Train Together, Stay Together

Train Together, Stay Together

// By Tracey Longo – How to Get the Most out of Your Workout (and Your Workout Partner)

Shera A. Photo by MidAtlantic Photography

Want to maximize your training and develop built-in motivation and accountability? Someone who can fire you up even on days when you can barely drag yourself out of bed? Or hold you to your goals, when that critical last rep feels like you’re lifting a freight train? If you’re looking for the type of coach who knows whether you’re giving it your all or just sleepwalking, consider training with your partner. Not just any partner. The one you date or live with. That’s right, I said it. YOUR partner.

The results of developing a live-in coach and training partner can be remarkable. Just ask Shera Ann Ruben (picture here on the right) and Mike Solomon of North Potomac, MD, who started training together just a few weeks after meeting three years ago. The results? Incredible finishes in bikini and bodybuilding competitions respectively, the result no doubt of decent genes and determination but also the dynamic they created by training together. “She’s a personal trainer who is quick to point out the things I could be doing better,” laughs Solomon. “And my strength is my intense focus, which she needs sometimes. So between the two of us, we’re get a very focused, effective workout.” A business development rep at IBM, Solomon decided just three and half months before his OCB (Organization of Competitive Bodybuilding) show that he wanted to compete as a bodybuilder. “I was doing the diet to support Shera anyway, so I thought, I might as well go all the way.” Solomon took second place at in his weight class, an astounding finish for a new bodybuilder.Six weeks later, Ruben took sixth place in a very competitive NPC bikini battle—her first, after a series of figure contests.

What advice do they have for other couples who want to train together? “The best thing you can give each other is support and encouragement,” says Ruben. “This was the first time I had gone through all this competition with someone else and I have to say it made it much nicer. No matter what your goals are, just having someone else there saying you’re doing a good job is worth so much.”

Mike S. Win OCB Presidential Cup

Solomon (pictured here on the left)  says his relationship with Ruben is what propelled him to compete. “It’s nice to have someone who shares your interest. You don’t have to justify why you’re going to the gym. We can do different workout routines, but we’re still there for support, to help each other lift heavier and especially to do cardio together. We both love to jump rope,” Solomon adds. “It was easy to see that this couple really supports each other and they both gain from it,” says Mike Cadotte, TUA’s Director of Photography. Cadotte shot the couple for our magazine and also did the shoot of Ruben for the cover of KettlebellSport and Fitness Magazine, Winter, 2010.


What will you get (and give) from training with a partner?

  • Motivation! They’ll hold your feet to the fire, when you want to stay in bed or just curl up on the couch. You’ll do the same for them.
  • New fire in your belly. With someone to push you to achieve new personal records, and a built-in spotter who has your back, you’ll be able to lift bigger and get more reps.
  • More effective exercises and techniques. The best things I’ve ever learned in the gym have been from fellow lifters generous enough to share what they know. Watch, listen and learn.
  • Another set of eyes. Whether you’re training to get on stage, lift big in your next competition or just look better, it’s a lot easier for someone watching you to see where your deficits are or your form needs correcting. A helpful critique can be priceless in maximizing your training and success.
  • Less temptation at the table. Finally, you’ll have someone to eat, shop and cook with. That means less temptation and more success at developing and sticking to an eating plan that’s firing on all cylinders. “If Mike hadn’t been dieting with me and was bringing home takeout, I don’t think I would have competed,” says Ruben. “It was amazing to not only find someone who supported me, but was willing to take that journey with me.” Hardcore, pre-competition dieting can make for cranky people, and Solomon admits if you’re doing it as a couple, it will invariably make for two cranky people at times. But dieting together is much easier than eating tilapia while your partner pours hot fudge on a huge bowl of Haagen-Daz.

It’s not for everyone—training as a couple. Some folks have such different training programs ormentalities (or already spend enough time together), that it’s just not feasible. And the gym is supposed to be a place you go to achieve your goals—not bicker.  But if you can make it work, the results can be rewarding. If you don’t believe me, just look at our photos. –