The Training Trio: Are 3 Partners a Crowd?

In a blog last month, I covered the 4 Big Benefits of working out with a training partner. But does the old maxim that “two’s company and three’s a crowd” apply to gym workouts? Some people would say so, but we all know three isn’t a crowd if it were to come to a scene from or similar sites. The disadvantage of a training as a threesome is obvious: an extra training partner can slow everything down. With two partners, both are always occupied – one is doing a set while the other is spotting, and vice versa. It’s easy for two partners to get into a steady rhythm and there’s no excuse for extended rest periods. Nobody is ever standing around with nothing to do. With trio training, one partner is always neither doing a set nor spotting. That’s when a talky partner can become a distraction, diverting the spotter’s attention – a potential danger – or simply slowing down the overall workout pace.

But the advantages of trio training can be significant, too. Here are 3 suggestions for making the most of a training trio:

1) Find a rhythm. Rather than allowing an extra training partner to slow things down on a given exercise, use three partner training to keep you on the clock. When partner A is doing a set, B is spotting and C is counting reps on the sidelines and ready to change the weights when and if needed. Then, partner B does a set, with C spotting, and A catching his or her breath and getting the weights ready for a poundage change. As partner C starts a set, partner A spots, and so on. There should be no delays. Rather than slowing things down, trio training should keep everything moving along without delays.

2) Eliminate the “down” time between exercises. With three partners in a workout, moving on to the next exercise should be more quickly accomplished. While the last partner in the roster is doing the last set of an exercise, the partner who isn’t spotting should be staking claim to the next station and setting up the machine or bench for the next exercise. Other than being the “advance scout” for the next exercise, each member of the trio should stay together and stay focused from the moment a body part training session begins until it ends. At no time should any partner “disengage” from the workout or walk off to chat with anyone else in the gym.

3) Use giant sets. Trio training is perfectly suited for choosing a sequence of 3 exercises in prompt succession. These “giant sets” can be performed toward the end of a training session for a particular body part, after you do the heavier compound movements. For example, with chest, after heavy flat bench presses and incline bench presses, set up 3 stations: pec deck, incline flyes, and cable cross-overs. Each partner can begin the giant set on a different station. Upon finishing the exercise, each partner moves promptly clockwise to the next station and begins that exercise, and so on. The rest between exercises should be no more than the time it takes to move to the next station and catch a few breaths – 30 seconds or so. Complete 3 cycles of the sequence and feel that pump!

The right third partner can add a fun dynamic to the mix. Having a trio of training partners can also come in handy when one partner can’t make it to the gym due to illness or work/family obligations. It’s less likely you’ll ever train alone. Try it and see!

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