10 Exercises to Do with Your Fitness Partner

What’s even better than the satisfaction of finishing a tough workout? How about completing that last exercise with a supportive workout buddy right next to you? Bringing a friend or partner to the gym with you is a great way to hold yourself accountable, make the time move faster, and stay motivated. Also, if the research is to be believed, working out with a partner may even inspire you to work out a little longer. While you can always bring a friend or family member to the gym and perform separate workouts, where’s the fun in that? Instead, consider teaming up on some partner gym exercises or devising fun partner workouts together. Here are 10 of our favorite partner exercises.

1. Weight Lift with a Spotter

If you or your partner plan to perform heavy lifts using a barbell or even dumbbells, it’s a good idea to have a spotter present. The purpose of a spotter is to keep the exerciser safe and to jump in if the exercise is struggling with a movement or unable to complete a rep. A spotter can give you a little boost to help you finish that last difficult rep or can help you bail the weight if you fail a rep. If you plan on performing any type of bench-pressing movement, it is critical to ask your workout partner to spot you.

2. Medicine Ball Sit-Up with Pass

Ready to set your abs on fire? Grab a five-, eight-, or 10-pound medicine ball, then position yourself so that you and your partner are sitting on the ground opposite each other. Your toes should be touching your partner’s toes. Holding the medicine ball to your chest, perform a sit-up. Your partner should also perform a sit-up. As you come up from the sit-up, toss the ball to your partner, who will hold the ball as you both perform a second sit-up. Toss the ball back and forth with each sit-up. Performing the sit-up with the medicine ball will force your ab muscles to work harder, while throwing the ball will bring your arms into the mix, creating a more explosive movement. 

3. Medicine Ball Russian Twist with Pass

Choose a five-, eight-, or 10-pound medicine ball. Start by sitting back to back with your partner. Make sure you are both leaning back slightly so that your abs and core are engaged. Holding the medicine ball tightly to your chest, twist to the right, and pass the ball to your partner. Your partner, holding the ball to their chest, will twist, passing the ball back to you on your left. The twisting motion will allow you to work your obliques, helping to sculpt those flat panels on each side of your abs. The medicine ball adds extra resistance, making this a more difficult version of a bodyweight Russian twist.

Extra-credit: To make this movement more difficult, keep your heels off the ground during passing.

4. Partner Heel Tap with Resistance Band

Here’s another great partner gym exercise for the core. First, choose a light or moderate resistance band. Partner One starts on the ground on their back. Partner Two will stand near Partner One’s head. Wrap the resistance band around the middle of the Partner One’s feet. Partner Two will hold the end of the band tight. Partner One will start with their knees at their chest, then push against the band as they lower their legs and tap their heels on the ground. Switch partners between each set.

5. Triceps Kickback with Band

Stand facing your partner. Each partner should hold one end of a resistance band. Keep the band on the same side of your bodies. If you are holding the band in your right hand, your partner should hold the band in their left hand. Bend your knees slightly and bend over at the hips. Begin with your arm bent at a 90-degree angle. Isolating your triceps, you and your partner should extend your arms at the same time, pushing against the resistance of the band.

6. Jump Squat High Fives

Facing your partner, the two of you will squat simultaneously, then explode up, jumping at the end of the squat. If you can, try to high five with your partner at the top of each jump squat. This will force you to synchronize your cycle time. If high fiving is too hard, try to jump squat in sync as much as possible.

7. Relay Shuttle Runs

Shuttle runs are a great way to improve your anaerobic capacity and wake your fast-twitch muscles. Set up a shuttle run course (it helps if your gym includes a functional fitness area). Then tag team. One partner goes first, then tags in the second partner after completing the run. Between runs, work on controlling your breathing so you can give your next run everything you’ve got.

8. Wheelbarrow Runs

Wheelbarrow runs are an excellent way to work the shoulders and improve body awareness and balance. This is a moderate-level move, so beginners should work on strengthening their shoulders first. Find a safe and empty area to perform the wheelbarrow walk. Partner A will start in the pushup position, with Partner B standing behind their heels. Partner B will pick up Partner A’s feet, holding them at about hip level. Partner A will then move forward, using their hands. Partner B’s job is to simply hold Partner A’s feet and move at their pace. It doesn’t take long for this move to become tiring. Switch partners at the end of the course.

