Research has shown that adults who exercise with a workout partner tend to stick with their fitness goals more than those who go it alone, and there are a number of other big wins that come with having an exercise companion.
That’s according to Avera McKennan Fitness Center trainer Luke Hahn, BA, CPT-ACSM, who said another person can be the “get after it type” motivation folks need when it comes to working out.
Keep Each Other Motivated
“It’s harder to say no to another person when it comes time to exercise, and the other part of a partner is they can make it more fun,” he said. “You might be able to fool yourself into skipping a day, but with a partner, it’s harder. Plus they need you to push them on those days they are less inclined to go run or hit the weights.”
Hahn said the stress levels go down when you are working with another person, too, even if the two of you are not working on the same exercise. “There’s a connection people feel when working out with another person even if they are unevenly matched, fitness-wise, that’s OK,” he said. “Research at Kansas State showed that when you work out with a friend who is more fit, you’re going to work out as much as 200 percent harder, and longer, than you would alone.”
Find the Right Fit
Of course, finding a good fit is important; no one wants to feel left behind by their buddy who already seems to be “Olympics” ready.
“We all have friends who are better fits for us to do certain things, and exercise is no different,” he said. “You can get out of your workout rut and reach more of your goals than you would on your own, but watch that competitive spirit. It happens to everyone.”
In fact, Hahn said a poll by Shape.com found that fourth-fifths of women tend to compete with the person on the treadmill next to them. So finding a good fit with a partner might take a few tries. (It will link to http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/are-you-too-competitive-gym.)
“Exercise should be about how you feel during and after, not how fast you can complete a mile, or who can do more repetitions on a strength exercise,” he said. “If you can push your partner, and he or she does the same, then you should be good. One side should not be the ‘trainer’ and the other the ‘student.’”
Training with a friend can help avoid injuries as well. They provide spotting on weights and can perhaps notice when you’re off your game, Hahn said.
“You might not see your back is sagging during a plank, and a good partner can let you know,” he said. “The biggest advantage to having a buddy is a willingness to try new things – that way you keep each other interested and share the time getting fit more as a team than as competitors.”
Hahn added there are many exercises a duo can approach together and will share those insights on this page in another installment of the Workout with a Friend topic.