Exercise With a Friend: Motivational Perks and Tips

Key Points

  • Exercise with a friend to enhance your workouts.

  • Workout partners provide motivation, support, and accountability.

  • Exercise with a friend virtually or in person.

  • Find the right exercise partner, plan your workouts, and enjoy occasional rewards together.

Do you need an extra push during your workouts? Are you tired of always training solo? Do you constantly drag yourself to the gym? Exercise with a friend and reap these benefits.

While studying and meditating are best performed alone, that’s not the case with exercise. Your odds of success are much higher with a reliable support system. Exercise with a friend to stay committed to your goals.

What Are the Benefits of Exercising With a Friend?

Both introverts and extroverts need human connection, and a partner makes fitness more enjoyable. Working out with a friend inspires you to break out of your shell. Trying out new exercises, fitness classes, and instructors isn’t as intimidating with a trusted partner by your side. If you fail miserably, at least you fail together. Plus, friends teach you new ideas to incorporate into your solo workouts.

They’re even great for emotional stress relief. Vent, decompress, share stories, open up about life’s struggles, or discuss your day. Hello, free therapy.

A gym buddy reminds you not to take yourself too seriously and — most importantly — to have fun.

Group of girls in workout clothes

Get Accountable

Imagine: You groan at the first buzz of your alarm clock. You were sleeping so soundly, but it’s already 8:15 am, so you have to get up. Why? You're supposed to meet your bestie in 45 minutes at Pilates class.

You unlock your phone to shoot them a text.

You: Good morning! Don’t hate me… but I’m exhausted today. I might miss the Pilates class. 

BFF: You sure? 🙁 I might cry if you do. 

You: I’m trying to get up, but I’m practically glued to my bed.

BFF: What if we eat at your favorite brunch spot after? C'mon, you know you want to. 😉

You: Lol. This is why you’re my number one. Only for you. 

BFF: What are friends for? Now get your booty out of bed. See you soon.

What greater accountability could the sleepy version of you ask for? Pilates and pancakes? Um, yes!

Get Consistent

Exercise partners keep you honest and consistent. There’s a lot more on the line when someone you love and respect is counting on you. The fear of letting them down empowers you to conquer your excuses and form healthy workout habits

Bonus? Ditch awkwardly asking a total stranger to spot you during a bench press. Your workout buddy knows your training tendencies — when you desperately need relief and when you want space to complete that final rep. They provide safety and assistance while allowing you to do things your way.

Get Motivated

Exercising with a gym buddy transforms your workout experience. Not only do you gain the motivation to show up, but you also train longer and harder. Their presence, work ethic, and encouragement push you to overcome mental barriers. 

Two friends ready for workout

The result? You hit impressive PRs and milestones, and these perks lead to better — and faster — fitness results. 

Is It Better To Train Alone?

It all comes down to personal preference. Psychologist Thomas Plante advises, “If you want to have a low-stress, contemplative, relaxed experience, then you want to exercise alone. But if you want to have an energizing, engaged, and socially uplifting experience, exercise with others.” 

Pros of Working Out Alone

  • Train at your own pace.

  • Customize the workout to your needs, goals, and limitations.

  • Face fewer distractions.

  • Build self-reliance and discipline.

  • Call all the shots: exercise duration, intensity, type, and start time.

  • Sweat your stress away privately.

Cons of Working Out Alone

  • Getting started is intimidating, especially for beginners.

  • Mental battles are more challenging to fight alone.

  • You lack accountability and get away with skipping workouts.

  • You don’t have assistance.

  • Workouts become tedious and robotic.

  • Group classes are less fun. 

  • You place limits on your capabilities.

Prefer exercising alone? More power to you. However, it’s nice to spice things up now and then. Partner workouts are challenging and rewarding, and you can always revert to solo sweat sessions anytime. 

What Activities and Exercises Can You Enjoy With a Buddy?

The real question is: What activities and exercises can’t you do? If anything, partner workouts open up a whole world of possibilities. Double the people, double the party. 

Friends after a workout

Are you both cardio lovers? Go walking, running, or dancing together. Play a game of tennis, volleyball, or basketball. Take a yoga, spin, kickboxing, boot camp, or Pilates class. Try weightlifting or completing an intense bodyweight circuit. 

These activities help you shred unwanted body fat, generate lean muscle, and burn a bunch of calories. 

Check out these easy-to-do partner exercises (no equipment needed).

Plank With High-Fives

Start by facing each other, and get into a high plank position. Align your shoulders with your wrists and spread your fingers apart. Activate your core by pulling it upwards, toward your spine. 

While holding your position, lift your right hand and high-five your partner. Place it back on the ground and repeat with the opposite hand. Synchronize your pace to match your partner. Try not to let your midsection wobble too much. Keep it firm and restrict your core movement as much as possible. 

Aim for at least 30 seconds on your first round, but adjust the duration based on your fitness levels. The high-five element burns your biceps and shoulders.

Pro Tip: Music is your number-two bestie, right after your workout partner. Play an upbeat song for both of you to jam along to; the more you dig a tune, the less likely you are to fall out of your planks. Heck, you may even stay up longer than planned!

Friends exercising together

Medicine Ball Twist Passes

Begin by sitting back-to-back. Bend your knees and plant your feet firmly on the floor, shoulder-width apart. 

