REPRINTED FROM FITCRUNCHBARS.COM
Maybe you’re having trouble staying motivated. You find yourself skipping workouts or just going through some easy motions.
Solo truly is a four-letter word when it comes to fitness.
Of course, there are those athletes who push hard and train alone. The majority of people actually do improve their fitness levels when they workout with a partner.Here are the benefits of pairing up for the big sweat and tips on how to find the right workout buddy:
- A WORKOUT PARTNER GETS YOU THERE.
Everyone knows how it goes: You have the best intentions to workout tonight or at the crack of dawn, but then life intervenes. A deadline looms, a friend calls or you just don’t have the energy after a long day. When you’re just accountable to you, it’s easy to put your fitness plans on hold. Your athletic shoes sit gathering dust.
A study from Stanford University found that the simple act of receiving a phone call could boost the amount of exercise you actually do by 78 percent on average. It’s one thing to disappoint yourself and skip the gym, but quite another to tell that voice on the end of the line that you’re not going.
Your partner will do for you what you will do for them: Provide the catalyst to put on those shoes, pound the pavement, get on that bike or sit down on that bench and grab a weight.
With technology today, it’s easy for workout partners to even Skype or Face Time each other. Do you really want to look at your workout buddy and say, “I can’t tonight because …well because.” Also, partners make a workout plan more concrete. You won’t just say: “Well, I’ll workout five days a week.” You will say: “We’ll workout together on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Just making it to your workouts is the first step in becoming truly physically fit. All the days you would have missed without the partner become a moot point because they’ve convinced you that you need to show up. Trainers will tell you that the more you actually are consistent with your workouts, the faster you will see results. And results will want to make you go to the gym. Talk about a win-win.
- A WORKOUT PARTNER MAKES YOU TRAIN HARDER.
There are those days when you’re at the gym where you feel a little tired or rundown. You’re not really going to the max when it comes to your routine. Or perhaps you’re on the treadmill checking the time every three seconds, wishing you could just get out of there. You turn the incline way, way down. Or you step off those stairs before you break a sweat.
Your workout buddy is great motivation. Humans are naturally competitive, and sometimes all it takes is a quick glance to the side and see what she’s doing on that bike to kick yourself into higher gear. Most gyms have tracks, and if your workout buddy is running circles around you that might be enough of a challenge to really turn up the heat.
Workout buddies are also great in classes such as yoga and spin. Instructors might ask you to put more resistance on the bike or try a new yoga pose that seems impossible. It’s easy to opt out and think, “I can’t do it.” If your partner is giving it a shot, studies show that you’re more likely to go with the flow and join in, too. Suddenly, a certain pose in yoga isn’t so impossible and you’re getting a “congrats” from the instructor. Your buddy can also see you do it and give you a welcome nod of approval.
Good or bad, competition just ups your performance levels. This is a healthy thing for most people. In fact, a recent study found that exercisers actually do perform better when they’re paired with a partner who is in better physical shape. The report went on to say that a partner who is in 40 percent better shape is the perfect partner because his or her level isn’t unattainable. It’s like dangling that next fitness goal right in front of your face and daring you to rise to that level.
- A WORKOUT PARTNER KEEPS YOU SAFE
There are times when a workout partner is the difference between injury and staying safe. In fact, think of your workout buddy as your own personal bodyguard.
When it comes to physical safety, men and women working out outside can always benefit from having a partner run, bike or swim alongside them. We’ve seen news stories about joggers who were attacked by outside parties. A partner can easily help you avoid those frightening moments because people are rarely attacked in twos.
In the case of many outside activities like skiing and swimming, a buddy can help make sure that you don’t get into real trouble. Maybe you think that solo 6 a.m. swim is a great idea, but it’s always a better one to have another swimmer there in case there is an issue.
In the case of biking, a partner is invaluable as was the case of a Washington D.C. woman who wiped out on her mountain bike and needed an ambulance. Even minor issues like a flat tire or an ankle twist are much more manageable with someone by your side as your workout wingman or woman.
In the gym, a partner can easily spot you when you’re doing weights or bench presses or certain arched yoga poses. A second set of eyes is also helpful to check your form during certain exercises. Maybe you’re lining up wrong for a lunge and you don’t feel it. Your partner can notice it and help you make necessary corrections. Or in a certain class perhaps your form is a one-way ticket to a back injury. Your workout friend can fill you in and act as your mirror.
Make sure that both of you listen to trainers and instructors when it comes to form. Your workout buddy should be someone who opts for safety over ego, and wants this workout journey to be a lifelong practice. Your partner can also give you a little ribbing when your ego gets in the way. He can tell you that it’s not worth it to lift that weight and get injured today vs. work up to it over the long haul.
- A WORKOUT PARTNER HELPS YOU ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS.
Find a workout partner who has similar goals to your own. Perhaps both of you hope to reduce body fat by 30 percent. Or you want to train for a local marathon that’s taking place in the next six months. If your goals are in sync then you’re both working for the same end result with a program tailored to get you there.
As a team, you’ll also be open to adding new ways to achieve your goals such as taking a stretching course to become a better swimmer or Pilates to strengthen your core for an upcoming Triathlon. The ideas will constantly be flowing as your partnership races towards the finish line.
Your partner will also help out during times when working out becomes boring. Yes, you’ve biked ten million times around the neighborhood. As partners, strap those bikes on the top of someone’s SUV and head to the mountains for a weekend to really switch it up. You’re not likely to do that by yourself. Just taking a new route in your city with your partner is enough to really re-commit to your goal.
As a partner, you’ll want to stay on the same path and won’t allow your mate to fall behind with missed workouts or excuses. Your role will be to act as a support system and a cheerleading squad. Yes, you understand it’s been a tough week at work, but that’s no excuse for missing tomorrow’s six a.m. run because the race is in six weeks. They’ll also keep track. You missed two workouts last week. They know – and you know they know. On the flipside, your partner cut their running time by a minute: You’re the first one to say congrats.
It’s much easier to reach any goal when you have someone pushing you towards it. It’s also better when you know that any laziness on your part might actually hurt your buddy’s chances of succeed.
A workout buddy is that nudge that many of us need to finally achieve our fitness goals.
- A WORKOUT PARTNER MAKES IT FUN.
There’s nothing like a solid workout partner to make this journey a fun one. It doesn’t take a study to know that when exercise is enjoyable, you’re going to do it on a regular, committed basis because it’s a staple of your new healthy life.
As for the fun part, your workout partner is someone you look forward to seeing at the beginning or end of the day. They know about your life and you can chat about it when you’re at the gym. You know about each other’s husbands, wives, kids and dogs.
Your partner and you can laugh about what happens at the gym and all the characters you meet along the way from that crazy new instructor to that girl in yoga who stood on her head and twirled when you were supposed to be in a downward dog. A gym is its own village and your workout partner is your best neighbor.
Your partner in fitness also experiences life with you. He is the one you run through the streets with to celebrate that first break in the weather. Or perhaps she’s the one who laughs when you both figure out a new machine at the gym. Your partner has your back when you’re not 100 percent or going through something difficult. They are the ones who tell you to sweat it out and leave your day at the door.
Sometimes looking forward to seeing your workout partner is why you’re going to the gym. An hour or so of letting off steam, having a talk and sweating sound like a pretty great way to spend your time. Afterwards, it might be time for a steam together or a soak to talk about what you just accomplished.
Many workout partners are actually good friends who do a lot of outside of the gym activities together from family events to workout vacations.
It’s important to find a buddy who you like as a person as this is a significant relationship in your life. In many cases, this will be one of your more enjoyable lifelong relationships as you both achieve your journey for great health.