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Why Partner Workouts Should be Part of your routine (plus two full workouts for you to try)

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for health advice. Any questions about your health should be directed toward a physician or licensed healthcare professional.  

For this guide, Garage Gym Reviews staff writer Amanda Capritto, who’s also a certified personal trainer and CrossFit coach, provides some insight on how to get the most out of partner workouts.

Some people find working out alone to be pure bliss. It’s their “me time,” and they want to keep it uninterrupted and stay totally zoned in. I totally understand that feeling, and I love working out alone, too. 

But, I also enjoy working out with a partner! I love doing workouts specifically created for two people to tackle: I find it to be a great bonding experience and it makes for a challenging training session. Partner workouts are also great for days when motivation is lacking or when you just want to switch things up.

Working out with a partner comes with many benefits and challenges, which we detail here. Plus, we provide two full partner workouts for you and a friend to try. 

Benefits of Partner Workouts

All of the usual benefits of working out apply to partner workouts, but working out with someone else comes with a few unique perks.  

Accountability: It’s too easy to let yourself down, but when you’ve committed to working out with a partner, you’re much less likely to bail. 

Consistency: The accountability factor multiplies when you schedule partner workouts on a regular basis. If you struggle with consistency, working out with a partner on a weekly basis is one way to minimize skipping. 

Mentality: Most people are likely to push themselves more during partner workouts than they will while working out alone.

What to Consider During partner workouts

When you exercise alone, you can pretty much do whatever you want. But when working with a partner, it’s helpful to keep these factors in mind.  

Your Partner’s Fitness Level 

Not everyone has the same fitness level. This simple fact is important to remember when creating partner workouts. “When creating your workout, make sure both partners will be challenged yet safe,” Amanda says. “A good rule of thumb is to choose exercises that have a lot of modification options, as this allows for flexibility even after the workout starts.” 

Equipment Access

I might be stating the obvious here, but the equipment you have in your home gym will pretty much dictate the workout you do. If you want to do a running workout, for example, you’ll obviously need a treadmill or ample outdoor space to run. If you want to do a barbell workout, you may need two barbells or to compromise on the weight. 

Time 

As always, time is of the essence. Communicate with your partner beforehand to set a time allotment for the workout—don’t just write up a workout assuming your partner has the same amount of time as you to train. 

Pro tip: “When deciding on the time factor, be sure to account for set-up, warm-up, and cool-down time in addition to actual workout time,” Amanda says. “These pre- and post-workout necessities can eat up a lot of time, so it’s important to plan ahead.”   

2 Full Partner Workouts To Try

Amanda designed these two partner workouts to get you and your workout buddy started on the right foot.

Partner Workout 1

  • 5 Rounds for Time 
    • 30 Partner Plank Taps (each partner)
    • 20 Partner Leg Throws (10 each partner) 
    • 10 Burpee Over Partner (5 each partner) 
    • 5 (each leg) Partner Pistol Squats (20 if modifying to air squats) 
  • Instructions: 
    • Perform 30 Partner Plank Taps (15 each hand), resting as needed 
    • Then, perform 20 Partner Leg Throws, switching as needed
    • Then, perform 10 Burpees Over Partner, switching as needed 
    • Then, perform 5 Partner Pistol Squats on each leg, together

Plank Taps (High Fives)

Two people demonstrating partner plank high fives
How to: 
  1. Both partners assume the high plank position 
  2. Position yourselves far enough apart that you can both extend your arms fully in front
  3. In the plank position, both partners lift one arm and high-five each other
  4. Alternate arms until you complete 30 total reps (15 each arm)

Partner Leg Throws

Two people demonstrating how to do partner leg throws
How to: 
  1. Partner 1 lies face-up on the ground and positions feet pointing toward the sky
  2. Partner 2 holds Partner 1’s ankles
  3. Partner 2 pushes Partner 1’s legs toward the ground 
  4. Partner 1 uses core strength to lift legs back to the starting position 
  5. Each partner performs 10 reps. Switch as needed

Burpee Over Partner

Two people demonstrating burpees over partner
How to: 
  1. Partner 1 lies on the ground
  2. Partner 2 performs a burpee lateral to Partner 1
  3. Partner 2 jumps over Partner 1 to complete the rep
  4. Switch as needed and continue until each partner competes five reps

Partner Pistol Squat (Mod: Synchro Air Squat)

Two people demonstrating partner single-leg squats
How to: 
  1. Partners start standing, facing each other and joining hands
  2. Perform five pistol squats on each leg, using your partner to counterbalance

Partner Workout 2

  • Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM) for 16 minutes (4 rounds) 
    • Minute 1: 30 seconds of partner wall-balls
    • Minute 2: 30 seconds of U-go, I-go deadlifts 
    • Minute 3: 30 seconds of synchronized burpees over the barbell 
    • Minute 4: 30 seconds of partner sit-up tosses 
  • Instructions
    • Every minute on the minute, perform 30 seconds of the prescribed exercise. Rest for 30 seconds. At the top of the next minute, start the next exercise, and so forth. Complete four rounds of each exercise for a 16-minute workout. 
  • Equipment needed: 
    • Two Olympic barbells 
    • Enough weight plates (preferably bumpers) for both partners to use a challenging load 
    • One medicine ball
    • Abmats or yoga mats for sit-ups

