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What makes a good training parter?
I’ve always had a training partner. A training partner obligates you to keep pushing, even when you’d rather not. They also make the workout go more smoothly: Try to load a leg press with 20 plates by yourself—you’d be there all day!
A good training partner gives his all and is reliable. If you’re with someone in the gym who’s giving 100%, then you’ll also go at 100%. Because if you don’t, he’ll shout at you until you do. It’s important that he turns up to train when he says he will. There’s nothing worse than agreeing to a time with someone and getting all psyched up and ready to train, and then he arrives 30 minutes late. I often train during the day, so this can be difficult for me—since many people work 9 to 5.
At my level, I also need someone who’s willing to train for me. If I train with someone who competes, he may need to focus on a particular area, like the back or legs, and it could mess up my routine if he prioritizes them. This is why I prefer to find someone who loves training hard but doesn’t compete and is happy to train however I like.
A guy named Darren Smith helped me get started in bodybuilding when I was 19. He and I trained together at his gym with four or five others for a couple of years. People say you can’t train in a group of six or seven, but if you’re giving it your all and want it badly enough, you can train however you want.
After that I trained with two brothers for 21⁄2 years before meeting Steven Joel. We’ve trained together for eight or nine years, and we still do whenever I’m home in Liverpool [in England]. In that time, he has probably missed only four or five sessions. Steven is one of those guys who could blow a lot of the pros in the U.K. out of the water, but competing is not his thing. He doesn’t want to put a pair of trunks on, but he loves training, and if I want to do it at 4:30 a.m., he’ll be there.
I have trained with guys like Roelly Winklaar and Big Ramy in Kuwait, but a guy called Kimo is my main training partner there. A lot of guys change their training partners every few weeks, but I tend to stick with the same ones. Good ones are rare, so if I find one I get on with and who has the right qualities, we tend to stay together for years.