We've heard it before: Some things are better together. Research shows that a workout buddy can help you work out more often - and the more encouraging they are, the better. Rackow P, et al. (2016). Received social support and exercising: An intervention study to test the enabling hypothesis. DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12139
Here are 29 creative exercises that prove teamwork can make your workouts a lot more fun. Special thanks to the Greatist team for making this shoot happen.
1. Partner heel tapShare on Pinterest
Partner A lies faceup, with Partner B standing at A's head. Partner A brings feet into tabletop position (shins parallel to the floor). Partner B holds both ends of the resistance band. Partner B carefully loops the band around Partner A's feet.
Throughout the movement, Partner B stands with core tight, knees slightly bent, and arms holding the ends of the band. Once in position, Partner A contracts core, slowly lowers both heels toward the floor, taps heels, and then returns to tabletop position.
Make sure the band is securely looped at the center of Partner A's feet, so it won't snap back and hit either partner.
Make it easier: Loop the band around one foot instead of both. Keep both feet in tabletop position and lower and raise only the one foot with the resistance band.
2. Squat jump
You'll need two resistance bands for this exercise.
Stand facing each other, 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 squat by sending hips back, bending knees, keeping core tight, and lowering.
In unison, jump up, maintaining band tension and arm position. Land lightly on toes and immediately lower again.
3. Triceps kickbackShare on Pinterest
Stand facing each other with knees slightly bent, hips back, and core engaged, each partner holding one end of a resistance band on the same side (right hand for one partner, left hand for the other).
Hinge slightly toward each other from the waist. Both partners bend elbows 90 degrees and hug elbow and biceps to their sides.
Extend the arm holding the band, using triceps to push the band away from your partner, keeping elbow hugged into side throughout the movement. Slowly re-bend arm and return to the 90-degree angle and repeat.
4. Partner press and row
You'll need two resistance bands for this move.
Partner A stands a few feet in front of Partner B, facing the same direction, so Partner B is looking at Partner A's back.
Partner B holds one end of each resistance band in each hand while Partner A holds the other ends. Partner A steps forward until there is light tension in the bands. With staggered feet for additional stability, Partner A performs a chest press.
Complete the chest press by raising arms to your sides, 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.
At the same time, Partner B completes a row by pulling the bands up, flexing elbows, and squeezing shoulder blades together.
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). Do 8-12 reps, then switch roles.
5. Resistance band chest pressShare on Pinterest
Partner A holds both ends of a resistance band, with the loop hanging loosely behind their body. Partner B acts as the anchor, holding the loop and stepping back until there is tension.
Partner A raises both hands to sides of body, keeping elbows bent at 90 degrees, so elbows, biceps, and forearms are parallel to the floor. For balance, they can step right foot forward into a slight lunge.
With core tight and a micro bend in right knee, Partner A pushes forward, fully extending both arms, then slowly bends at elbows to return to starting position. Do 8-12 reps, then switch roles.
6. Lunge and full-body rotation
Stand side by side with each person holding one end of a 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). Sink into a lunge with both knees bent about 90 degrees, core tight, and back straight.
At the bottom of the lunge, keep holding the band and rotate away from each other. Make sure abs are tight and twist only your upper body (no pressure on your low back). Rotate back to center and push back up to starting position. Do 8-12 reps before switching sides.
7. Band jumpShare on Pinterest
Start with Partner A standing in front of Partner B, facing away. Loop the resistance band around Partner A's waist, with Partner B holding one end in each hand. Partner A steps forward until there's light tension in the band.
Partner B stands with knees slightly bent and hips slightly back for stability. Partner A jumps forward as far as possible.
Jump by bending knees, sending hips back, keeping core tight, and exploding up and forward. Swing arms naturally for added momentum. Land lightly on toes, then take a few steps back to return to starting position. Repeat quickly for 8-12 reps, then switch roles.
8. Trunk rotation
You'll need two resistance bands for this move.
Stand facing each other, and each loop a resistance band around the other's waist, holding the ends.
With good posture and core braced, rotate torso to the right while your partner does the same, so you're rotating in opposite directions.
Repeat, rotating this time to the left (so you still rotate in opposite directions.) Move slowly in both directions. Repeat for 12-15 reps, then rotate in the other direction.
9. External rotationShare on Pinterest
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. In unison, both rotate outside arms outward, keeping elbow bent and glued to your side throughout.
10. Band sprint
Partner A loops a resistance band around Partner B's waist and holds both ends. For stability, Partner A braces core, bends knees slightly, and sends hips back.
Partner B sprints forward until the resistance band is taut and performs 30 seconds of high knees or sprinting in place. Partner B jogs backward to the starting position. Partners then switch roles.
11. Squat with rotational passShare on Pinterest
Stand back to back and drop into a low squat so thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position throughout the exercise.
Partner A holds the medicine ball at their chest. Rotating from the upper torso, Partner A hands the ball to Partner B on the left side. Partner B rotates right to take the ball and then quickly passes it on the left, so Partner A can accept the ball again at their right side.
Repeat for 8-12 reps in one direction, then change directions.
