They say it takes two to tango. The truth is, there are loads of activities that are made better with a partner, not just dance! For many people, one of these activities is working out. Some athletes even find that hitting the gym and exercising is much more effective with a buddy than solo since it helps both parties stay accountable and motivated.
Who Should I Pick For My Gym Buddy?
Your gym partner will play an important role in your life. You will see each other grow and work, lift one another up, and bond in ways you never expected. When it comes to finding a good match for you, we recommend you consider the following factors:
If you can’t stand your colleague’s offensive jokes, you won’t enjoy his company at the gym either. Go for someone you like to spend time around, even if you aren’t super close.
If you’re looking to build muscle, it makes sense to find a gym buddy who wants the same result. Otherwise, you’ll be looking at very different workouts.
Let’s say that you’re a ‘tough love’ sort of person: a super-sensitive gym buddy might not be a good match. Accountability is good— hurting feelings because of miscommunication is not.
What are Some Workouts That I Can Do With a Partner?
There are countless workouts that can be done with a partner. We’ve narrowed it down to some of our favorites. That said, there are plenty more where that came from.
This fun partner workout will require a resistance band that has a handle on both sides.
To perform the squat see-saw, face your partner, with each of you gripping one of the resistance band handles. Stand straight up, with your arms stretched overhead. Have your partner drop into a squat while pulling the band down and between their legs.
Switch poses, and continue to go back and forth, like a see-saw, for at least 40 seconds.
While you still have your resistance band handy, we’d like to introduce you to the partner heel tap. To perform it, lay on your mat, facing upwards. Your partner should be standing at your head, holding both handles of the resistance band. They will keep their knees bent and core engaged throughout this exercise.
Lift your legs up and into a ‘tabletop’ pose. You want your shins to run parallel to your mat. Your partner will then hook the band around both your feet.
Engage your core and slowly lower your feet to the mat. Tap your heels to the ground, and then lift yourself back up and repeat.
Switch places, when you’re ready.
We hope you haven’t put that resistance band away yet— we have another workout that relies on this handy little piece of equipment. Here, you’ll need two resistance bands. It’s worth it— squat jumps really do make for an excellent partner workout.
To perform, face your partner. Both of you should hold your own band, with a hand holding each handle. Introduce tension to your band by extending your arms straight out and giving it a pull. At the same time, both of you should engage your core, lower into a squat, and then jump up. Once you’ve landed on your toes, repeat the movement.
Tip: On the odd day that your buddy can’t make it to the gym, you can still perform this one solo.
This effective partner workout requires a medicine ball.
To perform, begin by standing back-to-back. Secure yourselves into a low squat position, with your thighs parallel to the mat beneath you. Grab the medicine ball and hold it to your chest. Use your upper torso to rotate to the left side and pass the ball over to your partner. They will, in turn, rotate right to grab it from you. Then, you’ll rotate to the right, as they pass the ball over to their left.
Repeat for 10 reps, then switch directions.
This routine is somewhat similar to the previous workout we outlined, with a few key differences, mainly regarding your stance. The twist pass will require the use of a medicine ball.
To perform the twist-pass, begin about two feet away from your partner. Face away from each other. Give yourself a wide stance and keep your knees slightly bent. Using both hands, hold the medicine ball and rotate to your left side, passing it to your partner. They will twist to their right side to retrieve it, before moving back to their left to pass it off to you. You, in turn, will rotate to your right to retrieve it.
Repeat in each direction for 20 seconds at a time.
While you’re still using that medicine ball, we thought we’d include another partner workout that utilizes it. The lunge to chest pass is a fun workout to perfect with your gym buddy.
To perform, stand at a distance from your partner. You want to be 5 feet away, minimum. Hold the medicine ball to your chest and engage your core. Keeping your back straight, move forward into a lunge. Your back legs should remain at 90 degrees. Your partner will do the same. Once you’ve both lunged towards each other, push the medicine ball from the center of your chest over to your partner. They will receive it, step back, and then repeat.
After 10 reps, switch sides for your lunges.
Not all partner workouts require equipment! In fact, lots of workout teams choose to use each other’s body weight as a living piece of equipment. The wheelbarrow squat push-up is a (super impressive) example of that.
To perform this routine, climb onto your mat and get into a plank position. Be sure that your core is engaged, your arms are straight, and your shoulders are aligned with your wrists. Then, have your partner grab your ankles to take on a ‘wheelbarrow’ pose. Lower yourself into a pushup. At the same time, your partner will come down into a squat. Return to your starting poses.
Repeat 10 times before switching positions.
This routine is enjoyable, requires no extra equipment, and is a satisfying skill to hone with a partner.
To perform, face your partner before both getting into a high-plank pose. At the same time, perform a push-up. When you come up, tap each-others left shoulders using your right hands. Continue this, switching arms with every push-up.
Aim for at least ten reps for this workout.
This partner routine has a similar idea to the shoulder tap push-ups, but utilizes a different workout. It’s a great starter routine for athletes with less experience: though it’s intensive, it’s easy to learn.
