A good training partner is not a cheerleader. In fact, I don't care for too much cheering when I train. I know what I need to do and I find cheering, yelling and screaming more distracting than motivating. This is true especially during skill work, but during intense conditioning we all need some encouraging motivation. But, if that is what you like, it might be exactly what you need to push your training further, to each their own. A good training partner is someone who helps and motivates you to get better, period. This is by telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Everybody likes to be told, "good job," but if what you did is actually crap, you need to be told so, and further more, you need to know what to do to fix it.
That leads to my next point, get a qualified coach to guide your journey. This is so important if you are serious about getting better. There are so many reasons for getting a coach that I can't even begin to list them all in this article, but feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section and we can discuss it. Just a few reasons are that you will be held accountable for your actions and progress. You will not have to think about where to start or what to do next, your coach will guide your journey, so to speak, you just have to put in the effort. You will get instant feedback on your successes and your failures. If you did something great, you should be acknowledged or rewarded, but don't expect a balloon party every time you get a PR. With hard work you should expect PR's, but don't expect the whole room to stop what they're doing and cheer because you did something good, you're supposed to do something great daily. Sometimes a quick smile and nod to acknowledge the achievement is all you need. On the other hand, if something is wrong, a qualified coach will see it, acknowledge it, and address it accordingly. If the coach just makes you do more of what you are doing wrong, then you will get really good at doing shit the wrong way. That is not a qualified coach, that is a crook who is stealing your money. This is a huge problem in the fitness industry today, too many people talk the talk, but can't walk the walk. Its cliche, but true, you simply can't become an expert by spending money on a quick certification via the internet or weekend course. It takes years of studying, training, and time in the trenches, there is no substitute.
Lastly, using a camera is a good way to review your training technique and see what needs to be addressed. You can check your posture, your foot positions in olympic lifting, your lockout in kettlebell training, your back position while deadlifting, etc. The list is endless. The problem is that there is no instant feedback. You do the exercise and either check the camera while training, which detracts from training intensity, or you check after training and the stimulus is removed from the moment that the issue occurred. It's like yelling at a dog 2 hours after he chewed up your shoes, but the dog has no idea why you're yelling. While the feedback from a camera is still good, it is not the same as the instant feedback you get from a coach who fixes you on the spot, instead of the issue getting addressed later on or the next training session.
To get back to the original point of this article, does technique need to be perfect to get the benefits of your training? Yes and no. Beginners will never be perfect, so does that mean they shouldn't train because they might injure themselves? Of course not. No matter what your skill level, everyone should always be striving to get better at all times, maintenance is a fucking joke. If you really want to improve, all aspects will need to improve, including skill, intensity, technique, volume, etc.
Below is a video of Giavanni Ruffin, former running back for East Carolina University, during his first training session at TSS. Giavanni is a stellar athlete and is looking to go pro at his chosen sport. That means he is not afraid to do what is necessary to improve his abilities. The following video is his finisher after a hard training session. You will notice that some things are not perfect in his training. But, I knew from his ability what he was capable of doing. Being a Division I running back has extreme demands, so I knew he was up the challenge. After doing some basic mobility drills and making an assessment, we did some power work, then strength work and added in a few supplemental exercises. Then all I did was present Giavanni with a finisher that I knew would be demanding, fun, effective, valid and challenging. He was more than willing to accept the challenge. This is usually how I present it to the athlete, "Here is your job," or "Here is your challenge for the day..." I know what their needs are and I know their capabilities. Now I want to see them work hard. Recording the training allows me to review it with the athlete and show them what they need to work on. Now they can see it with their own eyes what is good, what is bad, and what needs to be done to get better.
In conclusion, being perfect is not important, but always trying to get better is imperative. Never think you are the best, right now someone out there is doing the work that you aren't doing, and they will beat you when you meet. Always train like you're in second place. Push hard for that extra edge. Never dwell on your mistakes, just acknowledge them and take action to get better. Being naturally talented is a great gift, but there is no substitute for hard work and dedication with a strong desire to be successful while taking the necessary action to get what you want.
If you are the kind of athlete or coach who takes action when an opportunity presents itself, then you know what I am talking about. Take a free week trial at our private membership website and see what we have to offer at The Consummate Athlete today. We are constantly updating it with new and useful training information to enhance your skills and help you achieve your training goals. We currently have 3 separate training programs going right now to suit any particular individual needs you might have. You are guaranteed to benefit or just cancel your trial membership, super easy, no hassle, no qualms.