06 October 2010

The pitfalls and possibilities of group training

For the better part of a few years, throughout the majority of my training, I have trained with a stellar group of people.   Well, more like a couple that were steady and always willing to do the work and stragglers who may or may not have been swell to have around, but they eventually faded away.  As a human, chances are you have competed in something before.  Whether you are a man or a woman competing with other men for a cheap lay in a bar, or you have competed in a ping-pong tournament, or you have competed for academic honors you have competed. 

For this cheap slut, the winner must have a large wallet.  Wallet+Trampstamp+an already cheap slut=The Clap.  Congratulations, you win a doctor's visit. 
If you follow philosophical thought, Friedrich Nietzsche espoused this theory of the will to power.  One way--out of so many vastly incorrect ways--to interpret this is that humans don't merely adapt to survive and live and in complacency, but that the human will try to get better and better and become a master of its surrounding world, and also be a master of its reality.

The will to get better and not settle for mediocrity is why he had a bad ass mustache.
One way for a group of motivated people to get better is to compete with other people in sports.  If I were to compete in sports against someone--say in powerlifting--I sure as fuck don't want some piece of shit to beat me, so then that is my motivation to win, and to get better. I would be less likely to achieve the best I could achieve if I didn't have to assert my will to power over other people.  By the way, I say "piece of shit" regarding my competitor in jest, as in actuality these people might be my friends, or family.

If any of you remember the classic movie "Pumping Iron," we can recall that Arnold and Franco and the rest were all good friends, and ate together and partied together.  And the fact that they trained together made them try harder.  But when they stepped on the Olympia platform, they wanted to beat each other, and the process to exert their will over the competition started long before the competition--In Arnold's Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding the Oak relates how the guys wouldn't show off their physique before a competition, but in order to weaken and demoralize their opponents, Franco Columbu would run around in shorts and show off how great he looked. 

Franco was Arnold's best man at his wedding, but they still competed against each other at the Olympia's. 
Overall the group dynamic was a good thing for these guys.  Sometimes, group training is not always that fun, and it can leave you pissed off and demoralized.  I have read of others having training partners who were nothing but whiny little pussies, but I didn't think it would affect me ever, until recently when some slackers started showing up to my group.  Now, when I say slackers I mean, people who barely do anything and wonder why nothing is happening, when they didn't listen to instructions, or advice that was freely given out.  Other times some people decide to take it easy because they worked out super hard, or maybe even maxed out a lift the day before.  There is a difference. 

The bad people in your group can distract you or other people from making any progress (though you can ignore them, if you got the willpower).   The key to dealing with them?  You can always expel them from your group.  If you are a university club, it's not likely.  So what is the next best thing?  Ignore the problem and focus on what you want to do, and find others who you will motivate and be motivated by within the group and let the asshole be a pariah for the duration of your lifting session.  In the end, only you can fuck your own goals up. 

Pauline Nordin knows how to get shit done. 


  1. Sometimes I wished I trained with a group of motivated people...it would make things more exciting, I think. It's nice to have people to compete against, but also to learn with.

  2. I've always find this to be a double edged sword. I tend to train by myself and occasionally with a partern, it certainly helps to have a clear cut goal to keep you from getting over competitive and into a dickwaving contest.

    Every so ofter I find myself in a small training group but it often seems to be a much more casual training session, possibly due to the social aspect.

  3. Boris, sometimes people can have the best intentions, but no matter what they do, they look like they are trying to show off their metaphorical huge dick. But the social aspect is great, in my mind. It makes it go by quicker, and it can take what could be mindless training and turn it into something really fun. I checked out your blog, what weights do you use for your competition lifts?

    Christine, I imagine, especially you being a woman and all, that it'd be more difficult than normal to find a training partner--you probably would intimidate most males, and shut their ego down, and women I have noticed get self conscious about working out in front of other people, and about being around other alpha-females.

  4. I normally train by myself because not many people have the same goals, abilities and schedule that I do. If I am training with someone else it's typically one other person.