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How to Train with a Friend

Courtney Gordner considers the benefits for you when training with a friend or a group of athletes.

One of the best decisions you can make after deciding to start training is choosing a partner to train with. Many studies have shown that working out with a partner or a group ensures that you will work harder and longer than you would if you were doing it alone.

Freedman (2013)[3] identified several factors that this could be attributed to:

  • Healthy Competition: Training with someone else brings a sense of competition to the workout. When you see your friend squeeze out that last rep, you will be more likely to try harder during your set.
  • Cheaper: If you need to invest in a coach or a personal trainer for your fitness goals, splitting the cost with your partner is a nice benefit.
  • Accountability and Encouragement: When you are working out with someone, they are invested in your success. You cannot just decide to stay in bed and not go for a run when you know your partner or running group is waiting for you. When you think you cannot possibly run one more mile, they are there to cheer you on…or drag you through it.
  • Health is Contagious: Cameron (2007)[1] showed that obesity might be socially contagious. Conversely, so might a healthy lifestyle. By hanging out with fit and healthy people, their habits can rub off on you.

Getting a Good Fit

As in life, you want to choose your training partner carefully. You want someone who will challenge and encourage you. You don not want someone who will blow you off after the first workout or anyone who shouts “In your face!” after they blow your dead lift record out of the water.

Be mindful of your partner's ability to keep commitments and their availability. Joe might be a great guy who wants to train for a triathlon, but his third shift schedule will probably throw a wrench in things. Your sister-in-law is gung-ho now about training for that half marathon, but you have seen her give up on Zumba, Pilates and TRX classes.

Choose someone who can follow through with a commitment and who shares your interest. If you're thinking about tackling an open water swim, look for training partners with workout pools, instead of an extensive collection of cycling gear.

Scheduling

Be up front with your partner about how much time you are willing to devote to a training program — and do not overestimate it. Decide on a schedule together and then put it in your calendars. Once a task makes its way onto your calendar, you are more likely to complete it, even if it is exercise.

Here are a few tips on sticking to a workout schedule:

  • Cut Out the Interruptions: Make sure your family and friends know that this is workout time. It is not, “send a dozen texts, make dinner plans or strategies your parent-teacher meeting time.” If you need your phone for your workout, keep the ringtone and text alerts on silent.
  • Always Be Prepared: Get your gear together the night before so you do not spend precious time digging for your goggles or lifting gloves.
  • Do not Over schedule: Those of you who are hard-core athletes need to keep your training out of the “overwork” zone. This is when injuries are more likely to occur.

Athletic Ability and Encouragement

You will get more out of your training if your partner is slightly better or more athletic than you. Saunders (2013)[2] found that individuals worked out longer when they had the perception that their partner was more skilled and voiced only minimal encouragement. Researchers thought that participants might have found constant encouragement from a better skilled athlete to be patronizing.

Plus, if your partner has more experience, you can be motivated to pick up the skills faster and learn “insider” tips to improve your performance. So pair up and get moving. Your body will thank you.


References

  1. CAMERON, D. (2007) Obesity is Contagious [WWW] Available from: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2007/07/obesity-is-contagious/ [Accessed 23/11/2013]
  2. SAUNDERS, M. (2013) Optimal workout partner encourages less to motivate more, says university researcher [WWW] Available from: https://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/may13/workoutpartner5713.html [Accessed 23/11/2013]
  3. FREEDMAN, S (2013) Six Reasons to work out with a partner [WWW] Available from: https://www.mensfitness.com/training/six-reasons-to-work-out-with-a-partner [Accessed 23/11/2013]

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work then the reference for this page is:

  • GORDNER, C. (2013) How to Train with a Friend [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article153.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Courtney is a freelance writer who loves writing about everything from health fitness to recovery treatment.

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