“I am going to start exercising from this Monday, come rain or shine.”
Monday come and goes and the entire weeks rolls by and we resolve to start fresh again the next monday.
Even with all the best planning in the world, we often fail to stick to our workout and weight loss/body building schedules and we end up feeling like failures. Even the die-hard fitness junkies have days when they’d rather stay cozy in their warm beds than get up for an early morning workout session.
We find it hard to hold ourselves accountable. It’s easy to justify to ourselves why we had to skip that workout. Some of these reasons may be valid, but most of the time, it’s just the lack of proper motivation.
Now what if you have a personal trainer who shows up at your door and pushes you out of that door for your workout, motivating and encouraging you, guiding you through your session and cheering you on to do much more than you ever will on your own.
But I can’t afford a personal trainer!
So what the next best alternative? A workout buddy!
11 Benefits of a Workout Buddy
A friend, a neighbour, a colleague or your spouse – anyone can be your workout partner. And it doesn’t cost you a penny. That person probably needs you for the very same reasons.
1. Tremendous Increase in Commitment
It’s one thing to cancel your own scheduled workout, you are not answerable to anyone. It’s definitely much harder to bail out on a planned workout with your workout buddy as you will be letting them down too.
When you have a workout buddy, you are accountable to someone other than yourself. If your workout buddy is someone you respect and admire, you don’t want them to be disappointed in you. This helps create a more action oriented mindset which ensure you actually do those workouts.
So chances are, even though you may be tempted to cancel, you will still show up for your workout, especially since it’s already planned in advance to fit into your schedule.
2. Makes your Workouts Safer
Going for a late evening brisk walk or jog? Having a partner makes it much safer as two people are easier for oncoming vehicles to spot, than just one lone runner. Having a buddy to spot you when you do workouts like bench press makes it a lot safer than doing it by yourself.
3. Better Form
Maybe you are leaning too forward during squats or your back is sagging during a plank workout. Though mirrors are a great help for correcting form, a workout buddy is more useful.
They can give you quick form checks to ensure you form is correct during your exercise. Wrong exercise form can lead to aches and pain later on and maybe even more serious injuries.
4. Higher Attendance and Lower Dropout Rates
A study by the Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, USA. recorded that people with workout partners had significantly higher attendance and lower dropout rates than those without a partner – which appeared to be primarily influenced by the additional support from the partner rather than by self.
It’s fun to hang out with friends, chat, gossip or just be together in companionable silence doing your own thing. Combine that with your workout – chat during a brisk walk and the time goes by much faster.
Lifting weights in companionable silence will motivate you to perform more and better than get bored and demotivated just by yourself. Of course, this varies from person to person. It’s all about what is it that motivates you to perform better. You need to understand yourself first.
5. Stress Buster Duos
A study involving 136 participants was published in the International Journal of Stress Management. Participants exercised on a laboratory stationary bicycle for 30 minutes at moderate intensity either alone, with another person while talking, or with another person while remaining silent.
The results of the study suggested that exercising with someone had stress-reducing benefits as the participants experienced more energy and calmness during the workout. The sense of competition increased their output leaving them more tired than if they were working out alone.
To feel those stress busting effects you don’t have to chat with your friend, the companionship is enough. You’ll be too busy fat busting with all the extra energy and motivation.
6. Push Harder to Perform Better
Having a workout buddy helps you push yourself much harder than you would do otherwise.
A study using 58 female college students found that participants in the team group were exercising nearly 200 percent longer than those exercising as individuals. The study concluded that when weaker individuals are placed on a team, perform better than they would on their own.
7. The Köhler effect
It would be best if your workout buddy is more fit than you. That isn’t the only criteria as there are still many benefits to be had from a workout partner even if they are not as fit as you. Working out with a more fit buddy makes you more competitive and gives a visible and achievable fitness goal to strive for.
The Köhler Effect is used to describe weaker people who are able to push themselves harder when teamed up with stronger people, than when by themselves. According to research, a workout partner who is 40% more fitter than you is ideal in maximising motivation as that creates a challenging, yet achievable goal.
Now here’s another really interesting fact:
The men who had female workout partners who were more fit than them, were found to be exceptionally motivated, more so than if they had a fitter male buddy.
8. Sharing and Celebrating Accomplishments
Victory is so much sweeter when you have someone to celebrate it with. Even better if that is someone who was with you along the way watching your progress and congratulating you when you succeed. They also help to keep you grounded if you become overly confident.
9. A Healthier Diet
A partner who is into fitness and working out will also be into eating healthier foods, at least to some extent. The emotional support you gain here is invaluable in taking your fitness routine to a whole new level.
They’ll motivate you to eat cleaner and maybe you can swap recipes or even cook together sometimes. Now you have a cooking buddy too! Isn’t that great!
10. More Focused Workouts with Less Breaks
Whether you are working out at home together or at the gym, the presence of your workout partner ensures that you both stay more focused on your goal.
You’ll be less tempted to take extra breaks that end up longer than you intended as you got sidetracked by facebook or instagram. Your buddy will call you out if your water break is getting too long or more frequent.
11. Reach your Goals Faster
With the motivation from your workout buddy, you will be able to exercise regularly and push yourself as hard as you can – you will definitely reach your goals faster. Isn’t that obvious!
The reason you have been unable to reach your goals till now was because you were inconsistent with your workouts, you did not work hard enough and took too many breaks in between the half hearted attempts.
In a study conducted by Stanford University, 218 people were divided into three groups. They were all given a goal of walking half an hour most days of the week. For a period of one year a Stanford health educator called them every three weeks. The second group of test subjects received calls from a computer programmed to make similar inquiries.
Both groups were asked to recite the amount of exercises they performed during the past weeks. They were all congratulated on any exercise performed, and then asked how the level might be increased in the weeks ahead. If there were any lapses due to unforseen circumstances, they were positively encouraged to resume their exercises at the earliest. The third, control group, did not receive any such phone calls.
After a year, the researchers recorded that the control group exercised 118 minutes a week, up 28% from the study’s start of 100 minutes a week. The group receiving computerized calls worked out for 157 minutes a week. Those receiving calls from a live person were exercising for about 178 minutes a week, which represented a 78% jump from their starting levels.
The moral of the study as far as we are concerned is that it proves the power of a workout buddy. Social support counts, even if it’s just a phone call. But face to face, in person, who is with you during your workout – it’s much more powerful.