Maybe you enjoy an occasional long run by yourself or perhaps you like cycling solo, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for friends in your workout routine. In fact, if you’re trying to make exercise a habit or you’re hoping to hit a specific goal, a friend could be a big help.
If you’ve always been a solo gym-goer, maybe it’s time to find a friend for your workouts. We’ve outlined the fitness benefits of working out with a friend and some of them just might surprise you.
In addition to keeping you accountable, friends can provide an extra boost of motivation when it gets tough. Everyone has those days when they just don’t feel like going to the gym and those times when they want to call it quits, friends can offer encouragement to keep you going. Just be sure to return the favor.
On top of learning some new solo exercises, a partner can help you broaden the scope of what you can do. In other words, you can do exercises that require two people. Think crunches with a medicine ball pass or partner push-ups with a shoulder tap—the possibilities are practically endless.
If your workout partner is a bit fitter, faster or stronger than you are, you might be in luck. According to a study by Kansas State University, people who worked out with someone they perceived as better “increased their intensity and workout time by as much as 200 percent.” How’s that for a little friendly competition?
Working out alone can leave you stuck in the same routine with the same moves, but when you partner up there are more options. Not only can a partner point out some new exercises, but they can let you know when a particular routine is getting stale and then help you switch it up.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about hiring a personal trainer but just don’t have room in your budget for a series of solo sessions; a friend might be able to help. Hiring a personal trainer for the both of you will lighten your individual cost and as long as you and your friend are at similar fitness levels with related goals, the session should be just as beneficial as a one-on-one appointment.
Working out with a friend means you have a built in spotter. Your buddy can count reps, check your form and help you make adjustments before they become painful mistakes.
Those who have hit the gym with friends know that it’s usually more enjoyable than going alone and several studies have reached that conclusion too. One study in particular surveyed 117 people using their phones to ask what they were doing, who they were with, where they were, how they were feeling and more. The results suggest that people enjoy physical activity more when they’re with their friends.
When you take into account all the listed benefits that friends bring to your workout routine, it’s not hard to see that you’ll be able to reach your goals more quickly. The added accountability, competition and fun that friends bring to exercise will keep you motivated.