35 Kick-Ass Partner Exercises

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Illustrations by Shannon Orcutt    

Double the pleasure, double the fun? Wrigley’s may have been onto something: Studies show working out with a buddy can add more than just a healthy dose of QT. Hitting the gym with a friend, coworker, or special someone can increase accountability, keep spirits high, and even spur better results. (Oh, and did we mention it can rev the libido, too? [1]). Here are 35 ways to get fit fast — without having to fly solo.

Resistance Tubing

1. Partner Press and Row: Get twice the adventure on this (virtual) two-man boat ride. Stand one in front of the other, connected by two fairly taut resistance tubes. As the partner in front steps forward and presses the handlebars forward (in a traditional chest press movement), the partner in back will simultaneously pull the handlebars back while squeezing the shoulder blades together (completing a basic row). Bang out 8-12 reps, switch spots, and repeat.

2. Squat Jump: You’ll never have to jump alone. With both partners holding one end of a resistance tube or band, stand facing each other, far enough apart to create some tension in the band. Next, lower down into a squat position, and (synchronization is key here!) jump up as high as you can. Land in a stable squat position — more challenging than you’d think with another person adding resistance to your band — and repeat for 10-12 reps.

(Also Check Out: 50 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere)

3. Partner Leg Press: No need for machines here! Lie with your back on the floor with knees bent and feet off the floor, and have your partner kneel down behind you. They’ll be responsible for placing the tubing under your feet and holding the handles (or ends) in place just above your shoulders. Next, slowly extend the legs and pull them back in to the chest. (Just be sure the tube remains steady on the soles — a slingshot to the face does not a happy workout make!). Repeat for 12-15 reps and switch.

4. Lunge and Full-Body Rotation: Ready for the real pièce de résistance? Each grab an end of the resistance tube, and stand beside each other, far enough so there’s some tension between you. In perfect sync (just like your last karaoke duet) lunge forward with the outside leg while simultaneously rotating away from one another. Press back up and back, completing a total of 8-12 reps before switching up sides.

5. Mid-Row with Tubing: Ready to really connect? With two tubes intertwined, stand facing each other far enough apart that the tubing is taut. Next, like two peas in a pod, lower in a squat position with the core engaged and back flat. Maintaining the squat (and the burn!) bring the elbows straight back with the palms facing in, and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Return to start position, counting it out with your partner until you reach your desired goal.

6. Chest Flys with Tubing: Fly high together (without having to pack bags). Start by holding a tubing handle in each hand with the slack hanging behind you. Have your copilot grab hold of the center of the tube and pull it taut behind you (steady does it — no human slingshots here!). Next, position you arms out to your sides with the elbows pointed down to the ground and the bottom of the handles rotated slightly in (toward the body). In a controlled motion, press forward until the bottom of the handles touch straight in front of you. Return to start position and repeat for 10-12 reps, then reverse roles.

7. Tricep Kickbacks: Give those tris the attention they deserve. Face off in front of your partner with the right foot in front of the left, holding one end of a resistance band in your right hand. (Your partner will mirror you with the left foot front and the band in the left hand.) While contracting the abs, bend forward at the hips with the knees slightly bent, and slowly straighten the arm to pull back the band (be sure to stay in sync for maximum resistance!). Return to start, kickback another 11-14 reps, and switch arms.

8. External Rotation: To strengthen the rotator cuffs, stand side-by-side with your partner, facing the same direction. Both grab hold of one handle of one tube with the outside arm, and have the outside elbow, bent at 90 degrees, anchored at the waist. Keeping the upper arm at your side, slowly rotate your forearm away from the body. About 8–12 reps should do wonders for each arm (of course, if anything feels uncomfortable, there’s no need to push through).

9. Trunk Rotation: Get wrapped up in each other. For this exercise, each partner wraps a band around the back of their waist, with their partner holding the handles. Back away from one another until you feel the resistance and, maintaining good posture and a tightened core, rotate your torso one way, while your buddy rotates the opposite direction. Twist and shout to the other direction and repeat for 12-15 reps.

10. Band Sprints: Cardio doesn’t have to mean hitting the treadmills in tandem. For a heart-pumping, high-intensity workout, take turns running sprints with some added resistance. Have the sprinter take the track (or some other open space) with the resistance band across their waist, and their partner holding the ends tightly behind them. Designate a finish line (about 10-20 meters away), and sprint hard all the way through, pumping the arms and driving the knees up high. Switch roles for an extra break, or have one partner rest and power through a few consecutive sets before switching.

