You've heard it before: Some things are better together. Studies show working out with a partner has more benefits than hitting the weight rack or treadmill solo. Doing a workout with a friend, coworker, or significant other can increase accountability, keep spirits high, and even spur better results. (Bonus: It can also rev libido. The roles of testosterone and alpha-amylase in exercise-induced sexual arousal in women. Hamilton LD, Fogle EA, Meston CM. The journal of sexual medicine, 2008, Jan.;5(4):1743-6109. ) With that in mind, here are 29 creative exercises that prove teamwork can make your workouts a lot more fun.
1. Partner Heel Taps
Partner A lies faceup, with Partner B standing at A's head. A brings feet into table-top position (shins parallel to the ground). B holds both ends of the resistance band and with A's help, carefully loops the band around A's feet. Throughout the movement, B should be standing, core tight, knees slightly bent, arms holding the ends of the band. Once in position, A should contract core and slowly lower both heels toward the ground, taping heels, then returning to table-top position. Make sure the band is securely looped at the center of A's feet, so it won't snap back and hit your partner.
Make it easier: Loop the band around one foot instead of both. Keep both feet in table-top position, and only lower and raise the one foot with the resistance band.
2. Squat Jump
You'll need two resistance bands for this exercise. Stand facing each other, with each person holding one end of each resistance band, arms extended straight out. The band should have some light tension in it. Maintaining the position of your arms, both partners should squat by sending hips back, bending knees, keeping core tight, and lowering. In unison, partners jump up, maintaining band tension and arm position. Land lightly on toes, and immediately lower again.
3. Triceps Kickbacks
Stand facing each other with knees slightly bent, hips back, core engaged. Each partner should hold one side of a resistance band on the same side (so right hand for one partner, left hand for the other). Hinge slightly toward each other from the waist. Both partners should bend elbows 90 degrees and hug elbow and biceps to their sides. Now extend the arm, using triceps to push the band away from your partner, keeping elbow hugged into side throughout the movement. Slowly re-bend the arm and return to the 90-degree angle and repeat.
4. Partner Press and Row
You'll need two resistance bands to complete this move. Stand one in front of the other a few feet apart, so the second person is looking at her partner's back. The person in back, Partner B, will hold one end of each resistance band in each hand, while Partner A holds the other ends. Partner A should step forward until there is light tension in the band, and with staggered feet for additional stability, perform a chest press.
Complete the chest press by raising arms to your side, and beginning with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Push forward, keeping arms parallel to the floor, until elbows are fully extended. Focus on using your chest and back, not just your arms, to push the band forward. While you complete a chest press, your partner will simultaneously complete a row.
With a resistance band at each side, Partner B will pull the band up, flexing elbows, and squeezing shoulder blades together to complete a basic row. Try to time the movement so Partner B is at the top of the row (with elbows bent) as Partner A is fully extended in the chest press (arms straight). Repeat 8 to 12 reps, then switch roles.
5. Resistance Band Chest Press
Partner A holds both ends of the resistance band, with the loop hanging loosely behind body. Partner B will act as the anchor, holding the loop and stepping back until there is tension. From here, Partner A raises both hands to sides of body, elbows bent 90 degrees so elbows, biceps, and forearms are parallel to the ground. For balance, she can step right foot forward into a slight lunge. With core tight and a slight bend in the right knee, Partner A pushes forward, fully extending both arms, then slowly bends at the elbows to return to start. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, then switch roles.
6. Lunge and Full-Body Rotation
Stand side-by-side, each person holding one end of the resistance band with both hands. Stand far enough apart so there is light tension in the band. Simultaneously lunge forward with your outside leg (right leg for the person on the right, left leg for the person on the left), and sink into a lunge with both knees bent about 90 degrees, core tight, and back straight. From the bottom of your lunge, holding the band, rotate away from each other, keeping abs tight and only twisting the upper body (no pressure on the low back). Rotate back to center, push back up to start, and repeat 8 to 12 reps before switching sides.
