When I am at the gym and the programming has either Olympic lifting or powerlifting, I always make a point to stand next to the strongest person. I stand next to the person who has great technique, and who usually hits a 1 rep max on a lift when they go for it.
More recently in Ironman training, the pools can sometimes be full since there are only three lanes. The best way to get in when there are people swimming in all three lanes is to ask one of these people to share a lane. Guess which person I am going to ask to share a lane? The one who swims fast, has great technique and who goes for distance.
Why do I want to be around people who are hitting PRs (personal records) in the gym and swimming fast in the pool?
It challenges me and makes me grow in my athleticism!
If I see a person try to do a clean and they get that lift, then I am going to go next and hit my lift. If I watch someone fail on a lift, then I am not touching that barbell until I see someone positively lift the weight. If you have been plateauing in the gym and are unable to hit certain PRs, then a trick you could use is to watch people who positively hit strong lifts, and then follow suit. We all know who the leaders are in the gym, and no matter your strength or athletic ability it’s important to watch them and absorb their gains.
When I jump in the pool lane of someone who is faster than me, they push me to swim faster and not slack. If I swim in a lane with someone who is slower than me, their speed does not challenge me and may cause me to swim at a more lackadaisical pace.
I have tested this before, and my 100 meter pace went from a 2:05 pace to a 1:58 pace while swimming in lanes with people who are faster, even though our workouts are different.
This strategy is not rocket science and is nothing new, but it can make a huge impact for those looking to grow in their fitness and athletic abilities.