Editor's note: This column originally ran April 5, 2010.
In past columns, I've shared strategies for getting into great shape by flying solo. One other strategy is — developing a little friendly fitness competition with a friend.
Training with a friend can be a fun, and motivating experience that can push you to your goal faster than constantly trying to do it on your own.
Some of my best workouts were when I had a steady training partner to work with. I actually prefer to "partner up" as it keeps me consistent, and consistency is the key to progression.
Here are some tips to make the most of your training partnership.
Seek balance, grasshopper
When you are looking for a friend to train with, make sure you think of someone who is of similar size and strength as you. There shouldn't be a big disparity between the level of ability — or conditioning. It can be a little frustrating to train with "uber-athlete" if you haven't trained in years. Plus, it can be tempting to try to train up to his or her level, which could lead to injury. On the flip side, it can be equally frustrating to train with someone you always have to slow down for. Find that friend that you can progress at about the same pace with.
Let's bump schedules
When you have narrowed down that training partner list, make sure that whomever you have in mind can work with you to create a regular training schedule, and can commit to being there as scheduled barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Having someone who constantly misses workouts, or is chronically late for workouts can be a real buzzkill, and make workouts feel rushed if you are tight on time.
If you have a training partner who constantly misses or is late for workouts, let him or she know that if it keeps happening, they can expect less of a spot on their heaviest lifts. Just kidding, but in all seriousness you have to have a reliable training partner for the thing to work as good as you need it to.
Let's get busy
When you've got that perfect training partner, and you have your schedule together, get to work. Spend the time in training tearing into the workout, pushing each forward to knock down every goal you want to achieve. Don't spend your time talking too much, or hanging out. It's funny how many times I'll get to the gym not feeling motivated full sails to train until I get the first few minutes in with whomever I'm working out with — and it's full speed ahead. That's the power of team training.
So the take home is this: Training with a friend can be a powerful, motivating thing if done properly. It can also be a nightmare if you don't do it the right way. Head over to our blog www.hometeamfitnessblog.com to see some great partner exercises that will energize your training, and give you a chance to show off your skills to your training partner
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer, and FTNS Radio show host. Visit his blog www.hometeamfitnessblog.com for more of the "Fitness Answer Man."