Medicine Ball

11. Lunge to Chest Pass: A dynamic move for a dynamic duo. Grab a medicine ball and face your partner, standing about 3-5 feet apart. Keeping the chest up, lunge forward, completing the movement with a crisp (and accurate!) chest pass to your partner. They’ll then catch it and head straight into their lunge-and-pass. Repeat for 10-12 reps each, or until Butterfingers tests your patience.

12. Single-Leg Chest Pass: Stand on one leg, about 4-6 feet from your partner. Keeping the core tight and the body stable, pass the rock back and forth using a basketball chest pass. Continue for 30-60 seconds. Switch legs. Be one move closer to J. Lin status.

13. Overhead Pass with Squat: Time to get up close and personal. Stand back-to-back with one partner holding a medicine ball overhead. The other will then reach up and grab it (klutzes take care!), followed by both buddies coming down into a low squat position. The partner with the ball will then roll it back between their legs for the other one to pick it up and start again. Continue for 10-12 reps, then switch!

14. Partner Floor Slams: This is one throw down you don’t want to miss. Badass #1 starts with a medicine ball overhead and slam it down to the ground so it bounces once before reaching Badass #2. With the core fully engaged (the power of the pass should come from the core as well), keep sending the ball back and forth for 10-15 reps each.

15. Partner Side Swing Pass: In a swing state of mind? Stand side-by-side, about five feet apart, in an athletic stance with the abdominals contracted. Keeping the arms straight, have partner #1 swing the ball from the outside of the body to the inside (pivoting the outside leg as you pivot), then toss the ball to partner #2. Repeat until you get the swing of things, and switch positions.

16. Partner Shuffle Drill: Bring it back to basketball camp. Facing your partner a few feet away, stand in a ready position with the knees slightly bent and core engaged. At “Go” shuffle for about 20 feet in one direction, while simultaneously tossing the medicine ball back and forth. Head back in the opposite direction to give both sides some love.

17. Sit-Ups Pass: Work the middle, times two. Start seated on the floor next to your partner, facing opposite directions, with knees bent. Holding the medicine ball to your chest, both recline to the floor, come back up, and pass the ball to your partner. Repeat for 10-15 reps, or until the core feels good and fired up.

18. V-Sit with Rotation and Pass: This one’s double trouble, for sure. Sitting on the floor about 1-2 feet away from your partner, with knees bent, hold the medicine ball to your chest with abs nice n’ tight. Next, both recline back a few inches and rotate one way and then the other (maintaining that rock hard core!). Return to starting position, and throw the ball to your partner. They’ll catch it and repeat the movement. Repeat for reps or time (90 seconds is no joke).

19. Kneeling Partner Twist: Partners in crime can hit the abs and obliques with this simple twofer move. Kneel back-to-back, and slowly twist to one side until you can hand off the ball to your partner. Then twist to the other side in order to retrieve the ball again (oh, hey there!). Continue for 60-90 seconds in one direction, then switch.

20. Hi-Low Twist: Start standing back-to-back, holding the medicine ball firmly in two hands. Twist toward your partner and raise the ball up high so you hand it off to them over your shoulder. They’ll grab it and do the same move, but meeting you down low on the other side. (Did we just become best friends? YUP!) Continue for 60-plus seconds in one direction — until you feel the heat in those arms, shoulders, and core — then switch directions.

BOSU Ball

21. V-Sit with Foot Press: Still searching for your soul mate? Grab two BOSU balls and take a seat facing each other in a V-position with legs bent, back semi-reclined, and feet pressed against your partners’. Next, start marching those feet in place (without losing contact with your partners’ soles). Beginners, hold the sides of the BOSU with your hands, or get more advanced and go hands-free.

22. King of the BOSU: Strength and balance can win it all in this high-stakes game. With one partner standing in a ready position on the ball, the challenger will test their stability by tossing the medicine ball at them from every imaginable direction. Touch down or fumble the ball, and that’s one point for your partner (Watch the Throne!). Play for two minutes, then switch.

23. Six-Pack BOSU: This one’s for the core. Start seated in a semi-reclined position on the BOSU ball with heels touching the floor. With your partner in the same position facing you (but seated on solid ground), they’ll toss a medicine ball your way for you to catch and throw back. The real catch: Lift a foot or touch down a hand, and your partner earns a point. Go strong for 90 seconds, then switch.

24. Partner Mirror Image: Who’s the fairest of them all? Whoever’s left standing on the BOSU Ball! For this exercise, each hop on your own BOSU ball facing one another, and take turns mimicking each other. Hint: One-legged squats are surefire way to knock off even the toughest competition.

25. Partner Criss-Cross Reaction: Imagine the BOSU’s a clock and stand at 12 o’clock with your partner at 3 o’clock. Facing sideways in an athletic stance with the BOSU on your right, shuffle your way across the BOSU, taking two quick steps at its peak. Go once across, back and forth, or five times fast — your call! When your round is done, clap your hand together to signal it’s your partner’s turn to go.

