Great Training Partners

Big Joe Williams

This past weekend, I was reminded what it’s like to have a great training partner.

I met “Big” Joe Williams back in 2000 as we had both joined the Ball State Powerlifting team that year.  I was a weak guy trying to get stronger; he was a converted bodybuilder that was looking for something new to try.

We started training together after our first powerlifting meet, the Blacksmith Open.  It was over Christmas break, and I clearly remember some ridiculous training sessions.  We would train sometimes 2.5-3 hours (hey, nobody ever said it was always the smartest training!), and barely say anything at all outside of coaching cues and words of encouragement.

I would come home, and my then girlfriend (now wife) would ask, “How’s Joe doing?  What’s he been up to lately?”

The crazy thing was, we would spent 2-3 hours together 3-4 days a week, but we really didn’t know much about each other at all!

That’s also what made it great.

We weren’t focused on making small talk, chatting about the weekend, or anything in between.

Our one and only goal was to push each other and see what we could accomplish.

I don’t really remember what we hit over the course of the next year or two, but I know that both of our numbers steadily climbed. And how could they not?  When your focus is that dialed-in, that laser-like, you really don’t have any other option but to succeed.

That’s what a great training partner can do for you.

My clearest memory of Joe competing was at the Blacksmith Open the next year, when he benched 353 and deadlift 501 pounds at a bodyweight of 165.

The craziest event was actually in between the two, on his final bench attempt. Joe was a really strong guy, and he took 369 down and brought it up to within an inch of lockout. At that point, the bar rolled in his wrists and actually came crashing down on his chest!

Needless to say, we were all a little freaked out.  Not a big deal to him, though, he came back and pulled a new PR of 5 bills!

Have you ever had a great training partner?  Someone who virtually guaranteed you of having great workouts when you trained together?  If so, I’d love to hear any stories or anecdotes below.

Have a great week!


BTW – Joe, if you ever read this, thanks for all the great sessions buddy.  I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you.


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