Hitting the gym solo can be a great way to relax and de-stress, but getting your sweat on with a partner brings along a host of other benefits. It’s easier to up the intensity when you’re exercising with another person, plus it’s a great way to catch up and spend some quality time with a friend. Armed with a buddy and some cute workout looks (fresh activewear is one of the best workout motivators, after all), you’ll be ready to take on this four-week fitness challenge. Each week, you’ll take on a new workout style with your self-care partner in crime, packed with moves that are nothing short of Instagram-worthy. Get ready to mix it up and sweat it out.
Face your partner with the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands touching. Your legs should be in a V-shape. Partner 1 leans over into a forward fold while Partner 2 leans slightly back and helps to intensify the stretch. Try to keep your spine straight when folding forward, and stop when your back starts rounding. Hold the pose for five breaths, then switch.
This move will really challenge your core. Face your partner while seated with your legs straight out in front of you, bend your knees, and press the soles of your feet against each other’s. Join hands and slowly lean back while extending your legs straight. Heads up: keep your core tight in this pose to protect your lower back, and don’t sweat it if you can’t extend your legs completely straight. You’ll still get the benefits even if your legs are bent! Breathe and balance while engaging your core for five breaths.
Stand facing your partner at arm's-length distance apart with your hands on each other’s shoulders. Slowly walk backwards until you’re each in a forward bend position where your torsos are creating a straight line at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Keep reaching your arms forward as you deepen the stretch — you should feel it in your shoulders. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try each lifting an opposite leg with your hips square to the ground and your feet flexed, turning this into both a stretching and a balancing pose. If you go for this option, be sure to repeat it on the other side.
Ready to light a fire in your glutes? Face your partner with your arms outstretched. Clasp each other’s hands, and with your feet hip-width apart, sit down into a deep squat. Be sure that your knees stay behind your toes in this position to protect your joints. Lean back so your shoulders are nearly in line with your hips, using each other’s weight equally as a support. Stay here for five breaths, or for an extra challenge, perform 10 squats in this setup, followed by five breaths holding the squat position.
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When it comes to pounding the pavement, a great warmup is crucial. Partner 1, do 10 knee-hug lunges, five on each side. To perform lunges, lift your right leg, hug it into your chest and pause, then step forward with your right leg into a deep lunge. Step your left leg forward to meet the right. Now repeat on your left leg. Pause at the top of the knee hug and the bottom of the lunge for the best stretch. At the same time, Partner 2: You’re doing heel-flicks (also known as butt-kickers) until your partner completes their lunges. Perform heel flicks by jogging so that your heel meets your backside each time you kick one of your legs back. Pump your arms for an added heart rate boost. Switch and repeat so you each do both exercises twice.
Here’s where things get interesting. Together with your partner, decide on a distance you want to cover or an amount of time you want to jog. Maybe it’s two miles or 30 minutes. Whatever you choose, complete it at a conversational pace. That way, you’ll get in your cardio and some chat time with your workout buddy.
A tabata is made up of eight 30-second intervals, each with 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, for a total of four minutes. Partner 1, you’re up first. Sprint for 20 seconds, then rest for 10. Partner 2, you take on the next 20-second sprint and 10-second rest. Continue switching until the entire tabata is completed. Try walking during your rest time so you don’t have to keep turning the treadmill on and off. Not comfortable doing this on a treadmill? Give it a try outdoors or use a stationary bike instead.
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Get things started with three minutes of steady jump roping. Too tough? Try 30 seconds of jumping followed by 30 seconds of rest for three minutes. Too easy? Throw in some double unders. Don’t have a jump rope? No big deal — just pretend you’ve got one and jump away.
Next up is a jab, cross, burpee sequence, alternating between partners. To perform the move, get into a boxing stance, with your less dominant foot forward, both feet at a 45-degree angle, feet hip-width apart, and torso facing forward. Your hands should be in loose fists in front of your face. Punch your front hand forward in a quick, strong motion, then snap back to your starting position. Now it’s time to cross. Punch your back hand forward while pivoting on your back foot. Snap back to your starting position and go for that burpee. Jump down into a plank, touch your chest to the ground, then spring back up to standing and jump at the top. When jumping back up to standing, spread your feet wide to make the transition easier.
Time to burn it up. Partner 1 starts with 10 punching lunges, five reps per side. Start by stepping your right leg forward and punching your left arm forward at the same time. Then return to the starting position and repeat with your left. Add some dumbbells if this feels too easy. Meanwhile, Partner 2 does plank jacks until Partner 1 is finished with lunges. To perform a plank jack, get into a forearm plank position and jump your feet out and in. Keep your backside down and glutes tight, even if it means doing fewer reps. Now switch!
Grab a medicine ball between five and 10 pounds and sit facing your partner with the bottoms of your feet touching and your legs in a narrow V-shape. Partner 1 performs a sit-up, touching the medicine ball on the ground behind their head, then sits up and passes the ball to partner 2. Work together to complete 20 reps. No medicine ball? Use a dumbbell instead or skip the weight altogether and speed it up.
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For this exercise, one partner works while the other maintains a static position. Partner 1, do 12 jump squats while Partner 2 holds a forearm plank. When performing the jump squat, bring your hips to parallel or just below parallel, then pass through standing and jump up in one fluid motion. When you land, go right into the next squat. Be sure to fully extend your hips at the top of the jump and squeeze your glutes. In the forearm plank position, keep your body in a straight line from shoulders to toes. Relax your shoulders so that your core is doing most of the work, not your upper body. Once the jump squats are completed, switch.
We’re bringing back the medicine ball for this exercise, so grab one between five and 10 pounds. A kettlebell or dumbbell will also work if needed. Sit back to back with your partner with your legs in a loose butterfly position. Pass the ball to your right, then twist to the other side when your partner passes it back to you. Keep your core tight as you perform the movement, really focusing on the twisting motion. Complete 10 reps in one direction, then switch and go in the opposite direction for 10 reps.
Not everyone loves push-ups, but these are a fun twist on the staple workout move. Face your partner in a plank position and perform a push-up. At the top of the push-up, clap your right hand into your partner’s left — like a sideways high five! Complete 10 reps together. If a full push-up is too difficult, do them on your knees.
Next up, another working and static combo. Partner 1, you’ll do 15 sit-ups while Partner 2 holds a superman position. During the sit-up, your feet should be hip-width apart on the floor with your knees bent. Extend your arms overhead and touch the ground behind the head, then contract your abs and sit up, touching the floor in between your feet. For the superman, lift your arms and legs off the ground. Your feet can be hip-width apart or together, and your arms should be extended forward in front of your head. Be sure to keep your neck long and gaze at the floor. Now switch.
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