One More Reason to Have Good Training Partners

About the Author: Eric Cressey

I’ve written quite a bit in the past about the importance of having good training partners. These are lifters who know you and your tendencies: how to get you fired up, what type of training to which you respond best, and when to hold you back.

Yes, a good training partner should know when to hold you back – just like coaches know when to play it conservative with their athletes at specific points in the season.

Tony Gentilcore has been my training parter for over two years now. I know his strength levels, injury history, and what style of training best suits him for particular goals – and he knows the same about me.

Last night, we were deadlifting for heavy singles on the trap bar, and Tony just didn’t look good. Before he could even turn to talk to me after his last warm-up set (405 for a single), I told him to shut it down and do something else. His bar speed was down, and it just didn’t look good. It was one of those nights to modify things on the fly and avoid getting hurt doing something stupid. So, he shut it down and went over to do some full squats with the safety squat bar for reps. He went on to get in some assistance work, and all the villagers rejoiced.

With inexperienced lifters, sometimes, you have to push through not feeling so hot, as you’re still dealing with an athlete who needs to practice technique. Or, in the case of in-season lifting, you may need to do what it takes to keep strength levels up. Ultimately, it comes down to asking yourself, “Can I achieve a training effect safely?” If the answer is no, you modify. If the answer is yes, you consider whether you need to play around with the loading parameters. Do you go from sets of three to sets of five? Do you drop a few sets? Do you swap some resistance training for added mobility and activation work? Extend the warm-up? Pick a different exercise and maintain the loading parameters?

There are literally hundreds of potential modifications you can make. Only time, experience, and knowing the athlete in question will help you make the best decision.

Eric Cressey