Many people treasure their workouts as solo time to get pumped for a big day ahead, or conversely, decompress from a day that seemed like it would never end. But don’t underestimate partner workouts! Not only do they make a great bonding activity, they can be a boon for your health, too: “Having an accountability partner in your fitness journey will help you achieve your fitness goals faster,” says Jamie Adams, R.D., R.Y.T., of WellnNourishedMamas.com. “Working out together with your significant other improves your emotional and physical intimacy as a couple, deepens connection, and enhances communication all while achieving your fitness goals, leading to happiness in your relationship and personal mental health.”
Below, five ways to make your partner workouts your best workouts.
1. Experiment together
“Instead of just hitting the gym, make it a habit to try new classes together and different forms of fitness,” says John Gardner, C.P.T., a NASM certified personal trainer and the CEO and co-founder of Kickoff, a remote personal training platform. Gardner suggests rollerblading, kayaking, kickboxing, swimming, and hiking to get the wheels turning, but talk to your better half to brainstorm ideas and settle on something you both would enjoy. “Changing the scenery, trying out something new, and having great company will add a variation and fun aspect to your workout and allow you to share experiences together.”
2. Create a Partner Challenge
Ready to get those competitive juices flowing? “Create a seven-day steps challenge to see who can get in the most steps by the end of the week,” says Adams. “The winner of the challenge gets treated to a fun date night of their choice.” Adams recommends setting time aside in the morning or night to get a brisk walk in together during the week-long face-off to get some of those steps in together, too.
Another nice way to add some competitive energy into working out with your sweetheart or family member is to have a speed competition, offers Gardner. “Compete against each to see who will be able to finish the workout first. This helps increase the intensity, reduces rest time between exercises, and really fires up the muscles.”
3. Do an Interactive Workout
Engaging your partner in your workout can be both fun and supercharge your workout’s effectiveness. “Instead of just working out with a partner doing the same workout, use your partner as part of the workout. This means that while your partner is doing 10 burpees, you’re holding a plank position,” says Gardner. “This motivates your partner to put their maximum effort to help reduce the time you’re planking.”
For an interactive workout, Gardener says couples can do three sets of the following together:
- Partner A: 10 burpees; Partner B: squat hold (switch)
- Partner A: 50 jump rope; Partner B: plank hold (switch)
- Partner A: 20 alternating lunges; Partner B: tricep dips (switch)
- Partner A: 25 jumping jacks; Partner B: hollow hold (switch)
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4. Create the Perfect Playlist
Whether you opt for tunes that are a walk down your relationship’s memory lane or pump-up songs to take your lifting to new heights, don’t underestimate the power of a good playlist. When you create it together, it’s also a nice chance to bond. “Create a playlist together with a mix and match of each other’s favorite workout songs. Head to the gym (or workout from the comfort of your own home) together with your partner playlist playing on in the background,” says Adams. “When one of [the songs you picked comes on, you get to choose the workout move while your song is playing.” When it’s your significant other’s songs playing, let them decide the next exercise you’ll tackle.
5. Take a spin at partner yoga moves
“Deepen your emotional and intimate connection with these partner yoga poses to start or end your day together,” says Adams. Here are some of her favorites:
- Partner Breathing: “Sit back-to-back with one another in a comfortable seated position. Interlace your arms with one another. Begin to breathe alternating with your partner; so as you inhale he or she will exhale and vice versa. Continue for one-to-three minutes.”
- Partner Twist: “Sit back to back with one another in a comfortable seated position. Inhale and arms reach overhead. Exhale and twist to the right, bringing your right hand to the inside of your partner’s left knee and left hand to the outside of your right knee/thigh. Your partner mirrors the movement. Hold for three-to-five- breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.”
- Partner Forward Fold: “Sit back to back with your partner on the ground and your legs straight out in front of you. One partner will reach for their toes in a forward fold position while the other partner lays their back on top of the back of the one folding forward to help deepen the stretch. Practice deep breathing throughout. Hold for 30 seconds or more.”
- Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold: “Face one another seated in a straddle position with legs out wide. Your feet should be pressed together. Bend at your torso and reach towards your right food. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.”