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Successful workout partnerships

This is an excerpt from Partner Workouts by Krista Popowych.

Accommodating Mismatched Partners

In some training situations, having an equally matched partner is not always possible or feasible. A couple working out together creates an ideal partnership based on their household circumstances. But it is not necessarily a perfect match. Although they are very comfortable with each other, they may not be evenly matched physically. In this couple scenario, one partner may be shorter and more cardiovascular fit, and the other partner may be stronger and weigh much more.

With an uneven matchup, choosing the correct workout format and exercise combinations become an important program planning consideration. In this example, exercises that alternate from one partner to another may be a better option. For example, the stronger partner does 45 seconds of jumping jacks while the shorter partner performs push-ups, then they switch. The stronger partner transitions to the push-ups and the shorter partner does the jumping jacks. In the next set, the stronger partner performs bent-over rows with 30-pound weights and the wife skips, switching again after the designated time. But in this round, the shorter partner uses a 15-pound weight set. Both partners perform the same exercise, but at different loads and intensities.

In partner workouts with two evenly matched partners, format choice tends to be easier. Generally, any type of training plan will work and require minimal modifications. With mismatched partners, program consideration factors strongly into the workout equation. Bodyweight partner exercises, in which one partner is using the other partner for resistance, are not always ideal for partners that are very unevenly matched. For example, in a plank and push-up combination (see page 64), one partner holds a straight-arm plank while the other performs a push-up on the partner’s back. This exercise would be too intense for the weaker partner, especially in holding the plank position.

Other partner mismatches may include one partner having an injury or chronic condition, differences in fitness levels, extremes in body composition, or varying degrees of commitment or drive. It doesn’t mean the partnership won’t work; it just requires additional planning, appropriate format choices, and modifying some of the exercises.

Partner Training With Children

Embodying a healthy and active lifestyle is the best gift you can give a child. Children and teens often use stimuli from the world around them to form opinions and establish thought processes early on about various concepts and actions.

As parents and caregivers, our actions often matter more than our words, and it is our subtle acts that can be the most powerful. Even if you never talk about the importance of exercise, when children see you doing it on a regular basis, they have established a connection.

Partner workouts with children and teens are an excellent way to connect with kids and engage in a fun workout that could possibly involve the entire family. Although not all exercises may be appropriate because of the age of the child, development stage, size difference, and overall ability, a great deal can be modified. The goal is not to perfect the exercise, but rather to be engaged and moving.

To get started, choose exercises that fall under the easy- to moderate-intensity levels, such as follow the leader (see page 130), which is interactive and fun, or try some of the less challenging cardio-focused moves. Children and young teens can better manage short-burst cardio exercise versus long duration sets. Using a piece of equipment is also a good option, especially tossing around a light medicine ball. Most kids are skilled at throwing activities. Lastly, if exercises are combined, such as the wide plank and agility footwork exercises in chapter 8, separate them into two. Mom does the plank and the son does the agility move, but he does not do the agility steps over the top of Mom’s feet as originally designed.

Regardless of the age of the child, keep the workout short, lasting approximately 20 to 30 minutes. The goal is to have fun, be engaged, sweat a little, and then let kids move on to the next activity in their day. And who knows, if the workout feels fun and too short, they may ask for more. It becomes something they want to do, versus your driving it.

More Excerpts From Partner Workouts