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What to Look for in a Workout Buddy

Workout Partners

Starting a fitness program is easy. All you have to do is make a decision to begin exercising. The tough part is showing up for the workouts. If you want to get in shape, but have trouble rolling off the couch, think about getting a workout partner.

There are lots of advantages.

You're less likely to get sucked into a mindless TV show when you have a training buddy waiting for you at the gym. Plus, workouts tend to go quicker when you have a friend to pass the time with. Here are a few of the things you should look for before you make a commitment.

The first trait you want is someone who's reliable. It's incredibly frustrating to be waiting at the gym, ready to go but your workout partner is nowhere around. Look for someone who shows up promptly. So that there's no mistake, set your starting time for after you've changed into gym clothes and warmed up. If your buddy is late, don't wait. Start your program on time and have them join you when they arrive. That way they'll know you mean business.

Consistency is critical. You'll get the best results if you're consistent over time. If your workout partner will be gone for long periods on vacation, for work or whatever, you're the one who may suffer. The reason you choose a workout partner is to have someone to exercise with. It's hard to do that if they're always gone.

Look for someone with a schedule that matches up to yours. If you like working out in the morning, don't start exercising at night for the sake of a partner. Pick someone who keeps a similar schedule and is available at the same time.

Make sure you have compatible goals. Are you doing lots of cardio to slim down but have a workout partner that wants to beef up? If the two of you aren't heading in the same direction, you'll end up resenting each other and looking for excuses to quit.

Get a partner with similar abilities. While it's virtually impossible to find someone at exactly the same fitness level as you, it's better if you're strong enough to give each other a spot when lifting heavier weights. If the difference is too large, you'll spend lots of time stripping weight bars down and loading them up again between sets.

Find someone you're willing to learn from that's also open to learning from you. Good workout partners will constantly challenge each other to try new exercises and learn new programs. Look for someone who's not afraid to try something different.

Choose someone who will motivate you. No matter how dedicated you are, there are times when going to the gym is a chore. On days when you just don't want to go, a workout partner will be there to give you an emotional boost.

Select someone who acts safely and responsibly. A serious workout means you'll probably be lifting serious weight. The last thing you want is someone who'll goof off or ignore you when you're straining during a heavy lift. You also want to avoid someone who'll jump in too soon and take the pressure off before you've really stressed your muscles. Look for a workout partner that can tune into how you lift and when you need help.

Running With Dog A little note for those special cases. Every once in awhile I meet someone who would benefit from a workout partner, but it's just not going to happen. There may be a problem with scheduling (you want to exercise at midnight), personality (you don't want to talk) or geography (you live in a small town or rural setting). If you can't find a workout partner, consider getting a dog.

A dog that can keep up with you when you run or jog is a terrific motivator. They don't complain. They don't talk back. They don't keep you waiting and they're always ready and excited to exercise.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

7/5/2009
Updated 9/2/2014