Finding a gym buddy is no easy task. First, you have to find someone who belongs to your gym. Since gym contracts are about as ironclad as a sentence in the Tower of London, that alone is a huge obstacle to overcome. Then, you have to find someone who goes to the gym at the same time you do. There are morning gym people and there are night gym people, and never the twain shall meet. And of course, you have to find someone that you like to be around. A gym buddy is like the fifth most intimate relationship you can have, behind your spouse, best friend, drinking buddy, and the guy who you list as a fake reference on your resumé.
It is going to be hard to find a gym buddy, but that doesn't mean that you should settle for anything less than the best. This is not only your physical fitness that is at stake here. Your gym buddy will have an impact on your state of mind. A good gym buddy will not only give you a spot, but he will be sounding board as you release all of the day's stress on a set of preacher curls. Some people just aren't the right people for the job. Here are some people that you should keep as far away from your buddy curls as possible.
Says: "Hey big guy. You'll get it next time champ."
Does: Practically lifts the weight for you when he gives you a spot.
You shouldn't be afraid to work out with a guy who is bigger than you. That can actually be a great motivator, and you know that no matter how much you lift, he'll be able to spot you. But we've all worked out with those bigger dudes who call you pet names like "champ," "big guy," or "captain." These are the guys who make little comments about how much you're lifting and make fun of you if you can't put up five pounds more than you did last week. There is a fine line between motivation and mockery, and you don't have to put up with your muscle head buddy's flashes of ego. No matter how fit they may be, if you're gym buddy doesn't make you feel better, you're better off without him.
Says: "I'm probably going to max out curls again today."
Does: You'll catch him lifting in a pastel dress shirt at 9:30 on a Friday night.
This is the guy who only wants to work out his biceps and his chest. This is the guy who skips leg day. This is the guy who only really hits the gym hard on evenings when he plans on hitting the club later that night. Everybody goes to the gym to look good, but you should try to find a guy who is looking for more than just big biceps from his gym experience. Workout buddies like this don't finish their sets, don't finish their workouts, and often stop going to the gym altogether, that is until there's another ladies' night at the club that they just can't miss.
The Drill Sergeant
Says: More like screams. All the time
Does: Leans over you while you bench, frothing at the mouth.
There is such a thing as too much motivation. It's always nice to have a workout buddy who quietly says "One more. Come on. One more." under his breath when you're pushing for that last rep. When that person stands over you shouting and salivating and punctuates the end of your set with a congratulatory shoulder punch, it can be a bit much. You want a gym buddy who holds you accountable, who will push you when you need it. If the person you're working out with pushes you every second you're in the gym, you might eventually lose the motivation to show up.
The Friend Zone
Says: "It's so nice of you to spend your Friday night working out with me."
Does: Notices you staring at her boobs.
First of all, if you're still using the term "friend zone," it might be time to turn off the video games, leave your parents' basement and get some real life problems. However, all of us find ourselves in unrequited love at one point or another in our lives, and the worst thing you can do is work out with that person. It is usually a bad idea to work out with anyone you have feelings for. No one wants to see you and your girl necking between bench sets. But, it is never a good idea to lift with someone you have feelings for if they aren't giving any feelings back. No matter how many fun runs you and your would-be lover attempt, no matter how many times you spot her in the squat cage just so you can stare at her ass, this is only going to make things worse.
Women have a term for the friend zone: lying. You acted like you wanted to work out with her platonically. You pretended that you simply wanted to have someone to play racquetball with on the weekends. But really you were hoping that time spent side by side in the gym would make the heart grow fonder. It won't. Ever.
The Time Consumer
Says: "I'll be right back."
Does: Never comes back.
You should take breaks between sets, just not as long as a lot of people think. If you are doing less than eight reps, your rest time should never be longer than three minutes. For most workouts, you'll want to keep your rest period to about 90 seconds. Men's Health published an excellent breakdown of rest times by number of reps that you can consult for a more in-depth analysis.
No matter how many reps you're attempting, you never need a five minute break between sets that involves getting a drink, flirting with the girl at the front desk, and peeping the Sports Center Top 10 before returning to your workout. Your time is precious, and even the most intense workouts rarely go longer than ninety minutes. If you find yourself in the gym for three hours, and most of that time is spent jawing with the staff instead of getting down to business, it might be time for a more clock-conscious lifting partner.