9. Burpee Plank Jumps

This is a great movement because each partner works on a different skill. Partner A will begin by holding a plank on their hands or elbows. For the plank, keep your back straight and your glutes down. While Partner A is in the plank, Partner B will perform a burpee alongside Partner A, then jump over Partner B. This is a moderate level exercise and should only be performed by partners who feel comfortable with their jumping skills. When the set is over, the partners switch roles.

10. Fireman’s Carry

This is an advanced movement that is best performed with partners with an existing level of strength and coordination and between partners that are roughly the same size. Partner A will lift Partner B into a fireman’s carry, clasping Partner B by their arms and legs over Partner A’s back. Partner A will then walk or jog down a designated course, ideally an indoor track, outdoor track, or outdoor sidewalk. When Partner A has finished the course, they will gently let Partner B down, and it will be Partner B’s turn to perform the carry.

Great Buddy Workout Formats

Partner exercises are an excellent way to include your workout buddy in your fitness routine, but there are only so many exercises two people can do together. Another option is to perform a partner workout together. There is a nearly limitless amount of partner workouts you could do by switching up individual exercises, rep schemes, weights, and more. To help get you started, here are three of our favorite partner workout formats.

1. Double It Up Circuit

This simple yet fun partner workout format starts by creating a circuit of three or five exercises. Choose a rep scheme that is challenging for both partners. Now, set a workout time. When you start the clock, Partner A performs the circuit as quickly and safely as possible. When they complete it, they tag in Partner B who then performs the circuit. Keep switching at the end of each circuit until the clock runs down!

Sample Partner Circuit Workout:

Perform as many circuits in 10 minutes of:

  • 10 burpees
  • 20 air squats
  • 40 jump ropes

2. Get ‘er Done

Put together a challenging chipper workout, which means stringing together a range of different exercises. Add plenty of reps to each movement, more than a single person would feel comfortable completing. The goal is for the two partners to complete the workout as quickly as possible by switching on and off. Only one partner can be working at a time, but each partner can do as many reps as they want. So, for example, if the workout calls for 20 deadlifts, Partner A can perform five reps, followed by Partner B who performs 10 reps, followed by Partner A who then performs the last five reps.  

This format is a good option for partners who have different fitness levels since the more experienced exerciser can perform more reps. It also requires some strategy to break up the workout so that no partner gets stuck.

Sample partner chipper:

Complete the following workout as quickly as possible:

  • 80 medicine ball slams
  • 70 jumping air squats
  • 60 box step ups
  • 50 push-press with an empty barbell
  • 40 kettlebell swings
  • 30 burpees
  • 20 pullups or jumping pullups
  • 10 deadlifts at a challenging weight

3. No Rest for the Wicked

This intense partner workout format is an advanced version of the Get ‘er Done format, but with one challenging twist. While Partner A works, Partner B must perform some sort of hold under tension, such as holding a loaded barbell at the top of a deadlift, hanging from a pull-up bar, holding a plank, or holding a sit against a wall. When Partner A finishes their reps, Partner A must perform the holding movement while Partner B works. If the holding partner breaks the hold, then both partners must stop.

Here’s how this would look in practice. Let’s say the holding movement is to hang from a pull-up bar. Partner A starts off the workout by performing medicine ball slams. As soon as Partner A starts with the medicine ball slams, Partner B jumps up on the pull-up bar and hangs. Partner A stops at 20 medicine ball slams, and Partner B drops from the bar. They switch movements. Now, Partner B begins performing medicine ball slams, and Partner A hangs from the bar. If Partner A gets tired and drops off the bar, Partner B must stop doing medicine ball slams until Partner A jumps on the bar again. Alternatively, they can also switch again, so Partner B goes back to hanging on the bar while Partner A then continues with the medicine ball slams. This partner workout format requires a lot of communication and strategizing.

Ready to Ask Your Partner for a Date to the Gym?

If you want to increase your fitness as well as your workout accountability, then don’t be shy about asking your family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers to join you at the gym. Now that you know lots of great partner gym exercises as well as challenging partner workout formats, you and your gym buddy are sure to get an excellent workout every time.

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