1. Help you achieve your fitness goals
This one may be obvious but here's something to think about. Stanford University has found that simply receiving a phone call each two weeks can boost the amount of exercise you do by up to 78% (on average). The conversation involved two questions:
- How much exercise did you do?
- How could you increase the intensity/volume next week?
Additionally, if workouts were missed or training intensity dropped there was a focus on getting back on track.
Even after 18 months, they were still exercising at the increased level. So even if you can’t find a workout buddy yet, at the very least you can get a friend to call you and ask those 2 questions each week, which will boost your motivation considerably.
Having a training partner provides you with that same accountability. Even just the thought that someone else is going to call or text to see how you are going provides motivation.
2. Working out becomes fun
One of the most important elements of a successful exercise program is fun. If you don't enjoy it you won't keep doing it. And if you have someone to share the experience with it makes it that much better.
3. Your not the 'odd one out'
Everyone knows that feeling or can relate to feeling like the odd one out. The new kid. Having the emotional support of a friend when you walk into your first class can make all the difference in how your overall experience is. It also makes it easier to ask questions if you're not sure what something is or change up the workout because you've never even heard of "hang power clean" because you're both thinking it!
4. Keeps your form on point
At each class the coach is there to guide everyone through technique and keep an eye on form during the workout but you can guarantee you best mate is going to call you up when you don't squat right down or go a couple reps short on an exercise. That's what friends are for!
But seriously, having that feedback from another set of eyes is vital in holding good form especially with new movements or when you start to get tired (and a little sloppy).
5. Competition makes you perform better
Most of us have at least a little competitive streak, and healthy competition is a good thing because it makes you perform better. One study had some interesting findings on this: participants perform better when they are paired up with a workout partner who is fitter than they are. Furthermore, the study found that to maximize motivation your workout buddy should be about 40% better than you are – a challenging, yet achievable goal for you to meet. When you pair up with a partner who is fitter than you it produces an effect known as the Köhler Effect, or simply put: not wanting to be the weakest link.
There were more interesting findings from this study: first, the partner was virtual (i.e. just a looping video shown on a monitor); second, when told they were working as a team, participants exercised 160% longer than those simply working with a partner and 200% longer than those working alone; lastly (in another study), when men were paired up with a woman who was fitter than they were, they were exceptionally motivated – more so than when paired up with another man who was fitter than them. The takeaway: man or woman, getting a workout buddy will make you perform better at your workouts.
6. Motivates and supports you
For most people, having someone in your corner makes a huge difference to how motivated you are. Having a good workout buddy, who motivates and supports you will boost your commitment to your fitness goals and your confidence that you can achieve them.
7. Keeps your ego in check
When people start getting good results from their workouts, a little ego can creep in from time to time. A good workout partner recognizes that you’re proud of your achievements and confident with what you’ve got, and at the same time keeps you grounded by constantly pushing you to do better.
8. Makes your workouts safer
Going back to the 4th point on your friend being the 'form police', at the end of the day all their pestering and know-it-all comments about proper technique are only going to make you better and make the exercise safer. You also have a buddy to spot you when you're maxing out on your squat.
9. Better stories, more ideas
Isn't it just THE WORST when you want to talk about a workout you just smashed or a new exercise you want to try but no one cares! Well when you find a good workout buddy you now have someone to share all your PRs with and someone crazy enough to try a new squat program you want to start.
I've personally trained for years alone, and recently started training with others and all of the above applies. I still enjoy the odd workout on my own where I can just zone out. But having someone else to train with makes me not skip the exercises I hate, makes me push harder, and makes everything more fun. So don't do it alone, find a buddy!