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Tips for Working Out With a Partner or Friend

NOV. 10, 2022
Are you looking for a way to make your workouts safer and more enjoyable? Consider exercising with a partner or friend.
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Teaming up with a workout partner can offer several benefits, including greater accountability, increased motivation, and more excitement. But, being part of a productive team involves following certain guidelines. If you decide to pair up with an exercise partner, keep these tips in mind:

Choosing the Right Workout Partner

A good workout partner can make a big difference to your exercise program. To find the right person, look for someone with a lifestyle and fitness level close to your own. Comparable workout experience and knowledge also benefit an exercise partnership. Here are a few more tips for picking the right workout buddy.

  • Choose a friend or partner with exercise objectives similar to yours.
  • Look for someone with a compatible schedule.
  • Find a partner who has a serious side and a sense of humor.

friends high-fiving

Creating a Plan

Communication is key to creating a good workout partnership. Before sealing the deal, talk about and agree upon expectations. Questions to discuss include:

  • How often will you work out?
  • Where and how long will you work out?
  • Do you want to plan workouts in advance? If so, should you take turns planning?
  • Do you enjoy talking while you exercise?
  • Do you want your partner to hold you accountable for each workout with a confirmation text or phone call?
  • What are some of your unique preferences when working out (i. e. you like to wear headphones when running, you don't enjoy group fitness classes, you believe workouts should be cell phone-free)?

Focusing on Individual Training and Goals

Even though you're working out with a partner, it's important to continue to stay focused on your own training and goals. To set workout goals for yourself, make sure they are realistic and measurable. Write your goals down and note how you'll meet them and how much time you think it will take. Along the way, use positive self-talk and visualization to make your goals a reality.

Tips for Spotting a Workout Partner

If you're into weight training, having a partner that can spot you is a luxury. Having a spotter means you can lift heavier weights because you'll have someone to help you get through the last few challenging reps. Another advantage of having a spotter is receiving pointers about form. To make sure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to spotting, agree on a few rules:

  • The spotter should be able to handle the weight being lifted when in their spotting position.
  • The spotter should have adequate knowledge of lifting techniques so they can tell when a lift is failing.
  • The lifter should communicate the noises, gestures, or words to be used in case of a failing lift.

Working Out With a Partner Above or Below Your Workout Level

Working out with a partner means that one of you will be faster, stronger, or more fit than the other. There are advantages to both scenarios. For instance, if you're a faster runner, you can use the slower pace of your partner to improve your form or run a longer distance. If your partner needs breaks in the gym, use that time to stay active with squats, situps, jumping jacks, or burpees.

If you're on the low end of the totem pole, take heart. Research shows that working out with a partner (either in-person or virtual) whom you perceive as superior can increase your motivation to achieve new levels. This phenomenon is known as the Kohler effect.

Maintaining Healthy Competition With a Workout Partner

A certain level of competition keeps workout partners motivated. One way to maintain a healthy rivalry is to change up your workout with different activities. For example, if you work on spinning bikes one day, switch to circuit training the next, and then mix it up with one-on-one basketball, you'll both have an opportunity to shine. Just make sure you choose activities you both enjoy. If you feel like your workout partner is too competitive, it may be time for a break or a breakup.

How to Break Up With a Workout Partner

If you feel like it's time to move on from your workout partner, have an honest conversation. In lieu of breaking up entirely, you might suggest going to the gym together but each doing your own thing. Or, you can reduce the number of days you exercise with your partner and increase the days you work out alone. If you decide you need a total break from your partner, start with a temporary one and make it permanent later on if needed.