’ training style, where it is inappropriate for the client and their goals and can even be outright dangerous.
Finally, perhaps controversial to say, but if they do not display a healthy lifestyle and hold a good toned physique themselves, in all likelihood its a bad sign. The best motivators are good self-motivators afterall.