Here's why a workout buddy is important to improve your fitness

Exercising alone can be a struggle as there is nobody to push or distract you. Photo: AFP

A FRIEND is like a good bra – supportive, comfortable, always lifts you up, makes you look better, and remains close to you heart.

You may have heard that one before.

Unless you’re one of those highly dedicated, disciplined individuals who can rise at the crack of dawn, lace up your sneakers and get your daily endorphin fix, the majority of people find it difficult to stay motivated when it comes to working out.

Exercising alone can be a struggle – there is nobody to push or distract you, and nobody to hold you accountable when you’re about to call it quits.

Humans are social animals and the need for interpersonal support is primal.

We seek the company and positive reinforcement of others, especially when we are doing work.

Having a fitness buddy or creating a social network for exercisers is guaranteed to benefit you.

The right workout partner will get you moving, keep you moving, tap into your extra reserves and challenge you.

This buddy can make a difference between failure and success, as well as mediocre results and incredible results.

Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation, and in some cases, healthy competition.

Teamwork also tends to make people persevere longer.

Humans are social animals and the need for interpersonal support is primal. Photo: TNS

When you work with a partner or as part of a group, the pressure is on you to keep going, especially if other individuals in the group are fitter and stronger.

Giving up is the furthest from your mind.

Kiasu mentality? Maybe.

It’s called the Köhler effect, a phenomenon that occurs when a person works harder as a member of a group than when working alone.

During the 1920s, German psychologist Otto Köhler tried to explain why groups persisted longer than individuals working on their own.

The effect was explored in a weightlifting experiment, where members of a local rowing club were asked to perform standing curls with 44kg dumbbells as long as they could.

When performed in groups, the exercise was done with a bar weighing two or three times as much as the standard dumbbell, depending on how many people were involved in the experiment.

The study ultimately revealed that the weakest member of each group could persist far longer when performing standing curls with others than while executing the exercise in solitude.

Even if you don’t feel an attachment to your fellow fitness enthusiasts, their mere presence should motivate you to work harder than you would on your own.

If you develop a bond, then you will obviously enjoy the sessions, as well as the camaraderie.

It’s easy to bail on your own workout.

But it’s much harder to ditch a workout when you know you’re going to be letting someone down.

Choose someone who is positive, friendly, solution-focused and shares similar goals, so both of you can keep working for better results.

He also needs to respect your time, be dependable and possess a good attitude.

Forget the drill sergeants and rah-rah cheerleading types.

Ideally, your workout buddy should have some knowledge of fitness so he or she can correct your form and alignment.

Form is crucial in ensuring you minimise the risk of injuries.

If not, sign up with a trainer for a lesson of two, particularly if you’re new to exercise.

There is strength and safety in numbers.

Having someone to spot you when you do squats, lunges or planks makes working out much safer.

It’s also safer to jog or hike in twos in quieter neighbourhoods, lonely areas and forests.

When people start getting good results from their workouts, a little ego can creep in from time to time.

Exercising alone can be a struggle as there is nobody to push or distract you. Photo: AFP

A good training partner recognises 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.

Exercising is not only about looking good and flaunting that body, it could potentially be a lifesaver someday.

Try the buddy system, perhaps forge a friendship and reap the multiple benefits.

However, you need the right buddy, so go ahead and be picky!

Here are some tips sourced from the Net on how to be a good fitness buddy:

• Be sincere and keep tabs on your buddy.

Send messages or e-mails and wake-up calls if necessary.

• Always be on time.

• Push each other to go a little further each time.

• Keep things fresh by suggesting new routines and different routes. Mix and match for variety, which is the spice of life.

• Get to know your buddy by sharing stories about each other.

• Talk about topics other than fitness. The more you care about your partner as a person, the stronger your alliance will be. But, don’t wallow in negative talk. It’s an energy downer.

• Remind your partner of his goals and encourage him when the going gets tough.

• Keep the schedule flexible and change workout times if the situation calls for it.

• Laugh – not at your buddy, but with him. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain and conflict, and a good, hearty one relieves physical tension, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.

Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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