7. Band Jumps
Begin with Partner A standing in front of Partner B, facing away. Loop the resistance band around A's waist, with B holding one end in each hand. A steps forward until there's light tension in the band. Now with B's knees slightly bent, and hips slightly back for stability, A will jump forward as far as possible. Jump by bending the knees, sending hips back, keeping core tight, and then exploding up and forward. Swing arms naturally for added momentum. Land lightly on toes, then take a few steps back to return to start position. Repeat quickly for 8 to 12 reps, then switch roles.
8. Trunk Rotation
You'll need two resistance bands to complete this move. Stand facing each other and loop the resistance band around your partner's waist, holding the ends, while your partner does the same to you. You should both be holding the ends of the band wrapped around your partner's waist. With good posture and core braced, rotate torso to the right while your partner does the same, so you're both rotating in opposite directions. Repeat, rotating this time to the left (so you both still rotate in opposite directions.) Move slowly, in both directions. Repeat for 12 to 15 reps, then rotate in the other direction.
9. External Rotation
Stand side-by-side, each partner holding one end of a resistance band in your outside hand. Adjust your stance so there is light tension in the band. Hold the band with your hand across your waist and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Now in unison, both rotate arms outward, keeping your elbow bent and glued to your side throughout.
10. Band Sprints
Loop a resistance band around your partner's waist and hold both ends in either hand. For stability, brace your core, bend knees slightly, and send hips back. The partner will sprint forward until the resistance band is taut and perform 30 seconds of high-knees, or sprinting in place. Slowly jog backwards to return to start position and switch roles.
11. Squat With Rotational Pass
Stand back-to-back and drop into a low squat so thighs are parallel to floor. Hold this position throughout the exercise. Partner A should hold the medicine ball at chest and rotating from the upper torso, hand the ball to Partner B over left side. Partner B should rotate right to take the ball and then quickly pass it over left side, so Partner A can accept the ball once again at his right side. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps in one direction, then change directions.
12. Lunge-to-Chest Pass
Face your partner standing at least 5 feet apart. Hold the medicine ball at chest, and step forward into a lunge, bending front and back leg 90 degrees, keeping your core tight and back straight. Your partner will also step forward into a lunge so now you're closer together. Chest pass the medicine ball to your partner by pushing it out from the center of your chest (similar to the chest press movement mentioned above with the resistance band). Your partner should catch the ball at chest level before stepping back to return to start position as you do the same. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides on the lunge.
13. High-Low Twist and Pass
Stand back to back with your partner. Holding the medicine ball overhead on a right diagonal, pass the ball over your right shoulder where your partner will take the ball, and draw it down and across his body, as his knees bend into a squat. He'll pass the ball back to you low by his left shins, where you'll grab it and draw it up and across your body to the upper right diagonal to repeat. The 'orbit' of the ball should be an oval. Repeat for 10-15 reps, then switch directions.
14. Russian Twist Pass
Begin sitting back-to-back, with a few inches between you. Both partners should raise legs into a table-top position and lean back slightly to help with balance. Your shoulders may touch to provide additional support. Partner A holds the medicine ball at chest and (like the squat with rotational pass), hands the ball to Partner B over left side, while Partner B reaches for the ball over right side. Partner B twists to the other side, completing the circle by handing the ball over left side to Partner A. Keep abs tight throughout the movement and pay attention to only twisting from the upper back (no pressure on the low back). Pass the ball as quickly as possible without throwing it.
Make it easier: Allow heels to rest on the ground (rather than keeping feet in table-top position) for additional stability.
