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two people run down stairs

At the gym, solo workouts are the norm. Even at rush hour, you rarely witness much interaction beyond the occasional “Can I work in?”

There’s nothing wrong with cranking the tunes and grinding out a workout in solitude. But research shows that working out with a partner has perks, too — for your friendship as well as your health.

“You work harder in a group setting,” explains Life Time trainer Jason Sweetnam, NASM.

For an additional health boost, take your workout — and workout buddy — outside. It’s more than just a change of scenery, says Sweetnam: Research has shown that exercising in the great outdoors produces more energy and higher engagement with the activity than many indoor routines.

So grab a partner and run through this alfresco interval workout. You’ll not only test your fitness by tack­­ling odd-shaped obstacles and varied terrain, but you’ll also exper­ience the mind–body benefits of recon­necting with a sweaty pal — and Mother Nature.

The Workout

Find a green space — a public park or wooded area ­— equipped with a bench and a hill or staircase. After a dynamic warm-up (for ideas, visit “The Perfect Warmup”), perform this workout in superset fashion, moving through pairs of exercises with minimal rest between moves.

partner workout chart

The first two moves, for example, involve one partner performing pushups as the other does broad jumps. The partners then switch stations, proceeding through the superset one or two more times, depending on their fitness levels, before moving to the next pair of moves. It’s helpful to choose a partner with roughly the same fitness level as you.

 

illustration of pushup and broad jump

1A. Pushups

  • Assume a pushup position with hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder width, hands and the balls of your feet on the floor, arms locked out, and body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
  • Keeping your body straight and your head in a neutral position, simultaneously bend your arms and retract your shoulder blades, lowering your body until your chest is close to the floor.
  • Reverse the movement, pushing yourself back up to the starting position.
  • Perform as many reps as possible in the allotted time, resting as needed.
  • Too tough? Perform half pushups, lowering yourself just halfway to the ground.

1B. Broad Jumps

  • As your partner performs pushups, assume an athletic stance — feet at shoulder width, back straight, gaze forward.
  • Bend your knees and swing your arms behind you.
  • Swing your arms forward and upward, and use the power from your hips to jump forward.
  • Land softly and repeat the movement for the prescribed time limit.

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Illustration Tricep Dips on Bench and Jump Lunges

2A. Bench Dips

  • As your partner performs the alternating lunge jump, sit on a bench or railing and place your palms on the seat beside you, thumbs toward your body.
  • Keeping your elbows locked out, walk your feet forward so your hips are in front of the bench.
  • Extend your legs forward and place your heels on the floor in front of you.
  • Keeping your elbows in, and your torso as upright as possible, bend your arms until your elbows form about a 90 degree angle.
  • Reverse the movement and return to the starting position, squeezing the backs of your arms as hard as possible.
  • Repeat for as many reps as possible in 20, 30, or 40 seconds.
  • No bench? Perform the move with your hands on the ground.

2B. Alternating Lunge Jumps

  • As your partner performs bench dips, stand upright with your right leg 2 to 3 feet behind you, toes of both feet pointed forward, left foot flat, ball of your right foot on the ground.
  • Jump in the air and switch the position of your feet.
  • Land in the starting position with your right foot forward and repeat, alternating sides for 20, 30, or 40 seconds.

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Illustration Stair Sprint and Bear Crawls

3A. Hill or Stair Sprints

  • Stand at the bottom of a hill, embankment, or staircase.
  • Sprint or scramble uphill at the maximum pace you can maintain for 20 seconds.
  • At the 20-second mark, jog down the hill at an easy pace and exchange places with your partner.
  • Hill too short? Go up the hill repeatedly at maximum speed, descending all the way or partway between efforts.

3B. Bear Crawls

  • Assume an all-fours position with your lower back in a natural arch, your knees below your hip joints, and your hands below your shoulders.
  • Place the balls of your feet on the ground and lift your knees off the floor until your lower legs are parallel to the floor.
  • Keeping your back flat and parallel to the floor, step your right foot and your left hand about 6 inches forward.
  • Repeat on the other side, stepping your left foot and your right hand about 12 inches forward.
  • Continue traveling forward about 10 yards, opposite hand and foot working together continuously, then perform the same movement traveling back to the starting point.
  • For a greater challenge, bear crawl up and down stairs alongside your partner.

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Illustration Burpee and Reverse Crab Toe Touch

4A. Burpees

  • Assume a shoulder-width, athletic stance.
  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend at the hips and knees and place your hands on the floor in front of you, shoulder width apart.
  • Jump your feet backward into the pushup position: feet at shoulder width, body straight from your head to your heels, and the balls of your feet on the floor.
  • Reverse the movement, jumping your feet back to the squat position, then standing fully.
  • Jump off the floor with your hands overhead. That’s one rep.
  • Continue performing the move as fast as possible for the prescribed time limit.

4B. Crab Pose Alternating Toe Touches

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent, your feet flat, and your hands flat on the ground beside you.
  • Straighten your arms, press your hands and feet into the ground, and lift your hips until your torso forms a straight line with your thighs.
  • Holding this position, raise your right foot and left hand from the ground and touch them together above your torso.
  • Lower your hand and foot, and repeat the movement with your left foot and right hand.
  • Continue alternating sides as fast as possible for the prescribed time limit.

This originally appeared as “Partner Power” in the June 2019 print issue of Experience Life.

Illustrations by: Kveta

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