Photography By Winnie Au.
We’ve said it before: Training with a pal is a great way to stay accountable. You'll be more likely to make it to your morning boot-camp class — instead of hitting the snooze button, again — if there's someone there waiting for you to show up.
Who's the ideal workout buddy? Someone who's more fit than you. For a recent study published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, participants were asked to complete two rounds of "hold-as-long-as-you-can" planks. After the first round, the participants were told that exercisers similar to them (in age, gender, and fitness level) held the pose 20% longer than they did. This added a layer of friendly competition and peer pressure, as well as a goal — which may be why in the second round, participants surpassed their original plank time by roughly 5%. A control group did not receive any feedback, and ended up holding their second plank for less time than their first.
An earlier study finds that you should look for an exercise partner who is roughly 40% better than you. This difference in performance and fitness levels hits the sweet spot by providing an inspirational challenge without seeming completely unattainable. And, your buddy should skip the screams of encouragement; researchers note that "motivating" messages ("COME ON! YOU CAN DO IT!") have the tendency to come off as more condescending than helpful. Remember: This exercise competition should be friendly for all involved.
Now, if only there were a Tinder for finding your ideal exercise mate.