Many people find that working out with a friend or gym buddy makes them stick to their fitness goals much better than people who try it alone. If you skip a workout you’re not only letting yourself down (discounting genuine reasons like illness or injury), but you’ll be letting them down too, which is an extra incentive to keep going.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a competitive person, you’d be amazed how much having someone else there to encourage you can help you to keep going that bit longer or harder. While you should never push yourself to the point of overtraining or injury in pursuit of winning, progressive overload – meaning taxing your body a bit harder each time – is needed in order for you to progress.
Anything that helps you progress with your fitness has to be welcomed and fitness challenges are a great way of doing this.
Find a willing and enthusiastic partner, be it a friend, spouse, or even a fellow gym goer and give these fun fitness challenges a go.
Choose an exercise that you can do in significant numbers – ideally a body weight exercise since if you use a very heavy weight neither of you will get many reps in. Burpees are perfect but other ideas include jump squats, press ups and tricep dips.
Choose a number that is both challenging enough but achievable with effort, such as 30 burpees (it sounds a lot but hear me out!). Set a timer and see who can complete the set first. All moves have to be done with correct form and technique (no cheating or half-burpees!), and you can rest and take breaks as often as you need to.
The first person to finish the set wins!
Loved by schoolkids and pub goers alike, this classic challenge is both fun and competitive. Sit opposite sides to your partner across a small table and each place one elbow on the table, hands pointing upwards (you’ll need to both choose either left or right hand – and preferably are both either left or right handed naturally to make it fair). Grasp hands and push against each others’ hand, aiming to bend your partners arm back down until it touches the table, while they push against you with the same goal. Whoever’s back of hand touches the table first loses.
Similar to the Timed Challenge, but with no set time or number to aim for. Both partners get into a plank position and hold for as long as possible. This is simple and safe enough to even do in smaller spaces at home since you’re not moving about and there’s not much chance of knocking into things or each other. Try it when the TV is on and you might find the distraction helps you both to hold for longer too!
Just like you did at school, but without the unflattering nylon shorts! Set a start and finish line, and race to the end. Make sure the area you choose is safe with no cars or other dangerous obstructions in the way. An open playing field or park is perfect, or some treadmills have a set distance function so you can fix the length of the race manually even in an indoor gym setting.
If you can get to a good maze this is excellent fun. Both make your way to the middle of the maze, then race to get out. This works best if it’s both a challenging maze and unfamiliar to you both, so no one has a fair advantage and it’s not too easy or over too quickly.
Similar to the Timed Challenge only this time it’s not the number of reps that’s set but the time to complete them in, with the challenge being to complete as many reps as possible within a set time. For example how many you can do in 2 minutes. Squats, kettlebell swings or walking lunges if you have enough space all work well. The caveat is every exercise has to be done correctly with perfect form. Half squats don’t count!
You can keep the momentum going by keeping score cards of the results and noting changes each week as you both progress and get fitter and stronger. That way it doesn’t matter who scores highest; if you’re both improving and making progress, you’re both winners!