I’m going to make a case for why your training environment is the number one factor in reaching your training goals. The environment you train in, including the people you train with, will trump any programming, any nutrition or supplementation protocol, any variable you might think of regarding getting stronger. There is absolutely no substitution for training in the right place with the right people.
What makes a perfect training environment?
This questioned is answered on a very individualistic basis. The perfect training environment is unique to everybody. One gym does not fit all, and just because you aren’t a part of a very strong gym doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail. People find success in all different locations. We all have different personalities that determine where we will find our perfect training environment
I’ve trained in commercial gyms, basement gyms, top strength gyms, and where I’ve settled in on a more permanent basis as of late is the elite powerlifting gym Gaglione Strength in Long Island NY, where I also work as a strength coach. You can say I’ve experienced many different environments. They all have their benefits but the key is finding a location that you can honestly say you love being a part of and would travel hours on hours if you had to to get a solid session in. That is the mark of a top training environment. If the place you train in doesn’t give you a strong sense of pride or purpose then you will never get the most you can out of your training
I’ve heard of top lifters who prefer to train alone in a quiet environment, you may say thats not the norm but some people actually do their most brutal training in silence with nobody around. Others can’t do their hardest training without 8 guys around screaming and yelling. Some lifters are basement dwellers, they have basic training equipment in a home gym, they crank music loud, and they do hard honest work with the barbell. Each place caters to a unique personality. You need to expose yourself to all environments and find which motivates you to reach new levels
In my case I found I do my best lifting in the environment we have at Gaglione Strength. At 7pm many of our top powerlifters gather to lift. It is a lifting environment I have yet to find elsewhere. We have record boards in the back of the gym which is already enough to light a big fire under your ass to hustle hard. There are photos of nationally ranked lifters and elite athletes all over the walls. The gym motto is “All In”, I wear a wrist band day in day out to remind me to be “All In” when I commit to something. When I walk in the doors I know I’m in for a fight not only with the weights but with the people around me to be the top dog. It is an environment that inspires and motivates, no goal feels unachievable. This may not be the type of environment that motivates you but when you find that special place hold on to it and take what you can from it, do something memorable.
Just as important are the people you train with or don't train with. I heard a saying that you are the product of the 5 people you hang out with the most. If you are anything like me then that means most those people will be your training partners. I find the saying to be true, I do see aspects of my training partners inside me
Surround yourself with people that pick you up, not put you down. Life is too short to bother with negative people. When you are around positive people you know immediately by the influence they have on your life and training. You become stronger and more productive. These are the type of people you need to be around on a daily basis. Sometimes you need to break bonds with the people holding you back from your true potential and strength.
Great training partners push you to new levels. I am a huge proponent of surrounding yourself with people stronger than you. It pays to be the little fish in the big ocean rather than the big fish in the small lake. When you see someone achieve a new feat of strength you know it can be accomplished. Being out lifted is a humbling experience but it teaches you to never settle. Stay hungry and take the top spot. Everyone who has reached greatness will tell you that it is harder to stay on top than to reach the top. Keep finding people on top and keep climbing the strength ladder
I find I do my best lifting when I am locked into competition. Competition brings out the best in you. Even if I know I have no chance of winning, the competitive drive kicks in and I can always hit new weight records.
In the powerlifting world many people have tried to lift like those at Westside Barbell. Almost every powerlifter has heard of westside barbell and the conjugate method. The program is great and it works for a lot of people but in my opinion that is not what makes westside such a strong gym. It is the environment at westside barbell. People travel from all over to train there. You have some of the very best powerlifters in the world in one room. How often does something like that happen? The competitive drive must be unreal. THAT is why it is such a successful gym. The training environment is top notch, it is not just about programming. I want to to reiterate that so everyone understands. Every program has potential to get you strong, it is the ENVIRONMENT that makes the difference in the end. Training intensity reaches new heights and you get stronger as a result.
Nutrition and supplementation matter a lot when hoping to hit new personal records, however nothing will get you there faster than training environment. You can eat all the chicken and rice you want and take you creatine and BCAA’s everyday but if you aren't pushed to the next level where you train you will never achieve what you are capable of when you add in training environment. It makes that much of a difference.
If you want a kick in the ass like no other, go train at new places. You might discover something special. Great training partners are like family and a great environment is like home. There is no replacement and nothing will get you stronger faster than that!
- Coach Ben