In the gym, there are always a few constants which we can count on seeing when we walk in the door on any given training day. Monday will always be crowded in the chest section as young men work to build their pectorals. Tuesday is always packed with female trainers looking to work their glutes. Friday is usually the day people will hit arms quickly before heading to the club. And, above all, most people train solo.
Training alone allows you to train at any time, at your own pace, by your own schedule. But you also miss out on a wealth of benefits that buddy training provides.You'll often see a few buddies training with the weights… but how many Cardio Partners do you see in the gym? They're harder to spot - but the benefits of training cardio with a buddy may be just as plentiful. Let's learn more!
Q: What are the benefits of training with a cardio buddy?
A: The #1 reason to train cardio with a partner is COMPETITION! Cardiovascular exercise is among the most boring things to do in the world, ranked right beneath watching paint dry and watching grass grow. Most people truly never learn to truly "love" cardio… rather, they tolerate it.
Q: Am I more likely to train if I have a partner?
A: The same rules that apply to weight training with a buddy apply to the cardio world as well. Accountability, support, and of course, motivation are going to be present when you train with a partner, in a very real way. Every time you miss workout, you are letting someone down in a big way - which means you're going to be much more likely to show up for a workout, even if you are tired. This means you're likely to go to bed a bit earlier, eat a little better, and prepare for the upcoming workout because it isn't just yourself that you'll be letting down - it's your training partner as well!
Q: Is there any proof that buddy cardio training makes any real difference?
A: The good people at Annals of Behavioral Medicine conducted a study to answer your exact question. They started with a large group of women, and placed them into two smaller groups. One group trained alone, knocking out their daily cardio at 65% of heart rate. The other group trained with an onscreen partner, in actuality a videotaped loop. The challenge was, of course, to see who would stop training first. The results were a little surprising. The group of riders with imaginary training partners trained for an average of 19.77 minutes, while the isolated cardio trainer stopped after 10.6 minutes. Just seeing a person competing against you - a looped person on a screen - nearly doubled performance time. Imagine how amazing the results would have been if the cyclists would have been training next to actual human beings! Just the thought of training with a buddy boosted their output, and it can do the same for you too!
Q: What if there is a huge discrepancy between our performance capabilities?
A: It's very common for workout partners to soon discover the strength levels of one is much greater than the other. Just as the stronger trainer would use more weight for his/her set, the trainer with the greater cardiovascular base would train at a higher intensity, or start before the partner with the lesser ability began. Over time, the discrepancy would lessen. Ideally, you would want a training partner with similar levels of capability for best outcome, but that isn't always an available option.
Q: What should I do when my cardio partner can't make it?
A: It's going to happen. Your best bet is just to shrug it off, work hard to match your usual buddy-fueled workout intensity, and be sure to let him/her have it the next time you make contact. Even FaceTime over the smart phone can be enough motivation for a sick training partner in bed to provide a little boost to your training efforts!
Q: What is the best way to find a cardio partner?
A: Many trainers equate finding that ideal workout partner to finding the perfect spouse. It may even be more difficult than that! You're searching for a person with physical compatibility who shares your schedule, training goals, workout intensity, appreciation for diet and recovery, and someone you can tolerate talking to for the most painful 5 to 7 hours of your week. That's a lot to ask! Ask around, use social media, and train with a few buddies until you find the one that is perfect!
Q: One of our schedules is changing.. how can we adjust?
A: Real life has an odd way of banging into us at times, leaving us unable to line up schedules as was once possible. If this ever occurs, your best bet is to see if you can make an arrangement to match schedules. Or, scales back workouts to just two days a week, perhaps weekends when you are both off work. Some people need to spend time apart for a variety of reasons, reconnecting down the road when the factors line up correctly once again.
Q: Is a training buddy an absolute need?
A: For most people, the thought of adding a cardio training buddy never enters their mind, and they see solid results without the inclusion of a partner. For those that are willing to give it a try, the results could be monumental, as the study above shows. You have nothing to lose by giving it a shot!
There you have it… We've answered the most common questions regarding training cardio with a partner. You shouldn't need any more convincing… it's time to buddy up, hit the machines, and make your mark, twice as hard as you have previously trained. Go for it!