It’s pretty widely accepted that having a reliable training partner can help amplify your results in the gym. There’s an accountability that goes along with having someone suffer through the same workouts as you. But getting fit with a buddy or significant other doesn’t have to stay within the rigid confines of the “you spot me, I’ll spot you” relationship. There are ways to make things more dynamic and interesting so that you can both make tons of progress without being bored to tears.
1. Buddy Curls
One of the oldest partner tricks in the book is also one of the best. Grab a barbell that you can handle for eight to 10 reps. Standing in front of your training partner, you perform one rep, then hand them the bar so they can perform one. Work your way up the ladder like this to 10 reps, then go back down to one. One partner tends to be weaker than the other and will benefit from having a spotter right there. The stronger partner still gets a high-volume, rest-minimal biceps thrashing. For a tougher go, make this your biceps finisher.
Instead of asserting bragging rights over who has the bigger bench, try a day in which you test each other’s relative strength and endurance by seeing who can do the most reps with their bodyweight. Or you can go the bodyweight route, taking turns to see who can perform the most pull-ups, push-ups or squats in a single minute.
How’s your cardio routine these days? What’s that? Oh, you run 30 minutes on the treadmill? Tell us again how that’s fun? Running sprint intervals has been shown in numerous studies to burn more fat while preserving more muscle than traditional steady-state runs. To get past the torture of sprinting on a conveyor belt, head out to the track with your training partner and race. Try four to six laps on a track, racing the straightaways and sprinting the curves. Loser buys the postworkout shakes.
4. Resisted Sprints
Because sprints can’t be overvalued, you should always try to find ways to run faster. The leg drive that it takes to run Usain Bolt–like times on your sprints can be built on partner day using dedicated elastic bands, long belts or even towels. Wrap the resistance of choice around your waist and have your partner grab the ends behind you. When they say “go,” you explode out as fast as possible while your partner provides resistance. To overcome the resistance, you have to be aggressive with every stride — it will require more effort to cover less distance. Try trading off on 25 yards of resisted sprinting, no rest between sprints, for five to six sprints each.
5. Fireman Carry
Loaded carries build a ton of functional strength and endurance. Farmer walks and suitcase carries are good examples. But if you sling a buddy over your shoulder and “sprint” a distance, your legs and deep core musculature will take a beating. To make a workout out of it, select a distance and alternate carrying each other that distance, covering the ground as fast as possible for 10 total runs (five each). Note your time. Next workout, you have to break that mark by 10 seconds.