Want to build a new body? Then make a new buddy.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K. recently found that having a workout partner—especially one that challenges and supports you—is likely to increase the amount of exercise you do and improve your results.
But not just any workout partner will do. Take the advice of Allison Tai, a Spartan SGX coach at Vancity OCR in Vancouver and the winner of the 2015 Canadian Spartan Race Series.
They Share Your Fitness Goals
“Having a fitter training partner can rocket launch your progress,” Tai says. “However, it can also cause burnout and injury if that person is too far beyond your abilities, or you don’t give yourself proper recovery days.”
Slower and easier training sessions can be a great time to reconnect with friends who are not as fit or fast as you. “Choose your workout friends wisely to match the goals of the day’s workout,” she says.
In other words, play the field and have some fun around before you commit.
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You Hate Them Just a Little
Vancouver-based Vancity OCR was founded by Tai and a bunch of fitness buddies who wanted to build a bigger obstacle course racing community. Being chummy, though, doesn’t stop them getting competitive.
“We love to pair people or put them into teams and then have them race each other through the workout,” Tai says. “All Spartans love a little competition and buddying up is a great way to bring that fire into every day training.”
They Know When Push and When to Pull
Who you choose to train with can influence how you chose to workout. And just as in all areas of life, your gym partner can pull you up or down, depending on how much they affect your thoughts, decisions, and goals.
“If it’s true that you’re the product of your five closest friends,” Tai notes, “then you need to be selective when choosing training buddies and choose those with Spartan values like commitment, tenacity, and enthusiasm.”
They’re Equally Committed
Having an exercise sidekick is a sure way to keep on track with training, but ultimately you’re responsible for your progress, not your partner. And if your training buddy bails for any reason, that doesn’t give you a get-out-of-workout-free pass too.
“Instead, use it as an opportunity to work on your mental game,” Tai recommends. “You rely on you. Bottom line: Your workout buddies are just the icing on that cake.”
Prepare to dominate the course. Download the Spartan Obstacle Guide