Enjoying a workout with your better half or your friends can be a great opportunity for some quality time together, even if you have different fitness levels. Here are some of the numerous benefits and ways of exercising with family or friends.

Social benefits

Whether it’s just a sporting get-together or a social activity afterwards as well, you’re more likely to enjoy your session in the company of friends. Nowadays, everyone is busy and rushing around and the opportunity to take a little quality time out should not be missed. A group workout that leaves you refreshed and relaxed is fantastically therapeutic.

Fun time through exercise

Training with a friend is good fun and the fun element of your exercise sessions should not be neglected. You may have some serious training goals but it is equally important to enjoy and bring laughter into your exercise routine.

Improving your exercise workout

Competition with your training partner is a sure-fire way to give you that extra edge to push that little bit harder or further. Whether you’re looking to chop a minute or two off your race times or you just want to be your best, the extra incentive that competition brings is certain to help you improve.

Motivation through group exercise

You know your partner or friends well, particularly their strengths and weaknesses so you are in a great position to capitalise on this knowledge and motivate them when you can see that the going is getting tough.

They will appreciate your help because they know that your support is genuine. Also, the tables can be turned and you can benefit from their support as well.

Commitment to exercise

On those days when you’re not 100 per cent sure if you want to tackle your planned workout, because you’ve made an ‘exercise date’ with your partner or friends, you’re far less likely to ditch the session. You will not want to let them down and it’s likely that once you start your training session together, you’ll be glad that you made the effort.

Ideas for exercising with your partner or friends

When you’re thinking of the best way to train with your partner or friend, the key ingredient is to be imaginative with your training sessions. Now that you’re not ‘going solo’, you can get more out of each workout with just a little planning. Try out one of the following ideas to make the most of your exercise sessions together…

Hare and hounds running

It doesn’t matter if you both have different fitness levels, just try this workout for a really competitive, quality workout session.

  1. Pick a short circular route, perhaps around your neighborhood or local park, ideally with some open space so that you can see your training partner.
  2. Calculate your separate predicted finishing times for say five consecutive laps.
  3. Subtract the slowest predicted time from the fastest.
  4. The slower runner sets off first.
  5. After the difference between the two predicted times calculated in 3 above has elapsed, the faster runner starts.
  6. The session is finished when both runners have completed five laps each.

This type of workout is extremely motivating as the ‘hare’ tries to stay ahead and the ‘hound’ races to try and catch the hare. As your fitness levels change, simply tweak the start times slightly and for further variety, vary the number of laps.

Gym partner sets

Another great motivator, whether you are matched with your partner or not, is to train in sets with your gym partner. It helps you to train effectively together and enhance each other’s workout.

  1. Partner one executes their first resistance-training exercise.
  2. Partner two sets up the weights or equipment for partner one’s second exercise.
  3. As soon as partner one finishes their exercise, partner two takes over.
  4. Whilst partner two trains, partner one prepares partner two’s next exercise.
  5. This process is repeated with each partner helping the other.

This session is extremely dynamic and minimises wasted time in the gym. Neither partner can duck out of their next exercise because they’re not setting it up! Additionally, always having your partner in close proximity means that safety is covered and you always have a motivator close at hand.

Al fresco active

This session is ideal for a group of friends and different levels of fitness are easily catered for.

  1. You all meet up at your local neighborhood or park.
  2. Each person brings a list of three or four exercises.
  3. Each exercise is carried out for a pre-determined time, say 30 seconds, followed by an agreed rest period, say one minute.
  4. One group member starts by demonstrating their first exercise and then everyone executes it for 30 seconds.
  5. The second group member nominates and demonstrates an exercise, after which everyone follows.
  6. The circuit continues until everyone has completed their list or if the group is large, everyone has completed two exercises.

With this session, the rule is that everyone works at their own pace and level. Because of the variety of exercises, no-one is likely to be strong at them all, so every group member can do well.

A motivating element of the al fresco session is group members bringing in new exercises for each session. Exercise ideas include: press-ups, tricep dips, sit-ups, alternate leg squat thrusts, sprints, back extensions, there are endless choices.

As with any exercise session, don’t forget to include a warm-up and cool-down with these exercise ideas, so that you get the most out of the session and to ensure you don’t risk pulling cold muscles.

By partnering up with friends or family, your workouts need never be dull, and as well as bringing additional training benefits, they are great social opportunities; before - as you prepare for your session, during - as you motivate each other during the session and afterwards - as you relax after your session .