Training the Training Partner

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Summer is coming. Yes it will! Unless you are in South Africa or Australasia of course, when it will shortly be going away. Tough luck!

We all want to look good, especially for beach holidays. A lot of guys fantasise about being the guy that turns all the girls heads (or boys, if so inclined!). All those locker-room selfies when you think no-one else is around…

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Most then do nothing about it, and shudder at the thought of removing their shirts in public. Or they hesitate because they see themselves as ‘thin and skinny’. Strangely, many guys looking at themselves in a mirror see a thinner body than actually exists. We ‘thin ourselves down’.

But look what is possible, however skinny you may be at the start:

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David Laid is a bodybuilder who is very prominent on the internet. He decided to do something about his body big-time, but we don’t all need to be bodybuilders as such. We want to become stronger, and look good. We want our bodies to work for us in whatever sport takes our fancy. And, for many guys here in USA at least, that starts with a few weights in the basement, or in a shed:

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At this time of year, sheds can be cold places that don’t invite shirtlessness. Basements, which often house the boiler, are generally warmer. Now let me introduce a recent correspondent, who has started working out, usually with a friend (not always the same one), in a basement. They’ve been wearing trackies including tops, but this guy has been ‘inspired’ by all the talk of naked training on this blog and the freedom that brings, and desperately wants to give it a go, with his friends, but is scared to suggest it. OK, friend, not a problem. Let’s take it in easy stages.

First of all, be barefoot when you greet your friends. Always. I am assuming here that you are not stupid and will not drop weights on bare feet. I promise, that hurts, and public gyms usually demand trainers to be worn for this reason. But kicking off street shoes to enter a friend’s home is quite normal… just make sure that, in the basement, they lose the socks as well by following your example. And that is the key. “By example”.

First advice: shorts, not trackies. Gym shorts (i.e. short shorts) are best, but it is not important. Then warm up with a few bodyweight exercises – jumping, running on the spot and so on – then get stuck into some lifting together, ‘spotting’ each other to make sure there are no issues with dropped weights and so on.

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When you are really warm, just pull off your own shirt and throw it to one side. Don’t be self-conscious… and Don’t make any comment – just carry on with the training. This is absolutely important: your friend will think that your action is perfectly normal and not worth you even mentioning it. Carry on lifting together and, after a short while, most likely he will do the same. Boys like to ‘conform’. Again, make nothing of it, unless he “asks permission” or something. At most, just say something like ‘Yeah, I prefer shirtless too’. Innocuous. If he doesn’t do it the first session, don’t push it. After about three sessions, though, where you have taken the lead and he has not followed, just throw in a remark like ‘Don’t you wanna take yours off too – feels good when you’re sweating!’ Which is, of course, perfectly true.

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In our experience, in gyms and other scenarios too, shirtlessness is contagious. It takes just one guy to make the effort, and others will follow. This is very noticeable at the gymnastics center: a couple of boys are always the first to throw their shirts aside or roll down their leotard tops, then the others feel secure to do it too.

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You work to make ‘shirtlessness’ feel ‘normal’ in your environment. In our home, when my son Leo has mates round and they retreat to his room, it usually looks like this:

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Another idea is to suggest at the end of your training session together – ‘Let’s go for a cool-down run’ – and set off shirtless (maybe you better use your trainers, though we often don’t) – again making shirtlessness, and the willingness to be seen shirtless in public, seem like the ‘norm’.

It is also very important for training partners to have trust in each other. Not just in terms of ‘spotting’. Straight or gay or one of each, training time should be strictly about training. But touching one another should not be inhibited – things like just running a finger down your mate’s six-pack and saying ‘Starting to look good, Jack’ or whatever. You can also use each other for bodyweight resistance – simple things like sitting on your shoulders for squats or sitting on your back for calf raises. There should be no inhibitions about the arm around the shoulders…

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…either in the training situation or when just together doing something else…

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Yes, shirtlessness is fine even at night, if the location is warm enough!

01And, of course, it is natural for boys to engage in ‘fun’ wrestling – and you are already shirtless, so this will further remove inhibitions about ‘touching’.

So, a few training sessions in, in your basement or shed, with this mate we’ll call ‘Jack’. Time to make the final move and, before you do, make sure that parents, siblings or whoever aren’t going to burst in on you. It’s hard to lock a basement. Just say something like ‘Jack likes training with his shirt off but he’s a bit self-conscious…’ – no lies, but it is really you who doesn’t want to be disturbed at this stage. You’re already cool about working out shirtless together and making comparisons of your muscle development…

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…and the two of you have developed trust so that you can be confident that neither is going to mouth off about the other. This time, you take the initiative and say something like ‘Jack, I’ve been reading about guys who train naked and say its a fantastic feeling. Do you mind if I try it today? Note, “I” – NOT ‘Do you wanna try it?’ You must make the move yourself. And do not ask your friend to do the same… again, lead by example. If he hesitates but clearly wants to join you, you can re-assure him. Jack, I know you’re not going to go tell everyone about me, and I won’t do that to you either.’ Read the situation carefully and, if it is clear that your intended action upsets him, leave it at shirtless and barefoot.

You could also compromise short-term with underwear…

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…something Russian boys seem happy to do in public and with each other…

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…and this despite being indoctrinated by the Russian state and their upbringing that ‘gay is evil’, so there is no association there of such images with ‘gayness’. They even appear naked together, and in public sometimes too, and not always in the warmest of situations…

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My own introduction to training naked was somewhat more abrupt than described here, being invited by my now-partner Dave to join him, his brother and his brother’s partner in a training cabin which we still use every day after our teen kids and their friends have had their before-school session. You can read about that early learning experience here:

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Just click on the cover to find links to the publisher – and there are e-versions of all three of my books too.

So, Mr Anonymous Correspondent – I hope that this helps you are your mate(s) to develop the trust and long-term friendship which can lead to sharing our training experiences as well as help you to develop the muscle and strength you obviously desire from your message to me. I finish today with a few more images which may give additional inspiration!

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wheel

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And, to finish, a ‘beach-ready’ body. Hurry along, summer!

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About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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