8 Lessons Learned From Training With People Stronger Than Me

I’m pumped to have my buddy Tim Geromini on today for a guest post.  I think he chose an awesome topic and knocked it out of the park.  Enjoy: Working at a top tier strength and conditioning facility has a lot of perks, one of them being that I get to train with people much stronger than I am.

Every day before our athletes and clients make their way into the gym our staff comes in early to get a lift in (what kind of coaches would we be if we didn’t train?) It’s no secret to anybody in the room that I am the weakest of the group (although I think everybody is jealous that I can grow an epic beard and they can’t).

Epic-Beard-is-Epic
Epic-Beard-is-Epic

Some would look at this as an intimidating situation, after all it’s not uncommon for me to look over and see a co-worker pulling a 500 pound deadlift like it was a piece of paper off the floor. Meanwhile I am just getting back to deadlifting and do cartwheels when I can pull 275X5 and not have my spine shoot out from behind me and splatter all over the wall.

The way I see it, this is an opportunity to learn from them. You better believe I am taking full advantage of it; I have gained 20 pounds back in four months.

Go into most commercial gyms and you’ll always find those guys by the squat racks and benches who are pushing considerable amounts of weight. I saw it daily when I worked at a commercial gym. The only problem was that nobody went over and talked to them except me.

Intimidation is part of it; nobody wants to sit on the bench next to them and struggle to move a bar with 50 pounds on it. I fully understand. But why not try to learn from them? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked these guys about when they started lifting and they respond by saying how it was from somebody stronger who helped them. See where I’m going here?

With that in mind I put together a list of my observations from training with people stronger than I am. These are in no particular order:

Focus

Training isn’t just something to get through for an hour so they can say “got my exercise in for the day, now I can go eat that bag of chips I’ve been starring at all weekend”! For them training is about getting stronger, better than yesterday. Each lift has a focus and determination like their life depends on it. In between sets you’ll see them pumping themselves up for the next one.

They write it down

Walk into our facility and you will see a workout sheet in everybody’s hand. How do you know if you are moving more weight this week if you didn’t write down last week’s? Want to get stronger? Challenge yourself and move up 10 pounds from last week (assuming form and technique is spot on).

They all do the big 3 lifts

You know the ones I am talking about: squat, bench press, deadlift. Assuming you have no injury restrictions, these are a must if you want to gain strength and move better.

They EAT!

You won’t find a strong individual who eats once a day and feasts on salad greens. You have to eat a lot. I’ve been guilty in the past of the typical comment “dude I already eat a lot”. My response when I hear that now from some clients is this “well that may be true, you may eat a lot. But don’t confuse eating a lot with eating enough”. If the weight on the bar is not moving up and the weight on the scale is not moving up, then you are not eating enough. Period.

They are positive

Imagine getting under the bar for a bench press and your only thought is hoping it doesn’t fall on your chest. Not them, when they get under the bar the only thought is domination. That bar is most certainly going back up and with some force.

They don’t do endless cardio

No comments needed here.

They educate themselves

You are on the right track if you visit this site often. Find ways to educate yourself on lifting, nutrition, and recovery. There are endless amounts of resources online or through books from elite trainers. Find a method that works for you and experiment.

They are consistent

Dedicated lifters don’t miss lifts. If it’s Monday (known as National Bench Press Day in many places) you better bet they are showing up. You won’t find them hitting the snooze button for an extra 10 minutes of sleep. They are up and after it.

There you have it, my observations from training with people stronger than I am. Next time you go to the gym and see somebody stronger than you, ask questions and observe (just make sure you aren’t stalking them and copying everything they do). If the goal is to get stronger then follow those who are already there. Make sure you return the favor to somebody else down the road.

About the Author

Tim Geromini is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Fortunate enough to work with athletes from high school all the way to the professional ranks, every day is a chance to become a better coach.  Currently, Tim is an intern at Cressey Performance.