Boost Your Workout Results by Partnering Up with a Fitness Buddy!

Working out is a great way to burn calories, stay fit, and manage weight. But did you know there’s an easy trick to increase the number of calories you burn by up to 200 percent during exercise? A study from Kansas State University discovered that partnering with someone who is a more accomplished athlete than you can dramatically boost your efforts and calorie burning. Let’s dive deeper into the study and the science behind it.

Partner Up with a Stronger Athlete

Researcher Brandon Irwin says, “People like to exercise with others and make it a social activity. We found that when you’re performing with someone who you perceive as a little better than you, you tend to give more effort than you normally would alone.”

In the study, women were asked to exercise on a stationary bike. They were partnered with a “teammate” who seemed to be about 40 percent more fit than they were. Interestingly, the teammate was not real, but a video creation meant to create extra motivation. The experiment showed that the participants exercised 200 percent longer by the final session when they biked with the “teammate” compared to those who biked alone. As a result, they burned about 200 percent more calories.

The Psychological Factor

The motivation to exercise harder and longer is deeply rooted in our desire to not let others down and to keep up with our peers. When working out with a partner who is more accomplished than you, it drives you to push yourself further and unleash that extra effort in order not to be left behind.

This concept is known as the Köhler effect, a phenomenon observed in group settings where people work harder as part of a group than they would when working alone. In the fitness world, this translates to working out with someone who we see as better or more experienced than us, which ultimately pushes us to perform better.

Tips for Partnering Up

So, how can you apply this knowledge to your own exercise routine? Here are some ideas:

  1. Find a workout buddy who is more experienced than you: Look for a partner who already practices the kind of exercise you’re interested in, and who is slightly more experienced than you. They can help you improve in technique, speed, or strength, depending on the type of workout.

  2. Join group workouts or fitness classes: Find group classes at your local gym, where you can surround yourself with people of various fitness levels, including those who are more experienced than you. Examples of group workouts include spinning, circuit training, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions.

  3. Connect with others through fitness apps: Many fitness apps offer elements of friendly competition and support. Some apps, like Strava and Fitocracy, allow you to track your workouts and compare your performance with other users.

  4. Participate in team sports: Get involved in team sports like basketball, soccer, or ultimate frisbee, where you can enjoy the benefits of group dynamics. Being part of a competitive team environment can significantly drive up your performance.

  5. Hire a personal trainer: If you’re really committed to pushing yourself, hiring a personal trainer can be a great investment. They can provide customized workouts, push you within your limits, and help hold you accountable to your goals.

The Bottom Line

Surrounding yourself with more accomplished athletes or teammates not only boosts your own performance but also increases the number of calories you burn during a workout. Give it a try and see how partnering up can take your exercise routine to new heights and get you closer to your fitness goals.