15. Lateral Lunge With Throw
Stand facing each other about 3 feet apart. Partner A can take one step to his left, while partner B takes one step to his left so that you are staggered. Holding the medicine ball at chest, Partner A takes a wide step to the right, sending hips back and keeping abs tight while lowering into a low lateral lunge and bringing the medicine ball down to right side on a slight diagonal. The left leg should be straight. Simultaneously, Partner B takes a wide step to the right (away from partner), and also comes into a low lateral lunge (without the medicine ball). Now in one smooth movement, both partners push off their right foot, and as they return to start position, Partner A throws the medicine ball laterally to Partner B. Partner B catches the ball and immediately steps out with the right foot into a right lateral lunge, allowing the ball to come down on the same right diagonal. Partner A does the same, sans ball. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides.
16. Overhead Pass With Squat
Time to get up close and personal. Stand back-to-back with several inches between you, one partner holding a medicine ball overhead. The other partner will then reach up and grab it overhead, then both will drop into a low squat. The partner with the ball will then roll it between legs for the other partner to pick up and start again. Continue for 8 to 12 reps, then switch, so that the other partner is rolling the ball between legs.
17. Sit-Up Pass
Both partners lie faceup, knees bent, feet flat on the floor with ankles overlapping. Partner A holds the ball with extended arms overhead. Contract abs and sit up, bringing up arms and medicine ball to face partner. At the same time, Partner B also performs a sit-up without the ball. A hands B the medicine ball. As both partners lower, B takes the ball overhead to lightly tap it on the ground behind head before sitting up and passing the ball back to A.
18. Partner Floor Slams
Stand facing your partner a few feet apart. Partner A begins by holding a medicine ball overhead and throwing it to the ground so it bounces once before reaching Partner B. With the core engaged, B catches the ball and raises it overhead before throwing it back to the ground and passing back to A. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps each.
18. Forward-Backward Lunge With Pass
In this move, one of you will lunge forward, while the other lunges backward. Stand facing each other about one foot apart, Partner A holding the medicine ball at chest. A steps forward with right foot, as B simultaneously steps backward with left foot. Both sink into a lunge by bending the front and back knees 90 degrees, keeping knees over ankles, back straight, and core tight. At the bottom of the lunge, A passes the medicine ball to B before both push off and return to start position. Now, B will take a step forward with the left foot, as A steps backward with the right foot and both sink into a lunge. At the bottom of the lunge, B passes the ball to A, and then both push off to return to start position. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides.
19. Side Pass
Stand side-by-side, about 5 feet apart, with knees softly bent and abs contracted. Partner A holds the medicine ball at hip and throws it sideways to Partner B, who allows the ball to gently come to outside hip (with the ball's momentum), before tossing it laterally back to A. Continue to repeat, focusing on throwing the ball sideways (not up in a big arch), and getting in a slight rotational twist as you catch the ball, and then throw it back. After 10 to 15 reps, switch sides.
21. Wheelbarrow Push-Up With Squat
Partner A begins in a high plank position, with arms straight, shoulders above wrists, and core tight. Partner B stands at A's feet. B carefully lifts A's ankles one at a time, so that A is in a "wheelbarrow" position (like the races you did in grade school). From here, A lowers into a push-up, keeping back straight, core tight, and legs straight. As A lowers, B (still holding A's ankles), sends hips back, bends knees, and lowers into a squat. B should keep back straight, core tight, and knees in line with ankles. As A pushes up to return to start position, B stands. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, then switch roles.
22. Push-Up With Shoulder Tap
Face your partner and come into a high plank position. In unison, you'll each perform a push-up, dropping chest to the ground while keeping core tight and legs straight. Push back up and at the top of your push-up position, lift right hand and tap your partner's left shoulder (so you'll be tapping the shoulder of the non-lifted hand, straight across from you). Repeat, alternating the shoulder that you tap after each push-up. Perform 8 to 12 reps.
Make it easier: Perform the push-up on your knees.
