Couples’ workouts are a great way to spend time with someone while getting fit. They can also ruin relationships if poorly executed. Couples’ workouts can be particularly challenging if one partner is much fitter than the other.
This post will help you make the most of couples’ workouts so that everyone can get in a challenging and fun activity together.
Good to know:
These tips are also suitable for workout buddies and fitness partners—not just couples!
Benefits of Couples’ Workouts, Workout Buddies and Fitness Partners
Working out with someone else has many benefits:
- Everyone is more likely to stay accountable to their fitness goals.
- A workout partner who is fitter than you can help you push yourself.
- Couples’ workouts can boost a couple’s sex life.
- Working out with a partner can deepen the relationship.
- Your partner can help you improve your technique.
However, couples’ workouts can be tricky to navigate. A fitter partner may feel like their less fit partner will hold them back. They could feel like they’re letting their partner or gym buddy down. The less fit partner may become demoralized.
These seven strategies will help you make the most of your couples’ workouts, whether they’re with a special someone, a workout buddy or a fitness partner!
Tip 1: Be Honest
Acknowledge the difference in fitness. Be respectful and don’t put each other down. Don’t downplay the fitness differential. Instead, call it out respectfully and tie it to the purpose of the workout (more on that below).
It can be tempting for the fitter partner to pretend that they aren’t fitter. This is a swift way to annoy your less fit workout partner because you are basically lying to them. They could feel even less comfortable working out with someone more fit than them.
Couples, workout buddies and fitness partners all want to get in a good workout. Reducing your activity to match your partner’s abilities can lead you to resent working out with them. Alternatively, the less fit partner can feel pushed too hard to keep up and even lead to a preventable overuse injury.
Once you begin from a place of honesty, you’re ready to plan your workout!
Tip 2: Make the Couples’ Workout Challenging for Everyone
Workouts need to be challenging to be effective. The trick with couples’ workouts is making the exercise appropriately challenging for each person.
Here are some ways fitter partners can make workouts more challenging while respecting their partner’s abilities:
- Do some intervals during your workout. Return to your partner for the recovery portion of the interval. Short sprints are perfect because you won’t get very far and you need a long time to recover at a very easy pace.
Make it harder: The less fit partner can have a bit fun if they go harder/faster while the fitter partner is returning back to them. This will decrease the recovery time the fitter partner has. It also makes the less fit partner an active participant.
- Similar to the one above, go full speed up hills and return to your partner as they make their way.
- Focus on technique. Try increasing leg speed turnover if running or cadence if cycling. Try improving your ground contact time balance. Try these drills to improve your running form. You have to go slow to work on technique anyway.
- Start your workout before or continue working out after your fitness partner stops. This may mean already doing a loop before starting your couples’ workout or doing an extra loop at the end. Do push-up variations or plank variations afterward!
- If the activity starts or ends from a location that is further from your home, the fitter partner can bike or run to the start or back home after the workout. Plus it can be environmentally friendly!
- Make active recovery your workout goal. It can be easy to skip recovery days or push too hard when you should be taking it easy. Working out with someone who is less fit than you is a great way to sneak in an active recovery session. Plus, you have the mental rejuvenation of having a fun experience with someone.
Tip 3: Be the Lead Dog
The fitter partner can carry water, snacks or extra clothes. Push a stroller or pull a bike trailer if kids are along for the journey!
This has the effect of making the workout more challenging for one partner. It also gives security for the less fit partner since they know they have easy access to everything they might need.
The fitter partner can also take the lead on navigating routes. This takes the mental energy needed to navigate off the less fit partner’s mind. They can just focus on finishing the workout and not unnecessary details.
Route selection is also critical to couple workouts.
Tip 4: Partner Perfect Routes
Choose a route that both partners find comfortable. A route filled with hills is not the best idea if one partner will be on their limits the whole time. Pick shadier routes if it’s hot.
Multiple exit points or loops of a shorter route are great route choices. This is so that if the workout is too much or someone isn’t feeling well, they can easily get back home. This will help take away some of the pressure on the less fit partner.
You can also make the route an activity with a goal destination. For example, run to a swimming hole and jump in, then run home. Run to a friend’s house, take a break, then run home. Make the journey the workout and have fun with it!
Set your couples’ workout up for success from the start by making it clear that it’s okay to cut the planned route short. The fitter partner can keep going as long as the less fit partner is comfortable finding their way home alone.
Tip 5: Set Couples’ Workout Specific Goals
State workout goals clearly before the workout. Work on goals you cannot work on alone. For example, make the focus of the workout mental health, building fortitude or bonding and deepening your relationship.
Your brain is a muscle: don’t neglect it. Mental and emotional health is critical to building this muscle.
Tip 6: Spice It Up
Try new things! Pick an activity that neither of you has done before. New experiences deepen social bonds. You will both automatically be complete beginners! Here are some couples’ workout friendly activities to try next weekend (depending on the season):
- Standup paddleboarding
- Bouldering or rock climbing
- Tandem biking
- Mountain biking
- Rollerblading or rollerskating
- Swimming laps (try a new stroke)
- Skiing, snowboarding or cross country skiing
It doesn’t matter what the activity is so long as both partners want to have a good time and get in a bit of exercise. You could even do an active vacation based on activities neither of you has done before!
Tip 7: Embrace Differences
This tip may not be for everyone. If one partner is super strong and one is smaller, consider doing something like acrobatics. Dancing—think swing dancing—could also be fun. These types of activities only reveal themselves when partners have very different physical characteristics!
Who knows, you might find something you really enjoy and both of you are uniquely good at!
Couples’ Workout Exercises and Routines
adidas Training has thousands of workouts you can do as a couple or with a workout or fitness partner!
Try these workouts and check out the exercises in the adidas Training App!
8-Minute Fit Together Workout
Dynamic Duo Partner Workout
Max Motivation Partner Workout