Coach Wheeler | Training Partners

Coach Wheeler | Training Partners

Powerlifting 101: Choosing the right training partner

Today we are going to consider something that you would think to be a very easy decision, but let’s take a closer look. 

Ok, so you are trying to kick up your powerlifting training a bit and have realized there are times that you need a partner/spotter. First for the very basic need of help to unrack a bar on the bench press and second, it’s always good to have someone to spot when you start hitting heavier numbers; or in simpler terms, for safety reasons. Both of these are important reasons and no one would argue with these, but I would encourage you to seriously fine-tune your decision before you hook up with the most convenient and friendly person who happens to be available. 

How important are training partners?

In my opinion, your chances of pushing your total to your “dream level” (see previous blog post on goal setting), are going to be seriously hindered without a partner…or two….or three! Fact: Very few top lifters train alone. Yes, there are those who have done it and do it still, but my guess would be, in most cases, their situation is by circumstance, not by choice. They train alone most or all of the time, because 1) there is literally no one available or 2) there is literally no one available. 

Assuming that you are not that person and you do have options, what should you consider in making your choice?  

The three most important factors in a training partner: 

    1) Decide if you are an athlete or a recreational powerlifter. Whichever you choose, choose a likeminded lifter. If you do not know the difference, you are a recreational lifter. (Hey, I was a recreational lifter for my first two decades in the sport, so no big deal. All I’m saying is, it’s good to know your focus.)
      2) Physical strength level. Usually, it is better if you match up reasonably close with your partner(s).

        Example: a guy who benches 400 and a girl who benches 185. Way too much time spent changing plates. Very tough to get a rhythm. Again, can it be done? Of course, but would it not be much better to be closer in strength? Yes…way better.

          3) Mental strength level or commitment….by far, the most important of the three and this is usually the toughest one to match up to. (Refer back to your personal goals.)

            Discuss with your potential partner(s) the following:

            *Are you on the same page as your partner when it comes to training or competing? (goals)

            * Does this person have a significant other? (alert! alert! This one is HUGE!)

            *Does this ‘other’ know you are an athlete in training and not just “going to the gym”? This is such a huge part of this, I can’t stress this enough. Consider the following: 

            * holidays?...Athletes train on holidays. A holiday is just another day. Get your training in! Will your partner cancel for training on a holiday?

            *vacations?...Athletes train on vacation. There are no gyms where you are going? If so, why are you going there!? 

            *family functions?....Athletes train on these days, before or after. Love your family. Put your family first. But this does not mean you have to miss your training. It can be done! 

            *meet cycles?....Athletes do NOT miss any of these sessions unless they are injured.

            You must ask yourself (and your potential partner)….will your partner be there or did “something” come up?...again? How committed to training, are you and your partner. If you do not match up, you can still be friends, but not necessarily training partners.


            Give some serious thought and planning when it comes to choosing a training partner. This includes, by the way, becoming a better training partner, yourself, for the benefit of someone who might be looking for you! 

            Good luck and God bless, Ken Wheeler

            Coach Ken Wheeler USPA Multi Ply/Vice-President/HogPit Powerlifting

            Leave a comment

            Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

            This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.