There are so many different reasons people go to the gym and there are so many different levels of fitness or strength or knowledge.
It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to want to train for a different reason than your friend or training partner. We all follow different programmes and all have different goals.
What we fail to remember sometimes is that not everyone is super strong or super fast or super lean and that it’s OK to differ.
There are a lot of benefits to training with a partner or group. There are often people you look up to at the gym and admire for their speed or strength, your goals might be to lift as much as them or run as far or fast as them.
But you’re not quite there yet and that’s OK.
Take your time. Don’t rush this. This is your path, your journey, your fitness. Do it your way.
It’s really great when you make friends at the gym and find someone who encourages and inspires you. They make you want to be better, try harder or lift heavier. These people may be a similar fitness or strength level to you and you can work together sharing the same weights, however, these people may be a lot stronger than you or a lot more conditioned in their discipline and so the weights you each use will probably differ and that’s OK.
One major fault people can make when they get a new gym buddy is they try and match their level; this can have serious consequences often leading to injury.
Work at your own level, every exercise is scalable whether you need to progress or maybe regress it. There’s no shame in not lifting as much as your friends, always remember that they had to start at the beginning too. There’s no cheating when it comes to weights, you can either lift it or you can’t. You can’t fake it and you’re not helping yourself if you try.
Everyone who ever started to lift had a starting weight; this was personal to them. They then had to train to increase their weights; at a rate that was personal to them. They are hitting a certain number of reps, or a certain weight; this is a goal personal to them. The training might be a team effort but the results are individual.
Unfortunately gym goers often forget the basics when they feel the need to compete against their friends, they forget proper form, proper technique and even proper gym etiquette.
A true gym partner who cares about your training and well-being would not encourage such competition; only encourage your own personal challenges.
You do not need to be the same size, weight, height or age as your mates, so why do you feel so compelled to lift the same as them?
You’re built differently, you’ve been training for different lengths of time, you’re
focused on different goals; not everything about your training is the same so why should the weights be?
When you’re all following the same programme during a session and the gym is busy, you may share squat racks, barbells or deadlift platforms, it’s OK to change the weight on the bar for each individual person.
Real training buddies help each other out; they spot each other and make sure everyone is challenging themselves at their own personal levels.
You may not be at the same level as them and that’s OK. You’ll reach the level that You want when You are ready.
Don’t ever let someone rush you to increase your weights or get your reps out quickly just so they don’t have to keep swapping the weight or they can have their turn again. It’s not up to them, they don’t know exactly how your body feels or what you are capable of.
Remember also not to stay in your comfort zone and never try harder, your mates are there to help and support you. They will be there to spot you, to push you and make sure you’re lifting safely; they’re also there to catch you, to give you that little bit help on that last rep and to correct you on your form.
If you try and increase the weights too quickly your form may suffer. There is no shame in taking the weight back down again to make sure you’re safe and at no risk of injury. Who honestly cares what the weight is anyway, a PB is a PB, a goal achieved is still a goal achieved regardless of what it was, they are reasons to celebrate and it’s even better when you can do this with your friends.
Just think, if it was the other way around would you be rushing your training partner, would you be encouraging them to lift more even though their form was slipping or their range wasn’t nearly as good as it was. Or would you be telling them that it’s OK to drop the weight again and take a step back for a second?
If you’re not quite there yet, that’s OK.