The Jealous Kind
Says: "Look at the jacked dude. He probably has no life. Look at the fat guy. What a joke."
Does: Spends a lot of time talking about people he thinks look stupid.
As someone who writes regularly about gym etiquette, believe me, I know there is a lot to make fun of at the gym. If the guy you're working out with provides running commentary on everyone working out around you, it can get a little tiresome. The guy benching next to him is "such a bro. He totally juices." The girl on the treadmill, "wears make-up to the gym. Who does that?" The guy over on the mats "looks so dumb. He's just stretching or something."
All of this mockery is probably hiding his insecurities. It can be hard to find the strength to start going to the gym if you aren't quite the Adonis you might like to be. Too many guys respond to the fear of gym failure by taking shots at the people around them. You don't need that kind of negativity. If your gym buddy is focused more on what everyone around him is up to than spotting you during your set, it might be time to seek a gym companion who isn't quite so green with envy.
The Angry Guy
Says: Nothing. Just grunts loudly.
Does: Makes faces that cause veins to pop out of his head.
He grunts, almost screaming, after every set. He throws his weights to the ground when he's finished. Veins are practically popping out of his head as he works his way through his set. He gets pissed off if someone asks him how many sets he has left, or even if someone touches the weights he was planning on using two workouts from now. Every gym has a red-faced, scowling guy hulking around the weight room, and he is one of the last people you want to work out with.
The weight room is a much better place to work through your anger than, say, on the street or at the workplace, but that doesn't mean you have to put up with it. A lot of guys take to the gym to express the aggressive masculinity that they can't release in the workplace or at home.
While these guys aren't going to be happy until they learn to like themselves, you can be happy right now by walking away.
Says: "I'm probably just going to lift today."
Does: Gets winded on his walk from the parking lot to the locker room.
Many gym rats hate doing cardio. There is something therapeutic about lifting when you're in the right frame of mind. You go through a slow, controlled motion as you listen to your favorite music or podcast, and all is right with the world. If that's your thing, it might be hard to transition to getting red-faced on the treadmill while 15 year-old girls run at triple the speed with ease. The problem, of course, is if you don't do your cardio, you'll get bigger but you'll never get cut. Also, you'll die at 53 years old after getting winded midway up a flight of stairs and falling to your doom. You have to do your cardio, and if the musclebound chubster you lift with won't step foot near a treadmill, you'll need to make other arrangements.
No matter what workout you swear by, there always the possibility of too much of a good thing. Guys who only run could be knocked over by a strong breeze. Guys who only do yoga might be flexible, but its tough to stretch away that beer gut. Guys who only swim ... okay, they actually look pretty good. But, that doesn't mean you shouldn't switch up your workout. If your gym buddy is close-minded, limit your session to two or three days a week, and find something else to do on the days when you go your separate ways.
Says: "I'm not taking steroids."
Does: Takes steroids.
No, I'm not talking about the guy that brings a gallon of green juice with him to the gym, though he is pretty damn annoying. If you hang around the gym long enough, you are going to run into guys who are using supplements that aren't exactly vitamins. Though raised awareness has brought about a sharp decrease in dudes sticking needles in their asses in the locker room, many guys are still putting suspect substances in their body. At best, these items don't do much at all; at worst they're drugs, and come with serious risks. If your friend starts getting 'roided up, canceling your gym dates might be just the wake-up call he needs to start making better decisions.
Says: "Well, I think more form is fine."
Does: Continues sheering his knees, jerking his back, etc. until he gets seriously injured.
It's annoying when someone tells you that you have bad form or that you're trying to lift too much weight. It's also important for you to listen to people who tell you these things. It's also important that you call our your gym buddy if he's doing something wrong. If you don't make each other better, there's no point of having a gym buddy at all. Many guys hate to be told when they're doing something wrong at the gym. Somehow, an adjustment in squat form is an attack on their manhood. This is something they need to get over or a) they're never going to get better and b) they might hurt themselves. Everyone should be open to feedback in all aspects of their life. It's especially important when it comes to physical activity, because taking a little criticism could mean avoiding a critical injury.