To perform this pose, begin by facing each other in a high-plank position. You want to be about a foot apart. Lift your right arms and reach for each other’s left shoulders. This will be a quick movement. Repeat the same move with your left arms.
You’ll want to aim for at least 8 reps on this one.
We love this partner workout: it’s sort of the adult version of leapfrog!
To perform this routine, climb into a plank position on your mat. Engage your core, keep your back straight, and make sure you’re in a comfortable pose— you’ll hold it for awhile. As you plank, your partner will stand at your feet before making a lateral jump over your ankles. After landing on their toes— as lightly as possible— they will immediately jump back to the other side.
Do this for half a minute. Then, switch positions.
Whether or not you choose to work with a partner, Jack City Fitness is your number one spot for exercising and feeling great, right here in Boise. Our gorgeous facility is home to all the latest athletic equipment, a crew of passionate fitness and nutrition coaches, and a host of classes and activities for our partners to utilize and enjoy. Plus, once you sign up with us, you’re entitled to 24/7 gym access so that you can work out on your own schedule.
Ready to get moving? You can get started today, even if you’re practicing social distancing: we offer custom online training sessions to our partners. Get in touch with us today— we can’t wait to see what you’re made of!
It was just this morning. I was in my usual morning daze, coffee in hand. Focused on making my way to the break room, I overheard a conversation that immediately provoked me from my coma-like state. “I can barely walk because my legs hurt so bad,” they said. It was not that I wanted to eavesdrop on the conversation, but it was my client participating in a group class. In that moment, I certainly hoped I was not the cause of the alleged leg pain as it had been at least three days since we last trained. Naturally, I tuned into the remainder of the conversation. Long story short, the culprit was a ridiculously high volume of back squats the day before. OUCH! The inadvertent eavesdrop session left only one question: why?
Throughout an individuals’ life, and regardless of professional athlete, exerciser, or straight-up gym enthusiast, everyone has a goal. A reason they do what they do. Maybe it’s dominating Boise’s 13-mile uphill race, Robie Creek, a little faster this year. Perhaps that next powerlifting or weightlifting competition has your name on it. Or maybe, you just want to feel and move better.
Nevertheless, a goal has been established and you have given yourself a reason, a why. One thing I want to make clear: goals are not without challenge. Goals are not without pain. Having said this, how can you not only reach your goals but continue past them without injury? Have a plan and STAY IN YOUR LANE.
Personally, I love competition. Training for something specific not only gives me a goal but drives me to better myself. It challenges me to make specific sacrifices. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind. Stay the Course! Specifically, train like your favorite athlete would.
Something I believe most individuals miss is that even pro athletes must take rest days. Even Elite Level Crossfitters must follow a periodized (rest time included) training regime. How else did they get that strong? That fast? That conditioned to stop failure in its tracks?
Train hard so that you can rest hard. And before completely destroying yourself, have a reason. Give yourself a why!
Jack City Fitness Fitness Coach
I watched a video yesterday about Professional triathlete Jan Frodeno, the reigning Ironman World Champion. It was a video outlining “a day in the life” of an elite triathlete’s training regimen. In my own pursuit of professional status in triathlons, I figured it would be a good indicator of where I need to end up. The volume of work he put out in a single day was extremely impressive, and I couldn’t help but be a little humbled as to my own physical limits and the long journey that awaits me to get there. This got me thinking about a very important aspect to any athlete and their ability to get to the next level of training… their work capacity!
Work capacity is the determining factor of what someone can and cannot do. The difference between the amateur and the professional athlete is often shown by the amount of effort they can do and the time they are able to sustain a certain intensity during training or a competition. The greater an athlete’s capacity to do work, the greater their potential to improve. Work capacity can be manifested in a variety of forms: lifting a heavier load, maintaining a certain intensity over time, repetitions of maximal effort in a certain amount of time, etc. Developing a greater work capacity is a key component to improving athletic performance across any discipline. The more someone can do in training or in competition safely, the better.
Being able to do more work comes at a certain cost. When trying to develop higher work capacity, you are pushing the body’s limits; because of this, peak performance will tend to suffer from the greater need of recovery and breakdown being experienced during periods of training to improve this aspect of athleticism. Training to develop work capacity is difficult to do. Pushing the envelope of physical capacity requires digging deep and doing more than what you have done before, mentally and physically. Needless to say, it is a strenuous process that if not balanced correctly can do as much harm as it’s potential for good. There is a fine line between training to improve work capacity and causing harm to the body. Without proper recovery and nutrition during these periods of training, the body will only breakdown and get injured rather than experience positive adaptations that will result in greater work capacity.
Increasing the total volume of work you can handle is key in continuing to see progress and elicit physical adaptations. If you only do a specific amount of work day in and day out, your body eventually will regulate itself and its recovery rate in order to not waste excess energy. This is when the body has adapted itself to make it more efficient at performing certain amounts of work and creates a threshold. If this threshold is never tested, the body will not continue to build and improve, performance will suffer, and strengths gains will stagnate. The body builds muscle and adapts to greater physical capabilities not to be able to lift more weight or run faster, rather, these adaptations are a result of the body trying to more easily support the daily stresses placed upon it. When given the chance, it will adapt extremely well, and the body will do everything it can to use as little energy as possible to function at it’s minimal capacity necessary to live. The way to increase work capacity comes in the form of remembering the principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands; in other words, your body will adapt specifically to the resistances and workouts you put it through. Increasing work capacity comes in changing the imposed demand to a greater amount than previously experienced.
