Dwindling motivation can be your workout’s nemesis. Luckily, there’s an easy way to thwart it: Training with an exercise partner can increase the amount of time someone works out , reports a new study from Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology.
Researchers found that participants exercised twice as long when they biked against a simulated partner on a screen than the participants who biked alone (20 minutes compared to 11 minutes). Even better: Participants that cycled as part of a team alongside virtual partners exercised two minutes longer than their counterparts who rode independently with a partner.
“Humans are highly social by nature,” says study author Brandon Irwin, Ph.D. and a workout partner gives us someone to compare ourselves to and someone to stay accountable to. “This increases when a group setting is involved, because you don’t want to be the ‘weak link,’ ” he says. (Want more must-have fitness tips? Check out our list of the best new exercises for every part of a man’s body.)
Nowadays, technology allows you to work out alongside a digital buddy or connect with a cross-country friend to compare fitness progress. (Check out these 4 new get-fit gadgets.) But hitting the gym with a real-life workout partner works, too, says Irwin. “However, to get the biggest motivation boost, the partner must be slightly more fit than you.” Why? If his fitness levels are far superior to yours, then you might find yourself frustrated as you try to keep up. On the flip side, if your fitness partner is well below your fitness ability, then you may find yourself getting bored and unmotivated.
If you’re looking for the ultimate way to reignite your workout passion, sign up for the Men’s Health and Women’s Health Beach Boot Camp on August 18 and 19 in Long Beach, New York. You’ll compete a grueling and exhilarating 12-station, 90-minute circuit that will instantly improve every workout you ever do. That’s because fitness experts will introduce you to exercises you’ve never tried and equipment you’ve never seen. Plus, you’ll be sweating it out next to hundreds of other boot campers, so you’ll work harder and longer than you ever have before. Now, doesn’t that sound better than exercising alone?