If you’re like me, you often find gym visits the most productive when you can put your headphones on, select your choice jams, blast the volume, and tune out everything around you except for each exercise and movement you’re partaking in. Is that an effective method? Absolutely! But are you maximizing your efforts at the gym? Maybe not.
Having someone at the gym to crush a workout with you certainly has its benefits, and I’m going to go in depth on what those benefits are. Then, to practice what I preach, I may have to call up a buddy of mine and hit the gym with a partner today.
- Accountability: Accountability is without a doubt the most obvious benefit of working out with a partner. How many times have you planned to go to the gym, then when the time approaches, you decide “I’m just going to bag it today, I’ll do some pushups between episodes of binge watching Game of Thrones.” That may be more personal, but you get the point.
Cancelling your own plan is easy. Cancelling your gym session when you have another person waiting to go to the gym with you is not. Having that obligation is going to force you to go to the gym whether you’re feeling 100% up for it or not. Game of Thrones isn’t going anywhere. Get to the gym.
- Motivation: Motivation is something that goes hand in hand with accountability. Once you actually choose to get up and make the trip to the gym, motivation continues. Again, we’ll use a hypothetical situation that I’m sure has never happened to you personally but maybe someone you know. You’ve just completed 3 exercises. You had plans for a 4th and then some cardio, but you’re pretty tired and you think to yourself that you definitely hit those first 3 pretty hard and it would be a beneficial workout already even if you don’t finish. So you go home.
Enter your workout buddy. You’re not going to try to justify such behavior as that to another human being. It may sound ok in your own head but actually sharing that is not something you want to do. So, you’re going to retain your motivation and crush the last bit of your workout.
Finally, maybe your workout buddy is the one that got you into fitness and is a great example of the physique you want or the healthy lifestyle you want to emulate. Being motivated to catch up to or be more like your workout partner is great!
- Spotting: Another obvious benefit, having a consistent spotter is going to help you get the most out of each set. A set where you get 8 reps and have to stop because you’re not sure if you can get the last one or two reps up without dropping a barbell on your chest, becomes a set of 10 where you grind out the 9th and maybe get a little assistance on that last rep. Using bench as an example, you also have someone to lift off and help set back down, taking away the strain of doing that yourself, and helping you focus your strength and power on the actual exercise.
Not only are you having a safer workout, but you’re able to increase volume because of those last few reps you couldn’t otherwise do. And honestly, sometimes just knowing someone is there lets you focus on the movements instead of having any ideas whatsoever on whether you can do an exercise safely.
- Healthy Competition: This is a huge benefit for me personally, because I’m a competitive guy. If my buddy has a 10 lb heavier bench than me, I’m not jealous, but inspired, to get my bench up to match and then exceed his. You’re going to be inspired to grind out those last few reps each exercise to maximize every set.
A great way to do this is through challenges. My friends and I occasionally do a total rep challenge where we take our body weight and use that to determine what weight we’re going to do max reps of in bench, curls, shoulder press, dips, and chin-ups. We record our total reps and see who pumped out the most. It’s a fun way to promote competition and personal growth. Every few months we can go back to it and see how each person has progressed.
Now, I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t put a disclaimer here. Competition is not a reason to have bad form, or to endanger yourself in the gym. That’s why I included the word “healthy.” Safety and form are still more important than doing more reps than your friend. Done right however, you’re going to have fun and increase your motivation as well.
- Variety: Both you and your workout buddy bring different knowledge and abilities to the gym. He may be big into calisthenic workouts and you may be more into traditional bodybuilding exercises. Mix it up! There are benefits to every type of workout, so maximize your training by utilizing both of your skill sets to change up your regimens.
A great way to do this is by using seasonal weather to determine workout types. Summer is a great time to go the calisthenics route. More and more parks have pull-up and dip bars that you can do a variety of exercises on (pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, muscle-ups, ab work, etc). Winter may not be the best time to head outside for calisthenics, so that’s when you can move inside and do your traditional bodybuilding or powerlifting exercises. Keep it fresh!
Bonus Reason: Couple Workouts
Since you’ve read this far I’m going to hit you with one more benefit of working out with a partner. In this case it refers specifically to your significant other, and actually has a lot of benefits to your relationship.
You get the same benefits as mentioned above, and also have the opportunity to strengthen your relationship. The most obvious is that you are spending time together and establishing an activity that you both enjoy and will find benefit from. Spending healthy time together is important, as is promoting health and higher quality of life not only for you but for your romantic partner as well.
It doesn’t just have to stay in the gym either. Getting healthier and in better shape means that you can implement other activities into your dates and time together. Scenic hikes and bike rides, rock climbing, 5Ks for charitable causes, couples sand volleyball tournaments, you name it. A new world of athletic date opportunities await. Grab your significant other and start making a daily gym date part of your schedule.
Stop Reading and Call Up a Gym Buddy
Whether it’s a significant other, best friend, or someone you know you can click with at the gym for mutual benefit, it’s time to step up your gym game by maximizing your time there with a like-minded partner. It doesn’t have to be every time you go to the gym. Like I said before, sometimes I like to block the world out and grind for an hour in the gym to relieve stress or have some alone time.
However, implementing partner workouts into your weekly regimen can only help you in your quest to achieve your fitness goals. So call someone up and enjoy the results!