One big problem with athletes trying to improve their work capacity is that they do too much too soon and get injured as a result, losing a few weeks of training. It’s important to remember that the closer you reach to your current threshold, the smaller the amounts of improvement are going to be. This is why a new lifter is perhaps able to improve their lifts by 10’s or 20’s of pounds every month, or a runner is able to shave off minutes from their race times each race, where the professional athlete is happy to improve a single pound on their total lifts, or run 0.1 second faster than last year. When you reach towards that limit of intensity you are currently at, you can’t approach the improvements and weekly progressions the same way. With that in mind, training at your threshold to force the body to push beyond that limit requires careful tracking, increased time of recovery work, specific nutritional practices, and slow, measured, and controlled increases to the load. Remembering that the amount of weight on the bar is not the only way to show improvements is important in order to develop a proper training program to improve work capacity. Doing more sets, more reps, less rest in between sets, and any combination of this can also be indications and tools to be used to improve.
A general scheme to increasing work capacity comes in a progressive manner slowly introducing higher intensities, resistances, and durations of work.
Week 1: Establish a beginning intensity, 70% of the maximal effort (1RM, Pace Per Mile, etc).
Weeks 2-6: Increase training zone at start of week 2 (75%) and slightly increase every week through week 6 to 95%. Remember to include increases in sets, reps, or decreases in rest during training. Volume is just as effective as anything else to improve.
Week 7: Taper and recovery week, return to beginning training zone (Week 1).
Weeks 8-11: Slightly increase training zone from week 6 and slightly increase every week through week 11, Work to 105%.
Week 12: Taper and recover (just above beginning training zone).
(Re-test maximal effort numbers and reset the training loads to start the 12 weeks over again.)
I recommend not doing more than two 12-week-cycles training work capacity to avoid any injuries and also prevent any stagnation in your progress. Even when training at threshold, the body will find a way to adapt and minimize the energy demands to grow and improve. It’s always good to change things up after a program has done its job.
Every Day… A Little Stronger
By: Sam Winston, M.S. Human Performance Coach
As an athlete training for certain goals, one of the things that I am constantly monitoring and gaging are the numbers that I am producing during sessions. Measurements are an important part of tracking progress and checking your training’s efficiency. Every level of fitness or sport has a need to take measurements. However, the kinds of measurements and how often they are taken provide a great deal of influence on the approach and goal setting for your routine. It is important to understand the pros and cons of measurements as well as the benefits and problems they bring to a training program.
There are various ways to measure a person in regards to fitness or sport. Weight, circumference, skin folds, one-repetition maximums, VO2 max, lactate threshold, ten-repetition max, biomechanical analysis, bioimpedence, hydrostatic weighing, flexibility tests, reaction time, resting heart rate, maximum heart rate…etc. In general, there are lots of ways to measure two different things: body composition and physical performance.
Body composition brings a lot of benefits to program planning. The majority of people who go to a gym or begin exercising do so because they want to lose weight, look better, or something along the lines of aesthetics. Body composition is directly related to the way the body looks. The benefits of measuring body composition come in the form of visual progress. Because it’s a clear number that is written down and tracked, there’s little room for interpretation and it’s a good indicator of nutritional and physical efficiency. The cons of body composition are numerous. Principally in that body composition only indicates progress in a single sense; weight is weight and weight is not body fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, or any other item. It can also be a poor indicator of good health as most guidelines for body composition measurements are based on a very general population and often neglect to address outlying issues such as genetics, chronic disease, age groups, and previous health history.
Performance measurements are a method of determining the body’s capacity for specific types of work: cardio, strength, speed, agility, flexibility, etc. Performance measurements are taken for a different aspect of fitness programming, which ignores body aesthetics and focuses on what the body is able to accomplish with movement. The benefits of measuring for performance tell more than just a single aspect of your fitness. For example, if you have increased your one-repetition max for a lift, you have increased mental confidence, muscular strength, muscular efficiency, proprioception, and other factors. Performance measurements also compliment other facets of your training; as performance increases, the body naturally changes to become more efficient at performing various activities. The disadvantages of performance measurements are that it is very easy to create excuses to justify a lack of progress. There’s a lot of interpretation and factors involved with performance and completion of fitness activities. It is not straight forward, making it easy to take less seriously.
The aspects of your fitness that you wish to measure depend greatly on what you are hoping to accomplish. A good piece of advice is to not completely depend on performance or composition measurements independently. Each has their benefits and their disadvantages, making them strong compliments to one another. With proper guidance on how to interpret any of these numbers and figures involved in your fitness journey, the efficiency of your training and success of your program will rise to new levels and produce even greater results in your performance and composition.
Every Day… A Little Stronger
By Sam Winston, Strength and Performance Coach