Why You Need Training Partners to Succeed

NOTE by Mehdi: this post was written by StrongLifts Member Jake McMillan (18y, Canada, page 187 inside the 5×5 report) who currently holds the British Columbia records with his 600lb Squat and 600lb Deadlift.


[Training partners] are the key ingredient. If you train by yourself good, you get your workout in, but you didn’t go anywhere.

In order for you to have success in lifting, it’s just like a football team: you have to surround yourself with like-minded people. You’ve gotta find powerlifters that want to compete at the state, national, world level[….] the collective of the group builds the individual… launches the individual!

– Donnie Thompson, elite Powerlifter and 1200 pound Squatter.

In November of 2009 I competed at my first powerlifting meet. I had trained hard leading up to the meet, relying on info and programs I had learned about on Stronglifts.com. I remember hitting my first two Squat attempts with ease, but now I was nervous going for a new PR of 410 lbs. I was sitting in the back room doing my wraps, when Bob came up to me and said, “you don’t know how to wrap your knees, do you?” Obviously I wasn’t going to argue with this guy, so he told me to take the wraps off, and then got his son to wrap my knees.

I went out there and made my squat easily. Later I thanked Bob, and then he set me up with another powerlifter, Dave, who I still train with to this day. Bob told me to come train with both of them on Sundays. Later I learned that he was a pretty damn good lifter who had been to the World Championships several times, hanging out with guys like Ed Coan and Kirk Karwoski. I was very fortunate to meet someone like Bob at the beginning of my lifting career!

With these new found training partners, my motivation was at an all-time high. I couldn’t wait to go to the gym and learn from these guys. Both of them had lifts that I had only dreamed of achieving. But I learned to stop dreaming when Dave set up a training program for me for an upcoming meet that included lofty goals: I was expected to progress faster than I ever had! In a way he was my coach. But that’s why training partners are so great, they push you toward your goals, and you have someone that you will not want to let down.

While training for the meet, we worked a lot on my technique… another bonus of having knowledgeable training partners. We changed my squat up quite a bit, my bench press a lot, but my deadlift was pretty good. This was very valuable as technique takes a long time to master, but I was able to speed up the process this way. This is due to verbal cues from my training partners. Dave drilled it into my head to “SIT BACK!” and “CHEST UP!”. I ended up surpassing all the goals he had set for me, minus my bench, in which I just met the goal.

I trained almost entirely by myself for my last meet. But when competition time came, every lifter I’ve ever trained with came out to support me. I wouldn’t have had the success I had at the meet without them. Next week I start training for the upcoming Strongman season. My 5 training partners and I train out of a garage, and I’m very excited to train with stronger lifters again.

If you expect to make it far in strength training, or get really strong, you’re going to have more and faster success if you surround yourself with other lifters. Where’s a better spot to find anyone who’s achieved your goals than a powerlifting meet full of lifters of all ages? Go watch or compete in a meet.


This is a post by StrongLifts Member Jake McMillan (18y, Canada) current BC record holder with his 600lb Squat and 600lb Deadlift. StrongLifts Members, follow his training log inside the StrongLifts Community.

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