This was such a pleasure to write in large part because I SO believe that couples who train together thrive together!!! My outdoor adventures with James and Olive really are one of the highlights of my life!!! Such pockets of joy!!! Being active with someone you love is a great way to strengthen the relationship, cultivate physical AND emotional health, have some FUN, and ensure that you actually follow through on the workout!! I am much less likely to skip when I know someone is counting on me!!!!
This article was originally published on Cupid’s Light.
We all know that daily movement is critical for our long-term health. Unfortunately, when it comes to working out, knowing and doing are often two very different things!
How do we turn knowledge into action? How do we make ourselves train regularly?
One solution is to make your life partner your exercise partner. Couples who train together thrive together!!
Give yourself (and your significant other) the gift of accountability. We are all much less likely to bail when we know someone is counting on us!! As a bonus, spending time together will strengthen your relationship! The importance of carving out quality time with your significant other is something most of us know but don’t necessarily always do. Life sometimes gets in the way.
Find what works for you and your partner. Work to find things that you both enjoy —or at least activities you don’t despise. The benefits of any workout are moot if you can’t make yourself do it. Consistency is key!! Read through my suggestions below. If they don’t work for you, no problem, use them as a jumping-off point. Be creative. As my mother taught me growing up, “find solutions, not excuses”!
Partner Fartlek Intervals
With intervals, you alternate between bouts of high-intensity and low-intensity training. This places a high metabolic demand on the body, burns heaps of calories in a short amount of time, produces a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increases mitochondria growth (mitochondria help to burn fat), and helps to improve one’s fitness level. Intervals are not only effective and efficient, but they are also convenient – you can do them anywhere, on any piece of equipment, or even without equipment.
Traditional interval training is structured. Participants decide in advance their time parameters – think 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of recovery.
Fartlek intervals are unstructured. Participants choose their interval length organically throughout the workout. An example would be picking a landmark and sprinting towards it, then recovering, then repeating the process towards yet another landmark. Try fartlek training with your partner. Walk, run or bike outside. Want to stay home? Try skipping, or if you are lucky enough to own indoor cardio machines, use them.
Start by warming up for ten minutes. For the main body of the workout, the partners take turns being the trainer and saying “go.” Suppose you are outside, sprint toward a destination of the trainer’s choice. Inside, speed up on your machine for however long the trainer decides. The trainer can make the workout as hard or as easy as possible by changing how often and how long the intervals will be. If you are using music and making up your own workout, just dance around and/or do old-school aerobics. The trainer randomly decides when to “go hard.” Maybe during the chorus of a song to which you are listening?
Are fartlek intervals not your jam? No problem, try structured interval training such as Tabata.
Tabata can be accomplished outside as you run or bike and/or with cardio moves in the comfort of your living room. One set of Tabata consists of eight sets of 20 seconds of all-out work followed by 10 seconds of recovery. Try running your household or condo stairs or doing burpees, squat jumps, or jumping jacks. Trust me — you and your partner will sweat.
Try taking the same virtual Pilates, strength, and/or yoga class (James and I like completing a short yoga class to unwind at the end of the day). Or do separate workouts in the same space. Any workout is a good workout! If you want something a little different, try “partner strength moves.” These moves have you interacting, which is kind of fun– and fun is good. Boredom is the kiss of workout death!!
Complete 10-12 reps of each exercise back-to-back with no rest. After completing the circuit, take a minute to recover and have some water. Then complete the circuit one to two more times. If you are feeling especially energetic, do a minute of cardio before your rest. Try jumping jacks or burpees.
Tapping push-ups: Both you and your partner start in a push-up position from your knees or toes, heads toward each other. Then, bend your elbows to lower yourselves down toward the floor. As you push back up, high-five each other using your right hands. Do ten reps, alternating hands. Try to keep your hips stable.
Squat passes – Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, facing your partner. Partner “A” has a medicine ball or a pillow. Both partners bend at their hips, knees, and ankles and sit backward like they are sitting in a chair. Your back should be straight, and there should be no rounding forward. Use bum and core stand up. As you stand, partner “A” throws the ball. Partner “B” catches it. On the next rep, partner “B” throws to “A.” Keep alternating back and forth.
Partner reactive clock lunges: Stand in the middle of an imaginary clock. Your partner calls out a time — let’s say 7 pm. You translate it into military time and say “nineteen hundred hours” while simultaneously lunging to the corresponding number on the imaginary clock.
Partner-resist side planks: Both of you start in a side plank, facing each other, balancing on your left forearms and feet. While holding the side plank, place your right hands palm-to-palm. Holding this position, gently try to push your partner over. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Brace yourself through your core to stay stable.
Rest and repeat!
Workouts – even convenient home workouts with your partner – never “just happen.” Life is busy. Be intentional. Have a plan.
Schedule in your workouts! Block off time. Decide — in advance — the WWWH of your workouts. What will you do? Dance around your living room? Run your condo stairs? When will you do it? Morning? At lunch? Where will you do it? Do you have a home gym in the garage? Can you follow online workouts on your computer? How will you make it happen? What accommodations do you need to make? Does your spouse have to watch the kids? Do you need to block yourself out of Zoom meetings?
If you don’t consciously create a plan of action and schedule in your workouts, chances are you will take the path of least resistance — a path too often filled with Netflix and wine!
Think “done is better than perfect.” Let go of “perfect.” Consistency is what matters. The two-hour “perfect” workout you do once every month will NEVER elicit the results of daily bouts of consistent motion.