With January here and New Year’s resolutions fresh on the mind, many of us might be hitting the gym in the hope of achieving a healthier and more active 2020. But contending with cold nights, post-Christmas melancholy, and the lure of a cozy evening in can easily put a damper on even the most well-intentioned plans.
If you’re feeling a winter slump in your workouts, then a gym buddy might be the perfect way to give your routine a pick-me-up. Research shows that exercising with others has a marked impact on individuals’ commitment and consistency in their routine, and can increase workout time and intensity by 200 percent if they’re working out with someone they think is better at it than they are, according to NBC News..
So grab a fitness-focused friend and try out these fun workouts designed for two:
1. Design an alternating circuit
If you’re in the gym alone, then you might be tempted to stick to the treadmill rather than utilize all of the space available. After all, doing kettlebells on your own in the corner of the room can get a little lonely.
Make the most of time with your workout buddy by designing a circuit that uses alternating sets, taking it in turns to do each exercise. For example, you could do a minute of press ups whilst your buddy does a minute of mountain climbers. Take a short rest and then switch, repeating so that you each do each move three times for a high-intensity workout before moving onto the next pair of exercises. This is a much more sociable and varied way of working out than sweating for half an hour on the crosstrainer, and means that you’ll be able to hold each other accountable for completing your planned workout.
2. Sign up to a new class together
Been eyeing up that Zumba class but too nervous to go it alone? You’re not the only one. Exercising around others can be intimidating — in fact, one study suggested that up to 65 percent of women avoid the gym because they’re scared they’ll be judged, as Fitness reported. Factor in a brand-new type of workout and a class-load of people who all seem to know what they’re doing, and you have a formula that can be pretty anxiety-inducing for some.
Rope your workout buddy in to test out a new class with you. This will boost your confidence, and you’ll also have an ally who is similarly new to the format and exercises to figure things out with.
3. Use equipment to game-ify your workout
Having a partner in the gym can have a massive impact on the kind of moves that you can do, and the equipment that you can use. Make your workout more game-like by incorporating in moves and challenges — for example, you could pass a medicine ball between you whilst doing sit-ups and see how many you can do in a minute, or do 100 squats tossing a medicine ball to each other each time that you reach the top. Resistance bands are also a great piece of equipment to use with a partner, and there are plenty of exercises that you can use them for to utilize your workout buddy.
4. Design a home workout for two
If you’re working out at home and don’t have much equipment, then a partner is a great replacement for fancy workout aids. Try an ab workout using your partner to provide resistance, or to add a fun twist to otherwise static moves. A leg raise is also a great no-equipment way to work on your abs — get your partner to stand behind you whilst you lie on the floor, grabbing onto their ankles. Keep your legs fully extended and lift them until they are perpendicular to your body; your partner should then gently push them back to the ground, adding resistance to a simple exercise. You could also do a a reach-and-plank: hold yourself in a high plank position opposite each other and high-five with alternating hands whilst holding your position for as long as possible.
5. Squeeze in an early morning workout
If you always promise yourself that you’ll squeeze in a gym session before work but then find yourself snoozing your alarm, then a gym buddy could be the secret to finally keeping your word. Having a workout partner makes us more accountable, and we’re much more likely to stick to our plans if dropping out last-minute will inconvenience someone else.
One study showed that people who participate in fitness programs as a duo have a roughly 6 percent dropout rate compared to 43 percent amongst those who exercised alone, per Women’s Health. With such a significant difference, it seems only logical to couple up in the gym for the hardest (and yet perhaps most beneficial) times of the day to exercise in. You could even reward yourself with a tasty brunch after an early weekend workout.