Do you feel that you get better results and go harder when you work out alone or when you work out with a partner?
This is one issue I have faced. While I enjoy having the camaraderie of a workout partner, I find that I am not as serious and do not push myself as hard as I would when I am alone. Plus it is hard to find another person who has the same mentality and or focus as you. I have had a lot of partners over the course of my career. Some were good and some were just there to make sure I didn’t kill myself. I have had two partners now for about five to seven years and I wouldn’t get rid of either one of them for anything. There are some steps and guidelines that have to be put in place when you’re looking for a training partner. Remember, bodybuilding is selfish so your program is the most important thing to you. If you are a top-level competitor, then you have to make sure your partners understand that. If you are a regular Joe Gym Rat, then you’re going to have to make concessions and compromise with someone else’s ideas about what is good and what isn’t.
Here are a few of the steps I look at when finding a training partner.
1- Will this person be there? The most important of all criteria is whether the person is going to show up. Will they show up in a snowstorm, if they’re hung over, if they have personal stuff to do? All these things need to be answered. When you put your body through the things we do and you have a goal to go far, you need to make sure your partners are going to be there no matter what.
2- Will they sacrifice? This ties into the point above. If your training partner has a hot date, do they leave you stranded or do they make arrangements with you or the date so neither suffer? I know it sounds silly, but this person is your coach or motivation in essence and if they can just screw off anytime they want, there is no point. You need to feel like they are committed to making you better.
3- Do they drive you? If the person has the first two down, you are in great shape. Those are the two training partner killers. Just as important as those two is intensity. Great the guy shows up and he doesn’t miss, but can he fire you up? Your partner needs to be able to get you going on the days when you feel weak, off, or you just don’t want to be there. If they can lift you from down in the dumps to breaking personal bests, then that person is a training partner for life. This is a hard quality to find.
4- Do they care? Last and perhaps most important, does the person you’re working with care about the goals you are trying to achieve? Does the person care if you cheat on your diet? If you miss a workout? If you dog it on a lift? A training partner who cares will not let you down because they want to see you improve.
Like I said, I have two great training partners. One is a little older than me and has a mental approach that is sound and keeps me grounded. The other is younger than me and a little crazy, so he gets me fired up. Both never miss training days, push me hard, and most of all, they care.
Both my training partners want to see me be the best in the world and nothing can replace that. The reason it also works is I want the same for them.
What is your opinion on alcohol and bodybuilding? Do they mix? Can you drink in moderation (every now and then) and still be able to give it 100%? Do you think it could hinder the development of a solid physique?
I’m going to answer this one from personal experience and not from the scientific side of things. I used to love to drink; in fact I still do, just not very often. Bodybuilding and alcohol can mix depending on your goals and how much alcohol you consume. If your goals are to simply build muscle and possibly compete in one show just for fun, then feel free to go out on the weekends with your friends and have a good time. If your goals are to be the best one day or to win multiple shows, then alcohol will slow you down.
The part of this equation that really matters the most is frequency of drinking and how much alcohol is being consumed. If you drink every weekend on Friday and Saturday it’s going to hold you back even if it’s just a few drinks. If you drink once in a while, but you go crazy and drink until you’re passed out with the bottle in your hand, that will also hinder your progress.
The only way to successfully enjoy alcohol in your social life and still make gains is to drink in moderation. Moderation in both amount and frequency. If you drink every other weekend or once a month and it’s only a few drinks, you’re going to be fine. Any kind of bingeing or regular drinking, again, is not the way to go.
I can tell you my own story from my own personal experience. I used to drink five or six nights a week back when I was 19, but I began bodybuilding by the time I turned 21. I didn’t know any better, so I kept on drinking, but a little less, maybe two or three nights a week. I made gains but most likely it was because I had just started, so my body would have grown no matter what. When I got ready for my first show, my trainer allowed me two glasses of dry red wine every other weekend, while dieting! I know, crazy, right? Regardless, I won my first show. After that I slowed down even more, to once a week, and won my second show, kept on and lost my third show. After that, I slowed it down even more, to once a month, twice a month, tops. Then I began to really get better, and after I turned pro, I stopped drinking except for on special occasions, three or four times a year. I still wasn’t where I wanted to be in the IFBB, though. So, in the last three years, I think I have been out drinking with friends about six times and even those times were completely under control (involving just a small amount of alcohol).
This long-winded response is not to explain my history to you; it’s to show you that the further you want to take your physique, the more diligent you have to be with your body. That’s why, in the beginning of this answer, I said it all depends on your goals. Little by little, as I got further into my career, I kept tapering things and making my lifestyle cleaner to be able to keep up with people who were working harder than me.
Determine what is most important to you and then set your schedule accordingly. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition; you can enjoy your life and still make great gains if you play it right!