Grip the medicine ball with both hands, keeping the ball aligned with your stomach. Rotate your torso approximately 90 degrees to the right. At the same time, your partner rotates their torso 90 degrees to the left.

Hand them the medicine ball and twist back to your starting position. Repeat the rotation and medicine ball hand-off in the opposite direction. 

Focus on moving your midsection, not the medicine ball; the ball will move naturally with your body. 

Set a timer for 60 seconds and try to fit in as many reps as possible. This exercise fires up your core and back.

Partner Leg Raises

Your partner begins standing with their feet shoulder-width apart. You start by dropping to the ground and lying flat on your back. Place your head between your partner’s feet and grab each of their ankles. Lift your legs in the air, parallel to your partner’s body.

From here, your partner pushes your feet downward. The catch? You must use every ounce of your core strength to keep your feet from touching the ground. 

Let your feet hover about one to two inches above the floor, hold for a few seconds, then shoot them back up toward your partner.

Strive for 15-20 reps, then switch roles with your partner.

The end is the hardest part, especially with the added resistance from your partner’s leg throws. Breathe and take it one rep at a time. Get ready for a fierce ab-burner. 

How To Exercise With a Friend?

Exercising with a friend isn’t complicated. All you need is to find the right workout partner, plan your workout logistics, and enjoy occasional rewards afterward. Follow the steps below to get the most out of partner workouts.

Pro Tip: Working out at home? Does your exercise partner live far away? Not a problem. Thanks to modern technology, location isn't a barrier. Hop on a video call and cheer each other on as you mutually pursue your fitness goals.

Find the Right Workout Partner

Above all else, you need someone whose goals, schedule, and dedication match yours. Having a workout buddy that has slightly better endurance than you do helps you overcome fitness slumps and motivates you to bring your “A” game to every session.

Perfect Partners

Your ideal workout partner is positive, disciplined, knowledgeable, and highly reliable. They follow through on their promises and support you in all seasons of life. 

You should feel comfortable around your gym buddy. They hold you accountable but still let you take necessary rest days. They pay attention to your body language, recognize when you’re having an off day, and respond by redirecting your mental energy to your workout while offering grace. 

Group exercise class

Your future workout partner prefers activities that you both enjoy. They’re your biggest cheerleader and challenge you to be the best version of yourself! 

Be prepared: They expect the same energy and attitude from you.

Not-So-Perfect Partners

Some red flags to be aware of include your workout partner exuding negative competitive energy, making you feel insecure about your fitness level, or pushing you too far. If you seriously dread training with them, lose focus during sessions, or cancel often, think about finding a new partner.

Planet Fitness trainer Theodore Savage says that if your workout buddy “takes away from the experience, and doesn’t provide an added sense of comfort, inspiration, FUN, and camaraderie, then that person may not be the best match as your workout partner.”

Pro Tip: There’s a difference between quitting and realizing that your body has had enough. Know your limits and communicate them to your partner.

Plan Your Workouts

You and your partner need a good time, location, and workout activity. When planning the logistics, pick a time that suits both of your schedules. Try to be flexible when last-minute obligations arise. This courtesy goes both ways. 

Choose a convenient location.

Decide whether to workout in-home or at the gym, an outdoor park, or a boutique studio.

If you have in-person sessions, consider taking group fitness classes like CrossFit, Zumba, Pilates, or SoulCycle. You both stand to gain friendships, community, accountability, and incredible motivation.

When training outside a gym, bring the necessary materials for your workout. You can find yoga mats, dumbbells, resistance bands, medicine balls, and kettlebells online or in most local stores. Don’t forget a water bottle and sweat towels. 

Are you exercising virtually? Join an online platform and sign up for the same classes. Peloton, Tone It Up, and Camp Gladiator have unique virtual communities, and they even offer live and on-demand courses that undoubtedly make you feel the burn.

Choose your workouts together.

Determine which type of workout you intend to do, and take turns creating the exercise routine to keep things fair. Designate certain days for specific muscle groups. 

If you train six days a week, exercise your arms, back, and shoulders on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, work out your legs and core. On Fun Fridays, take an uplifting group class. On Saturdays, train your entire body. Sundays? Rest and recover.

Adjust and modify your mutual training schedule as needed. Design workouts that are attainable yet challenging. Encourage each other to take at least one rest day per week.

Enjoy an Occasional Reward

Life gets chaotic, unpredictable, and downright stressful. It’s hard enough to squeeze in routine workouts, let alone enjoy a little “you time.” 

However, treating yourselves to a post-workout reward is doubly gratifying. You just nailed a workout, and now you can kick back, unwind, and bond with your workout partner outside the gym. Bonus? Strengthening your relationship improves the quality of your workouts.

Group of friends doing plank exercise

Treat your workout partner to coffee, brunch, or dinner when the opportunity arises. Invite them to get a pedicure, enjoy a massage, or go on a fun shopping trip. Who doesn’t love to get pampered?

Friend dates like these are unique and fun. Bundling them with your workouts establishes a positive association with fitness, helping you both stick to your long-term goals. 

Friends Who Sweat Together, Stay Together!

Sweating, struggling, and grinding your way through intense workouts is so much better with a swole mate. They motivate, keep you accountable, improve your athletic performance, and expedite your progress. 

Throw in a few smiles and laughs, and you get an elevated surge of endorphins. 

Give partner workouts a shot, whether with a close friend, relative, romantic partner, or virtual buddy. The physical, mental, and emotional advantages are more than worth it. 

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