Monday, September 24, 2007

Lift With a Friend

Last Wednesday I pulled a new personal record for an unbelted deadlift. It was set to happen, but it had been set to happen 2 weeks ago when I tried and stalled out. So what was different about this time? I worked out with a friend.

I usually go to the gym alone, unfortunately. The time that I go isn't good for most people. I like it because the gym is pretty empty at that time of the morning, but I do wish I had some company. What are the benefits of having a friend to work out with?

1. Accountability
Someone else is counting on you to show up. You'll know that being too tired, while being a good enough excuse on your own, doesn't cut it when someone's waiting for you to spot them. In other words: if will power doesn't work, shame might.

2. Fun
Unless you are really into working out, it can be kind of boring. Especially if you're slogging through a 45 minute cardio session. Having a friend to talk to can be the difference between being bored and having fun, and if you're like me, boredom is the first and last sign I'm going to stop doing something. I've got a zero-tolerance boredom threshold.

3. Competition / Vanity
When you're competing against someone of similar strength, you'll dig down deeper and move weight you didn't know you could. You can be cheering each other on and still be desperately trying to beat each other.

And even if your strength levels are different, so that you're not directly competing, you will still want to look as strong as possible, because you are vain and shallow.

4. Safety
You'll be able to confidently and safely do exercises you wouldn't be able to alone. You'll be able to push through an extra rep on your bench with someone spotting you, and you'll find that you are actually stronger than you thought, because your fear was keeping you from going all out. That means faster gains. Getting heavy dumbbells into place is difficult, and with some help you can take the energy you would have spent awkwardly hoisting them and use it for an extra rep or two.

Boy, after writing this article, it makes me really wish more people liked me so that I didn't have to work out alone. Ah well, what ya gonna do about it, be pleasant to be around?

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