Having a regular gym buddy makes training better in almost every way. You’re more motivated to go to the gym because you don’t want to let anyone down and it’s far more enjoyable when you’re actually there. You can even talk over the repetitive electronic music pumped throughout every gym in the UK.
Training with a friend also naturally adds an element of competition to your sessions, even if neither of you is prepared to outright admit you’re going all out to best your BFF on the bench press.
You shouldn’t be afraid to embrace this competitive streak – it will only serve to ensure that both of you are training as hard as possible. In order to encourage a little friendly (do keep it friendly) competition, we asked three top personal trainers for their best buddy workouts.
1. The Hellraiser
This pyramid workout from fitness coach and kettlebell expert Jamie Lloyd is horrendously hard. You’ll definitely need a buddy by your side to get you through it. Do ten reps of each of the five exercises, then nine, eight and so on to zero. Aim for 17 minutes to complete the lot, but take rests when you need them, or simply to do it all before your partner does.
- Unweighted squat
- Medicine ball slam (10kg ball)
- Kettlebell swing (24kg bell)
- Thruster (10kg dumbbells)
2. Row 1,000m In Three Minutes
The rower is a great machine for buddy challenges because it allows easy side-by-side comparison and competition. In this challenge provided by Mark Hallam, movement specialist at no1fitness.co.uk, you both row for a minute, then rest for a minute, three times. Shoot for 1,000m, but whoever does the most wins.
3. Biceps Curls Collaboration
You work as a team to encourage each other in this challenge from PT and Multipower ambassador Ant Nyman – and you’ll need the encouragement. While one person does 15 biceps curls the other holds their barbell in an isometric contraction with their forearms parallel to the ground and their elbows bent at a right angle. Switch after 15 curls and keep going until you break down in each other’s aching arms.
4. Six Minute AMRAPs
It’s always good to have a buddy with you for AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workouts because the temptation to ease up on yourself after a few rounds is hard to resist when solo. This four-circuit workout from Lloyd involves doing six minutes on each round of three exercises, with three minutes’ rest between circuits. You’re aiming to compete as many rounds of the three exercises as possible in each six-minute stint. You can compete on the amount of rounds completed or just try to help each other through this brutal workout.
- Unweighted squat – reps 8
- Kettlebell swing – reps 8 (24kg kettlebell)
- Lunge and reach – reps 5 each leg
- Kettlebell snatch – reps 8 each arm
- Jump squat – reps 8
- V-sit – reps 8
5. Row, Row, Down You Go
You get the chance to work as a team with this challenge from Nyman. One partner rows 200m as fast as they can while the other does press-ups. At 200m you switch roles. Keep switching until you hit 2,000m on the rower. Record your time and try to beat it next time you work out together.
6. Five-Minute Pyramid Challenge
Another tough pyramid workout from Lloyd, with the fastest finisher again crowned the victor. This time you just have to do three exercises, but there’s no rest between them and the rep count is bulked up. Do 21 reps, then 15, then nine, before moving on to the next exercise. Shoot for under five minutes in total.
7. Squat Till You Drop
A straight battle of wills and lower-body endurance. You have Nyman to thank for this quad-shaking showdown, which consists of you and your partner doing “ski sits”. Get into a squat position with your back against a wall and then simply hold it for as long as possible. First to buckle loses, but really you’re both winners because this kind of isometric contraction is great for building strength and endurance.
8. Rower And Kettlebell Challenge
You’re not trying to outdo each other in this workout from Hallam. It’s all about mutual support instead. One person starts on the rower, sprinting 200m while their partner holds a kettlebell (16kg or 20kg) in the rack position. Swap once the 200m mark is hit and try to complete four to five sets on each exercise.
9. Pair Of Plankers
Another savage test of endurance from Nyman, with the winner once again the person who can hold out against the pain for the longest. Get into a plank position facing your partner and start giving each other high fives with alternate hands. When someone drops it’s all over. To everyone’s relief.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.