23. Reach-and-Touch Plank
Consider this your go-to partner move. Partners will hold a high plank, head-to-head with about one foot between them throughout. From high plank, both partners lift right hand and reach toward the opposite shoulder on their partner. Replace right hand, and as quickly as possible, repeat on the left side. Repeat as quickly as possible for 8 to 12 reps, or 30 seconds.
24. Bodyweight Squat
Stand facing your partner at arm’s length, feet slightly wider than hip width, grasping each other's forearms. Maintaining a secure grip, lower into a squat by sending hips back, bending both knees equally, and keeping core tight. Hold for a moment, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.
25. Side Plank With Rotation and Clap
Each partner begins in a side plank, back-to-back. Partner A supports weight on right hand, feet stacked (with right foot on the bottom), core tight, and hips lifted. Partner A raises left hand straight up so arms form a "T." Partner B begins in the same position, except on the left side, supporting weight on left hand, feet stacked (left foot on the bottom), and right hand extended straight up. From here, partners tap hands together above them. Next, bring hands down across front of body, rotating slightly (without dropping hips) to tap hands together underneath torsos. Return to straight position by re-straightening hips and tapping hands together overhead. Repeat 8 to 12 times, then switch sides.
26. Squat Hold With High Knees
In this move, one person holds a squat while the other performs high knees. Partner A lowers into a squat and extends both arms straight out parallel to the floor. Partner B performs high knees, attempting to get each knee to the height of the partner's outstretched arms. Perform high knees by running in place, drawing knees up toward the chest as quickly as possible, keeping abs tight and back straight. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch roles.
27. Jump Squats With Clap
Stand side-bye-side with your partner about one foot apart facing opposite directions. Come into a low squat at the same time. From the bottom of your squat, simultaneously push off and jump up, bringing arms overhead and clapping your inside hands together at the height of your jump. Land lightly and immediately drop down into a squat again. Repeat 8 to 12 times, then switch sides.
28. Partner Pistol Squat
Trust is a pre-req for this advanced move. You'll perform a pistol squat, holding onto your partner for added support. Stand facing your partner about one foot apart. Hold each other's forearms so that your arms are slightly bent and parallel to each other. Each partner lifts right foot off the ground and holds leg straight out from right hip. Slowly send hips back and lower into a squat by bending the left knee, keeping abs tight and back straight. Allow the right leg to naturally rise up, and hold each other's forearms for added support. Lower as deep as possible without compromising your form. Pause for a moment at the bottom of your squat, then slowly stand back up.
Note: You should not bend so low so that you are totally relying on your partner for support. They're there to help you balance, but not hold you up.
29. Plank Hold and Jump
Partner A holds a forearm plank throughout this move. Begin in a forearm plank with shoulders directly above elbows, hands parallel (or clasped to make it easier). Keep core tight, back straight, and hips level. Feet can be a few inches apart. B will stand at A's feet and, using both feet, jump laterally over A's ankles (to the right). Land lightly on toes and immediately jump back (to the left) as quickly as possible. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch roles.
Make it easier: Rather than jumping over your partner, take a hop over your partner with the left foot and allow the right foot to follow. To go back the other way, take a hop with the right foot and allow the left foot to follow.
Make it harder: Partner A can make this move harder by moving between a forearm plank and a high plank throughout the 30 seconds. To do this, push up from right forearm to right hand, then left forearm to left hand. Next, lower onto right forearm, then left forearm. Repeat keeping core tight and the lower half of the body as still as possible throughout.
Special thanks to the Greatist team for making this shoot happen. In the resistance band moves, Locke Hughes wears a Lululemon top and Under Armour pants. Nick Eckhart wears a Ten Thousand top and Lululemon shorts. In the medicine ball moves, Nick wears a Lululemon shirt and Fabletics shorts. Simon Hau wears a Manduka top and Ten Thousand shorts. In the bodyweight moves, Amanda Delaney wears Fabletics pants and her own Lululemon top. Locke wears her own Old Navy pants and a Lululemon top.
Originally published May 2012. Updated February 2016.