Partner Wall-Balls

Two people demonstrating partner wall balls
How to: 
  1. Partner 1 and Partner 2 stand next to each other facing a wall or wall-ball target. 
  2. Partner 1 performs a wall-ball: Squat with the medicine ball and, upon standing, throw the ball to a target. 
  3. Partner 1 steps away and Partner 2 steps in to catch the medicine ball and perform a wall-ball. 
  4. Partner 2 steps away and Partner 1 steps in to catch the ball. Continue alternating for 30 seconds.

U-Go, I-Go Deadlifts

Two people demonstrating how to do partner you-go-I-go deadlifts
How to:
  1. Both partners set up a barbell for deadlifts. Choose a weight you can confidently do at least 15 reps with. 
  2. Partner 1 does one deadlift. As soon as the barbell returns to the ground, Partner 2 does one deadlift. 
  3. Alternate for 30 seconds.

Synchro Burpee Over Bar

Two people demonstrating synchronized partner burpees over barbell
How to:
  1. Both partners perform a burpee lateral to the barbell and hop over the bar.
  2. Both partners must have both feet on the ground before starting the next rep.
  3. Continue for 30 seconds. 

Partner Wall-Ball Sit-Up Toss

Two people demonstrating partner sit-up medicine ball throws
How to:
  1. Both partners lie face-up on the ground with feet pointing toward one another. 
  2. Partner 1 holds a medicine ball and does one sit-up. At the end of the sit-up, Partner 1 tosses the medicine ball to Partner 2. 
  3. Partner 2 catches the ball and does a sit-up, tossing the ball back to Partner 1. 
  4. Continue for 30 seconds. 

Types of Partner Workouts

There are a lot of ways to design partner workouts. The versatility is part of what makes them so fun, Amanda says. She breaks down the main types of partner workouts here.

AMRAP

AMRAP stands for “as many rounds/reps as possible” and the goal is to move as efficiently as you can within a given amount of time. An example of a simple AMRAP is: max air squats in five minutes. 

Chipper

A chipper workout is one that has a defined number of reps for several movements where the goal is to “chip away” at the reps. Often, chipper workouts have a declining rep range: for example, 50-40-30-20-10.

EMOM

EMOM stands for “every minute on the minute” and involves performing a prescribed number of reps of a given exercise at the start of each minute. You rest for the remainder of the minute after finishing your reps and start again at the top of the next minute. 

Rounds for Time

In a “rounds for time” workout, you’re not given a defined time limit; rather, you’re given a workout and the goal is to perform it as fast as you safely can. 

Get the most out of your partner workout

Partner workouts are a blast—as long as everything goes well. Keep these things in mind leading up to your next partner workout to ensure smooth operation.  

Prioritize Form and Safety

Form and safety are just as important during partner workouts as in individual workouts, if not more so—it’s each partner’s responsibility to keep themself and their partner safe. Here are some tips from Amanda to keep your partner workout hazard-free: 

  • Remove unnecessary equipment or items from your workout space
  • Set up workout equipment in a way that makes sense for the movements you’re doing (for example, align barbells instead of setting them up perpendicularly)  
  • Avoid working out on wet floors 
  • Form-check one another on each movement to be done before starting 
  • Choose weights that aren’t too heavy for the rep ranges
  • Modify exercises to match your skill set, even if it means you and your partner are doing different variations

Arrive Prepared

Show up on time and with everything you need to safely complete the workout. Make sure you have plenty of water; that you’re wearing proper shoes and clothes; you’ve eaten a pre-workout snack or meal; and you have any equipment you need for the workout. 

Be There for Your Partner (In the Right Ways)

One of the best things about partner workouts is the extra encouragement. However, remember that not everyone takes encouragement in the same way. For example, some people thrive when they’re shouted at or egged on—others, not so much. 

“Ask your partner how they like to be cheered on during workouts instead of assuming they enjoy the same type of encouragement you do,” Amanda says. “From experience, I know things can quickly turn sour when partners aren’t on the same page.”  

Build Trust

Trust is a big part of making partner workouts successful. Let your partner know you’re there for them and that they can ask for movement modifications and rest breaks without feeling judged. 

“Both partners should feel safe and excited as the clock ticks down to go time,” Amanda says. “You’re not off to a good start if one or both partners feels like they’ve committed to something too hard or like they can’t ask for help, rest, or modification.” 

Our takeaway

The team at Garage Gym Reviews loves partner workouts. They’re a great way to bond with friends and get an extra dose of motivation and accountability. By following the partner workout ideas and tips above, you and your workout partner can have an absolutely epic training session. 

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