There are pluses and minuses to working out with a partner – accountability – but that can go in both a positive and a negative direction – “The Push” – but again, that can go positively or negatively. Let’s take a look at not only if it’s worth it to work out with a friend, but ways that you can ensure not only your, but your friend’s success if you do choose a workout partner.
Let’s start off with some of the positives of working out with a friend:
It can be a great way to motivate you both to stay on track! No-one want’s to let a friend down, and more so, no-one wants to be the friend that encouraged you BOTH to give up. This leads to:
Less skipped workouts.
Because you don’t want to let your friend down (and vice versa), the chances are that even on days that you don’t feel motivated, you’ll be more likely to dig deep and work out anyway.
Less skipped exercises.
Related to that last point, it can be easy if you’re working out alone to decide that being bored, tired, or frustrated that a piece of equipment is being used by someone else is enough reason to skip an exercise, or worse to end your workout early. Having a friend along to push you can help ensure that you stick to your plan.
You’ll work out longer.
Simply because you have someone else doing the same things you’re doing, you’ll work out longer. You’ll ensure that you’re getting the right amount of rest between sets as well, because you’ll be waiting for your friend to finish. Also, the camaraderie will make the time go by quicker, so you’re less likely to quit early because you’re bored.
You’ll push yourself further.
Because you’ll either want to inspire your friend, or you’ll be inspired by your friend, you’re more likely to run further or faster, or lift heavier than if you were flying solo.
You’re more likely to try out new exercises or equipment.
Working with a friend will embolden you to try new things in your workouts. Maybe you’re not a runner, but your friend wants to clock a mile on the treadmill as a warm up before lifting, so you give in. Maybe your friend found a new exercise program that incorporates things you’re not currently doing. Either way, it will open you up to trying new things in the gym. New things lead to quicker results and prevents muscle memory, or your body’s natural urge to make things easier from slowing your progress.
The saying “no pain, no gain” is true – also true is “misery loves company”. Having someone right there with you through the pain of recovery is extremely helpful! Being able to complain about your aches and pains to someone who is experiencing the same thing is really helpful. Also, you may have tips for each other on minimizing, or avoiding some of your aches and pains.
Also helpful is having someone on the same program as you are when you go out and live life! For example, when in a restaurant with a friend who’s not working out with you, eating that chocolatey gooey dessert may be fairly tempting, but when out with your friend who works out with you, the temptation to go for the grilled chicken salad with light dressing on the side might also be as tempting!
Every up, has its down, and working out with a partner is no exception, even in the face of all the pluses listed above, there are some downsides you may experience – just make sure you’re not the cause of any of these downsides!
Gym Personality Differences.
What is your personality like in the gym? Some people are all business when they go to the gym, and others are fun and games. If you’re one way, and your friend is the other, then maybe that particular friend is a bad choice as a gym partner. You want someone who lifts you up and pushes you in the gym, not an anchor pulling you down.
If your goal is to increase your run distance, or to increase your size, and your friend is in maintenance mode, then working together may be difficult.
If your friend is a talker, or just not taking things seriously, not only will they ensure that you have bad workouts, they may piss you off, and actually damage your friendship – unless you feel the same. This sort of applies to the previous point of different goals, but the talker will ensure that your rest time is far too long, and if you’re serious about working out, this is a big problem.
If the pro of a partner is pushing each other, a lazy partner will have the opposite effect. “Hey, how about we skip the workout today and try out that new burger joint?” or maybe “I’m feeling tired, how about we skip the last 3 sets and head to the sauna?” This thinking is great for the socialite, but if you’re serious about working out, this thinking will torpedo your plans.
Missing workouts because your friend can’t make it sucks. Sometimes this is unavoidable – work runs late and people have emergencies, but if this is becoming normal, it may be time to find a new workout partner, or just go it alone.
O.K. Mr. Doom And Gloom, How Do I Do It Right Then?
A little preparation goes a long way! There are many great reasons to work out together, and the pluses can certainly outweigh the minuses, but planning upfront can really help make sure your experience is positive. Talk to your friend upfront and set some ground rules before ever stepping foot into the gym or a pair of running shoes.
- Establish your goals.
Why are you working out together? Is this a social thing? Are you trying to gain mass? Lose weight? -Run Further? Run Faster? Run Longer? The only wrong answer to any of these questions are answers that don’t sync up together. You both need common goals, or at least sympathetic goals that can work together.
- Establish your schedule.
What time of day will you work out? How long? If your activity is outdoors and the weather interferes, what do you do instead? What do you do if one of you can’t make it (go on without me)?
- Establish the rules outside of the gym.
Will you guys follow a diet plan together? How will you be accountable when you’re not together? What about meal prep? If you both like to cook, prepping together for each other might be fun (and save some money!)
- Establish personality / workout types.
This one is pretty critical in my opinion. If one of you is a talker, then the other needs a way to tell the other that it’s time to work if necessary. If you’re both talkers, high five, go to the gym – realize that it’s casual and any workout is better than nothing, and enjoy your casual time in the gym slowly bettering yourselves on your own schedule.
- Be the leader!
Remember, this is your workout too, don’t let your friend slow you down. If your friend isn’t sure what to do in the gym, don’t be afraid to take control and set up a program for the two of you. Don’t be afraid to shut down the chatter or to push your friend to hit it harder. Part of the beauty of working out together is the push you can give each other. You might be surprised if you push your friend and they return the favor when it’s your turn!
- Pick the right workout!
If you run marathons, and your friend is a beginner, or if you’ve been lifting for years, and your friend has never set foot in a gym, then you need to be realistic. You’re not working out together – you’re helping out a friend. You may need to schedule your own solo workouts on your own in addition to the work you’re putting in with your buddy.
- Make sure you’re pushing yourself.
Don’t get so lost in the partner side of the workout that your own workout is suffering. Yes, there will be times where you have to lighten or increase the load if you’re lifting, or run alone if your friend is faster or slower than you. This is OK! You’re doing this together, but at the end of the day, your workout is YOUR workout – not your friends. When you’re in bed at night, and the work is done, did you get the work that YOU needed? If not, then maybe you need to push yourself harder in spite of your friend. If your friend can’t understand that, then maybe you shouldn’t work out together (but in my experience, most friends totally understand this!)
- Don’t wait to long between sets chatting.
This is a really tough trap sometimes! Even for two serious people, you’re naturally going to chat with your friend – it’s part of what makes working out together fun! Just don’t chat for too long between sets and spoil the intensity of your workout.
- Don’t spoil your hard work with too much overindulgence afterward (guilty!)
This is one I’m guilty of from time to time. Its natural and fun to want to go out and socialize after a workout. Oftentimes this ends up at a bar or restaurant where it’s easy to eat the wrong thing, or overindulge in drinking and spoil some of the effects of your workout. Enjoy yourself and the camaraderie sharing hard work can bring, just don’t overdo it.
- Choose the right answer for you and your friend.
If working out with a buddy is too hard for you to do and see the results you’re wanting, or its too hard to be the leader, consider a group class setting instead. This will let someone else lead the workout and set the pace instead of you or your friend. Maybe its in addition to your solo workouts, and you and your friend go to a boxing class, or maybe the group class replaces the whole thing.
Yes, working out with a friend can be a great experience, but only if you’re both committed to the same goals – whether those goals are to see results, lose weight, or strictly for social purposes. As long as you’re both after the same thing, then it can be a fantastic win! Hopefully this article will help you – and your friend – have the best experience possible!
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