26. Sit-Squat Hand-Off: Face off on two BOSU balls, arms’ distance apart, in a squatting position with feet and knees together. Next, hand off a small weighted ball (or any small ball) back and forth until you start to feel the burn. Not challenging enough? Both hold onto the ball with arms fully extended, and try to pull it away from your partner. Winner takes all.

Bodyweight Alone

27. Push-Up with Shoulder Tap: Ready to tap into this? Hit the mats, facing your partner in a modified push-up position (or full push-up position if you get down like that). Next, lower your bodies by bending at the arms with the abdominals engaged. Push back up to the starting position, then lift your right hand, and tap your partner on the left shoulder (while your partner does the same thing). Complete 10-12 reps, alternating hands each time.  

28. Wheelbarrow Push-Ups: Bring it back to the days of the backyard wheelbarrow race (but waaay more advanced). Start in a traditional push-up position with your accomplice holding your feet in their hands. Bracing the core, head down for as many push-ups as possible while maintaining good form. With each down motion, add in a synchronized squat on your partner’s end to really double up.

29. Bodyweight Squat: Remember the days of the Middle School dance? Stand facing your partner at arm’s length, with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, grasping each other’s forearms. Maintaining a secure grip, squat down in sync (bonus points if “Bye, Bye, Bye” is blaring) until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Hold, then slowly return to starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps, maintaining good form.

30. Dynamic Lunge: Get low, get low — times two! For this move, stand facing your partner at arm’s length, clasping each other’s hands between you. Next, lunge forward with your right leg as your partner lunges backward with their left leg (coordination here is key!). Reverse the motion, lunging backward with the right leg as your partner lunges forward with the left. Complete 10-12 reps, switch legs, and repeat.

31. Split Lunge: Legs still not fired up? Start this lunge variation facing your partner at arm’s length, grasping their forearms. Staggering your feet with the left foot behind the right, slowly bend down into a lunge position so the right thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold for a beat, then slowly return to starting position. Polish off 10-12 reps and switch legs.

32. Reach-and-Touch Plank: True teamwork looks like a little something like this. Lying on your stomach facing your partner, position the elbows under the shoulders with the palms flat on the floor and the toes tucked under. Next, using the muscles in your core, (in perfect harmony) elevate the torso into a plank position and reach forward with the right hand to touch your partner’s right hand. Follow swiftly with the left, then lower your bodies back down to the floor. Complete 11-14 more reps (chest bumps can follow).

33. Partner Plank and Single-Leg Hip Raise: This one’s bound to work the entire body — and the crowd. Have Partner #1 assume the plank position as (here’s where things get tricky) Partner #2 gets into a single-leg bridge with the “planted leg” resting on the planker’s back and the free leg bent. With both buddies holding steady, Partner #2 will slowly lower their rear to the floor, and press back up (finishing in a straight line, head to toe). Bang out 10-15 reps, then switch roles.

34. High-Five Up Down: Before this all-star duo calls it quits, be sure to show some love. Start in a plank position head-to-head about one foot apart. At “Go,” lower onto the left forearm then the right then back up to your left hand then right hand (your partner will do the reverse). Finishing the move with a high-five across to your partner (your right hand to their left hand). Reverse the series of moves, starting with your right forearm hitting the mat, and finishing with a high-five with the other hand. Run through 8-10 reps, or until you’re all planked out.

35. Yoga Tree with Unfixed Support: You’ve been through it all, now it’s time to stand tall together. Side-by-side, arms’ distance apart, reach out to your partner with your inside hand and press palms together. Next, bend the outside leg and plant the foot to the inner thigh — or calf for the flexibility-challenged folks. Complete the tree pose by extending the outside arm straight out and flexing the wrist up so the fingers point to the sky. Hold for 20-30 seconds, elongating the spine — and basking in your joint awesomeness.

Before wrapping up (or carrying each other home), remember the duo that stretches together stays together. The best way to finish strong? Run through a few good partner stretches (just be sure not to stretch your partner too far). Foam rolling and proper refueling are also wise ways to wind down. And last but not least, set a date for your next tandem session — no one wants to be left hanging!

What did we forget? Tell us your favorite partner exercises in the comments below!

About the Author
Jordan Shakeshaft
Whether it’s soccer, basketball, or figure skating, I’ve always turned to sports to satisfy my need for fun, fitness, and a healthy dose of...

Works Cited

  1. The roles of testosterone and alpha-amylase in exercise-induced sexual arousal in women. Hamilton, LD., Fogle, EA., Meston, CM. University of Texas at Austin-Psychology, Austin, TX. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2008 April; 5(4): 845-53.

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