5 of the Best Partner Exercises to Build Strength

Though tons of students meet up at the library to study together, very little work actually gets done. Instead of using that time to hit the books, it’s more often spent chatting, looking at pictures, and taking online quizzes to find out which Hogwarts house everyone would belong to. When friends head to the gym to work out together, it’s usually the same story. Lifts that don’t require spotters mean one person is standing around for too long and efforts on the cardio equipment can suffer since you need to go slow enough to be able to maintain a conversation. But partner exercises can be hugely beneficial.

In order to reap the benefits of exercising with a partner without slacking, you just need to shift your method a little bit. Instead of doing the same workout you would normally do on your own, go for a routine that’s designed for two people. These five exercises are a great way to get started. Try them out at your next sweat session to have fun while you get fit.

1. High-five push-ups

friends, exercise, push-ups

Give some high-fives to a friend with this workout. | iStock.com

Regular push-ups are a classic move that will never go out of style since they’re easy to do and also so effective. They challenge your arms, shoulders, chest, and core, and you can easily increase the intensity with a slight variation. With the high-five push-up, you’ll raise one hand off the ground, which forces your core to work harder to stay stable throughout the move.

To perform this exercise, you and your buddy should each get into a push-up position with your heads pointed toward each other. You should be just a few feet apart. At the same time, lower yourselves until your chests are just above the ground, then push back up to the starting position, keeping your elbows close to your sides. As soon as you reach the top of the move, raise your right hands off the ground, slap hands sideways, then return your hands back to the ground. Repeat the move, and switch to the left hand.

Because this exercise requires you and your friend to move in unison, it’s a good idea to vocalize the push-ups when you are moving down as well as up. It’ll also prevent you from rushing through the move too fast, which can compromise your form. You want to stay smooth, steady, and keep your body as flat as possible.

2. Lying leg throw down

abs, fitness, exercise

There’s no cutting corners and plenty of benefits with this workout. | iStock.com

It’s easy to cheat on abdominal exercises, which isn’t good news for those trying to strengthen their midsection. Take crunches, for example. Instead of using the core muscles to rise off the ground, most guys clasp their hands behind their head, which enables them to get to the same position by using their arms. With the lying leg throw down, there isn’t the same opportunity to cut corners, partially because your partner will be keeping watch.

In addition to challenging your abs, this move is great for hip flexors. Most of us spend all day sitting at work, which forces our hip flexors into a shortened position. So much time with this form can lead to weak, stiff hips that compromise mobility, so strengthening this area is pretty important. You can also incorporate your obliques by moving your legs in different directions, making this a pretty stellar strength move.

Get into position by lying on the ground with your partner standing just above your head. Grasp his ankles to keep yourself balanced, then raise your legs straight off the ground until they’re pointed at the ceiling, keeping your back pressed into the floor. Your partner will hold your ankles then forcefully throw your legs towards the floor. Your task is to resist the movement so your feet never hit the ground, then raise your legs back up, still keeping your back pressed to the floor. To engage all your core muscles, your partner should alternate directions. Head to Muscle & Fitness for a great video demonstration.

3. Reverse lunge with chest pass

medicine ball throw

Add a medicine ball to your workout for this lunge exercise. | iStock.com

Basic lunges are one of the best moves for strengthening your glutes and quads, but they’re pretty much a single-person exercise. Fortunately, it’s easy to adapt the classic in a way that incorporates a buddy and also increases the intensity. This variation involves a medicine ball, which is great for a few reasons. First of all, it makes the lunge more challenging thanks to the added load. Secondly, you’ll incorporate your arms, chest, and core during the toss, making this a full-body exercise.

Instead of lunging forward, you’ll want to step back into the position. According to ACE Fitness, this slight change makes it easier to balance and puts less stress on your joints. Since the medicine-ball thrown will challenge your stability, you’ll still get enough of a challenge without as much risk of toppling over.

For this move, your partner should stand several yards in front of you. Holding the medicine ball at your chest and start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, step back into a lunge with both of your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Step back up into the starting position and toss the ball to your partner. When he catches it, he’ll go right into a lunge. Men’s Fitness recommended performing five repetitions on each leg.

4. Band sprints

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The resistance band workout is great for your explosiveness. | iStock.com

Short of racing each other, an effective cardio workout can be tough to achieve with a friend. Instead of huffing and puffing on neighboring treadmills, try a variation on intervals that uses your partner to boost your effort. All you need is a little bit of clear space and a resistance band.

Greatist recommended on option where you’ll strap a resistance band around your waist while your partner securely holds the ends. Pick a finish line, then sprint as fast as you can towards it while your partner stands in place. As the band stretches, you’ll have to work harder to reach your designated spot. Repeat a few times, then switch places.

The other option is to sprint in place. Once again, strap the band around your waist and have your partner stand firmly in position while grasping the ends. Walk out until the band is fully extended, then sprint in place as you lean forward. You want to go as fast as you can, driving your arms and knees for 20 to 30 seconds. Head over to STACK to see a demonstration.

5. Wheelbarrow row

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Your partner will help add intensity to this workout. | iStock.com

The bench press is a favorite for building chest and arms strength, yet too many guys focus on it without incorporating exercises that work the opposing muscle groups. According to Men’s Health, including the inverted row to strengthen your upper back and rear shoulders can help keep these muscles strong to prevent pain and injury down the road.

Some guys are already familiar with the move and know they can make it more challenging by raising their feet off the ground. To increase your effort even more, though, you’ll need the help of a friend. Instead of resting your feet on a solid surface while you row yourself up, you’ll have your buddy hold your ankles. This creates an unstable surface, forcing you to work harder.

To do this exercise, get into position at a row bar set to about the height of your chest. Hang with your arms fully extended and your legs straight out in front of you, with your heels resting on the ground. From here, your partner will lift your legs, holding an ankle in each hand. Pull yourself up towards the bar until your chest touches it, then lower yourself back down. Bodybuilding.com said to aim for two sets of 10 repetitions. As the move becomes easier, have your buddy hold your feet higher in the air.