Do your workouts need a secret weapon?
Enter… the workout buddy.
OK, so it’s not so secret now but if you haven’t already got a workout buddy, get one ASAP.
“In one word: ACCOUNTABILITY. Having someone else to workout with means you’ll show up, and keep showing up” says our Fitness Centre Manager, Todd Johnston.
It’s been scientifically proven that working out in a pair can double the effort you put into your workouts.
A study published in the Society of Behavioral Medicine found out of three controlled groups of bike riders, those who rode solo made it an average of 10.6 minutes before stopping. Not bad. The group that rode with a partner on screen, went for an average of 19.8 minutes. That’s an 87% difference! And the third group, who went head-to-head with their on-screen partner (not knowing that the footage was actually looped so their partner never gave up – haha!) was on the bike for an average of 21.9 minutes. A whopping improvement of over 100% compared to going it alone. Amazing!
Another study found that even the motivation of a ‘gentle nudge’ can increase the amount you exercise by approximately 78%.
So not only does buddying up make you work harder than you’d ever do going solo, it can also help get you out the door in the first place.
How a workout buddy can make a BIG difference
A great workout buddy is worth their weight in gold.
Whether it’s your BFF, BF/GF or someone with a friendly face that you’ve seen around the gym, having someone to workout with will see your motivation skyrocket.
Never again will you be tempted to slack off a gym sesh.
The S words: social support
Social support is a huge part of sticking with a regular exercise routine.
On the days you feel like skipping the gym, they’ll be the one to get you there. When they can’t be bothered, you’ll be the one to give them a boost.
Relying on someone to keep your motivation up will make you a million times more committed to a routine and achieving your fitness goals (and vice versa). You’ll be each other’s safety net – awwww!
It’ll keep things interesting
Buddies are a great way to keep boredom at bay and bring variety to your workouts.
If there’s two of you, you’ll be more likely to find the confidence to try new things. You’ll be a unit, you’ll be a team, you’ll go and try that scary-but-funky-looking dance class that you’re both curious about. Or that boxing course your buddy is really pumped up to try out.
Your buddy can also introduce you to things you’d never considered trying before, like circuits or interval training. It’ll keep things interesting and keep you both on your toes.
No one wants to be the weaker link
Having a workout buddy can add an element of competition to your gym sessions. Battling it out with your buddy will have you working your butt off (especially if they’re a bit fitter than you).
But if you’re really not the competitive type, the Kohler Effect may help you hang in there. In a nutshell, the Kohler Effect is the theory that you work harder to avoid being the weaker link. No one likes to give up, or admit defeat, so you’ll unconsciously push yourself harder to match your buddy.
Safety in numbers
A workout buddy has your back – literally.
No more poor form squatting (knees directly over toes please) and no nearly killing yourself mid chest press.
Your buddy can be your spotter, your after-dark running partner and your PT who can help when your technique needs tweaking – all rolled into one.
Say you’ll be there
Yes! Worked in a Spice Girls lyric into a post.
But seriously… the biggest bonus of having a workout buddy is that you’re much, much less likely to bail.
It’s easy to sack off a workout when you’re just letting yourself down. But when you and your buddy have arranged a time – whether it’s a set time every week or just when you’re both free – you’ll be there.
No one likes a flake!
The choosing-a-workout-buddy checklist
This is someone who’s going to (hopefully) have a big impact on your fitness. So choose wisely.
The below criteria can act as a mental checklist for what you’re looking for in your workout buddy:
Do you like them?
Do you have at least some things in common? Can you chat with them? Can you have a laugh together?
This person should make your workouts more bearable so it goes without saying that you should enjoy spending time with them. If you find yourself thinking “do I really have to hang out with Andrew today”, maybe you need to re-visit your choice of buddy.
Find someone fitter than you
You need someone who is going to challenge you.
When in search for your buddy, bear in mind that you’ll both have different strengths. One of you may be better at cardio, while the other better at lifting.
Ideally what you need to look for is someone that is roughly 40% fitter or better than you in the area that you most want to improve.
Are you a good match?
Look for someone with similar goals who’ll be as committed to reaching them as you are.
If your buddy wants to bulk up an extra 10 kilos while you want to become a master yogi, that’s not a workout match made in heaven.
Make sure they won’t take the p*ss
You’ve both got to respect each other’s time, so turning up half an hour late is not cool.
Your buddy has got to be someone you can depend on. That said, if your diaries aren’t compatible in the first place, it’s never going to work.
Cheerleader or drill sergeant?
Know what kind of motivational style works for you.
We’re not talking about pig tails and poms poms, but a cheerleader is someone who’ll encourage you to squeeze those last few reps out in a positive “you can do it!” kind of way.
Or maybe you need your very own DS who’ll push you to your limits and help you smash your PBs.
Your future workout buddy will be doing this same check on you and looking for all these same traits.
Make sure you can rise to the challenge.
Where to find a workout buddy
Finally, a few quick ideas of where to find yourself a buddy.
Do you keep seeing the same people during your workouts? Are they doing similar exercises to you?
Spark up a friendly conversation with them in as non-creepy way as possible. Nothing too forward and definitely don’t ask them to be your workout buddy right away – that would be weird.
Just start trying to gauge whether they’d tick all the boxes on your ‘choosing-a-workout-buddy checklist’ and from there continue to say hi whenever you see them. You’ll soon find yourself chatting about your workouts and before you know it someone will suggest that you join forces.
If you’d prefer not to have to invest that amount of time in your buddy search, simply hop on to UQ Sport Buddies. A Facebook group dedicated to pairing or teaming you guys up. If you’re looking for a workout buddy, this is the place to find them.
So what you waiting for? Start buddying up!
Flickr Creative Commons Image via See-ming Lee.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Tambako The Jaguar.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via The U.S. Army.
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Keith Allison.