When you work out alone, it can be tempting to cut corners and get comfortable. After all, if you cheat on a pullup or don’t swing that kettlebell as high as you should, who will know? That’s where a workout buddy comes in. Here are three ways hitting the gym with a friend can make your workouts safer and more effective — and a lot more fun!
ENSURE PROPER FORM
When you don’t perform an exercise correctly, you may not even be working the right muscles, which makes all of your hard work pointless. At best, you’ll cheat yourself out of the full benefits of your workout. At worst, you risk injury.
By working out with someone else, you can spot one another and keep an eye out for lapses in form. You and your partner can keep each other honest, ensuring your routine stays safe and effective.
GET A LITTLE COMPETITIVE
Whether you make your workouts explicitly competitive or not, working out with someone is a great way to subconsciously push yourself to improve. Even if your partner is stronger, faster, or in better shape than you, the drive to close the gap between your capabilities can be a big motivating factor.
Psychologists call this mental push to avoid being the weak link the “Köhler effect.” In small groups, those who begin weaker often push themselves to improve the most. Why not put this psychological phenomenon to work for you?
The most valuable reason to have a workout buddy is accountability. Just having a dedicated person to ask you if you’ve met your fitness goals can have a significant impact on how regularly you exercise. In fact, something as simple as a bimonthly check-in has been shown to help people increase the amount of time they spend working out.
A Stanford University study on the impact of social support on physical activity found that an occasional check-in boosted test subjects’ workout times by an average of 78 percent. This is part of a growing body of research that suggests positive social support may be a key factor in motivation. Even if you can’t actually exercise alongside your workout buddy, just checking in on one another’s goals can make a huge difference.