Research shows that having a workout partner can increase your motivation, encourage you to work harder, and help you hit your goals faster. Exercising together can also increase happiness and strengthen relationships.
In other words, friends/couples who run together, stay together.
But what if one of you is faster, or in better shape than the other?
Not all workouts are created equal. When training with a friend or significant other who isn't quite at the same fitness level, you might find yourself in one of these two situations:
1. Your partner isn't as fit as you. They get winded while you're still warming up, and you have to constantly stop and wait for them to catch their breath. You go at a slower pace than usual, and even then you might end up cutting your normal routine short.
2. Your partner is much fitter than you, and you're worried about slowing them down. At the end, you're drenched in sweat but they look like they could still run a 10k and you wonder if they even got a decent workout in.
But don't worry, it doesn't mean your workout relationship isn't going to work out. The solution is to simply scale your routine to make it more equal for both parties. Whether you're the tortoise or the hare, check out our tips on how to make your fit-lationship work for you.
WHEN YOU'RE THE FASTER ONE...
(Gif by Robert James Reese, Runner's World)
Maybe you have a friend who's just starting to get into running, and maybe your significant other isn't as much of a fitness nut as you. What's challenging for them might not be challenging for you. But slowing yourself down so they can keep up doesn't mean you should get a subpar workout.
- Make your breaks active
If your running partner needs to take a 3-minute breather after every mile, keep your heart rate up by using that time to pump out some squats or jumping jacks. Or if you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty, go for some pushups or burpees!
- Shift your focus
Professional athletes will sometimes train at a lower intensity on purpose so they can focus on improving their form, technique, breathing, pacing, etc. Whether you're out for a run, or pumping iron at the gym, there's always something you can improve on aside from simply going faster or harder.
- Add extra resistance
Adding resistance is a great way to slow yourself down while also making your workout harder. If you're in the gym, go for a heavier dumbbell or increase the settings on your ergometer. If you're outside on a run or doing bodyweight drills, gear up with a pair of Physiclo resistance pants
that feature built-in resistance bands to make each step more challenging, as if you're running under water.
WHEN YOU'RE THE SLOWER ONE...
Working out with someone stronger or faster can often motivate you to work harder than usual, and your partner can also give you tips to improve your form and enhance your routine. Of course there's no shame in being slower or being unable to complete an advanced workout, but you might be able to keep up with more than you think.
- Stretch more and watch out for injuries
Research has shown that working out with someone thought to be better than ourselves boosts our endurance and intensity by as much as 200 percent. But when you go harder than you normally do, the downside is a higher risk of injuring yourself. So take some extra time to stretch thoroughly and stop if anything doesn't feel right.
- Set a realistic pace
If your partner is speeding along at a pace you're not comfortable with, tell them to slow down. If you try to force yourself to keep up, you'll quickly overload your muscles with the by-products of burning glucose faster than your body is able to clear. It's better to pace yourself through a long workout than to burn out and not finish at all.
- Follow the leader
Follow your running buddy from behind and let them keep track of the pace and choose the best path along your route. This will save you valuable mental energy that you'll need for the later stages of your workout. It's the same reason why marathons have designated "pacers" to lead other runners to specific finish times. As a bonus, they'll also block any headwinds, saving you a bit of extra energy.
- Get creative with resistance bands
One way to equalize your workout is to have you and your partner both hold onto a single resistance band while you run. When you start to fall behind, the band will help pull you along while giving your partner some extra resistance to power through as they run ahead. Any kind of resistance band will do the trick, although the longer, looped bands
If that sounds a bit embarrassing to do in public, you could also consider buying them a pair of Physiclo resistance pants
instead! The built-in resistance technology will help slow them down (so you can keep up) while keeping their muscle engagement and heart rate high.
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
In the end, regardless of who's faster than who, working out together is a win-win. Don't get discouraged if you aren't as fit as your partner (or vice versa)!
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