12. Lunge to chest pass
Partners stand facing each other, at least 5 feet apart. Partner A holds medicine ball at chest and steps forward into a lunge, bending front and back legs 90 degrees and keeping core tight and back straight.
Partner B also steps forward into a lunge so partners are closer together. Partner A chest-passes the medicine ball to Partner B by pushing it out from the center of their chest (similar to the chest press movement mentioned above with the resistance band).
Partner B catches the ball at chest level before stepping back to return to the starting position as Partner A does the same. Repeat for 8-12 reps, then switch sides on the lunge.
13. High-low twist and passShare on Pinterest
Partners stand back to back. Partner A holds the medicine ball overhead on a right diagonal, then passes it over their right shoulder. Partner B takes the ball and draws it down and across their body, as knees bend into a squat.
Partner B passes the ball back to Partner A down low by their left shin, where Partner A grabs it and draws it up and across their body to the upper-right diagonal. The “orbit” of the ball should be an oval. Repeat for 10-15 reps, then switch directions.
14. Russian twist pass
Start sitting back to back, a few inches apart. Both partners raise their legs into a tabletop position (bent at 90 degrees) 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 (as in No. 11) hands the ball to Partner B on the left side, while Partner B reaches for the ball on the right side. Partner B then twists to the left side, completing the circle by handing the ball back to Partner A.
Keep abs tight throughout the movement and be sure to twist only from the upper back (avoid pressure on the low back). Pass the ball as quickly as possible without throwing it.
Make it easier: Allow heels to rest on the floor (rather than keeping feet in tabletop position) for additional stability.
15. Lateral lunge with throwShare on Pinterest
Stand facing each other, about 3 feet apart. Each partner takes 1 step to their left so you are staggered.
Holding medicine ball at chest, Partner A takes a wide step to the right, sending hips back and keeping abs tight. Lower into a lateral lunge and bring the medicine ball down to right side on a slight diagonal. Left leg should be straight.
Simultaneously, Partner B takes a wide step to the right (away from Partner A) and also comes into a low lateral lunge (without the medicine ball).
In one smooth movement, both partners push off their right foot, and as they return to the starting position, Partner A throws the medicine ball laterally to Partner B.
Partner B catches the ball and immediately steps out with 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. Do 8-12 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. Partner A holds a medicine ball overhead. Partner B reaches up and grabs the ball overhead, and then both partners drop into a low squat.
Partner B rolls the ball between their feet for Partner A to pick up and start again. Do 8-12 reps, then switch roles, so Partner A is rolling the ball between their feet.
17. Sit-up passShare on Pinterest
Both partners lie faceup, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, with ankles overlapping. Partner A holds the ball with arms extended overhead. Partner A contracts abs and sits up to face Partner B, bringing arms and medicine ball up.
At the same time, Partner B performs a sit-up without the ball. Partner A hands the ball to Partner B. As both partners lower, Partner B holds the ball and lightly taps it on the floor behind head before sitting up and passing the ball back to Partner A.
18. Partner floor slams
Partners stand facing each other, a few feet apart. Partner A begins by holding a medicine ball overhead and throwing it to the floor, so it bounces once before reaching Partner B.
With core engaged, Partner B catches the ball and raises it overhead before throwing it back to the floor to pass it back to Partner A. Do 10-15 reps each.
19. Forward-backward lunge with passShare on Pinterest
In this move, one of you will lunge forward while the other lunges backward.
Partners stand facing each other, about 1 foot apart, with Partner A holding the medicine ball at chest. Partner A steps forward with right foot as Partner B steps backward with left foot.
Both sink into a lunge by bending front and back knees 90 degrees, keeping knees over ankles, back straight, and core tight. At the bottom of the lunge, Partner A passes the ball to Partner B before both push off and return to the starting position.
Partner B takes a step forward with left foot as Partner A steps backward with right foot. Both sink into a lunge.
At the bottom of the lunge, Partner B passes the ball to Partner A. Both push off to return to the starting position. Do 8-12 reps, then switch sides.
20. Side pass
Partners 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 their hip (with the ball's momentum) before tossing it laterally back to Partner A.
Repeat, focusing on throwing the ball sideways (not up in a big arc) and getting in a slight rotational twist as you catch the ball and throw it back. After 10-15 reps, switch sides.
21. Wheelbarrow push-up with squatShare on Pinterest
Partner A starts in a high plank position, with arms straight, shoulders above wrists, and core tight. Partner B stands at Partner A's feet. Partner B carefully lifts Partner A's ankles one at a time, so Partner A is in a “wheelbarrow” position (like in the races you did in grade school).
Partner A lowers into a push-up, keeping back straight, core tight, and legs straight. As Partner A lowers, Partner B (still holding Partner A's ankles) sends hips back, bends knees, and lowers into a squat.
Partner B should keep back straight, core tight, and knees in line with ankles. As Partner A pushes up to return to the starting position, Partner B stands. Do 8-12 reps, then switch roles.
22. Push-up with shoulder tap
Start in high plank position, facing each other. Both perform a push-up, dropping chest to the floor while keeping core tight and legs straight.
Push back up. At the top of your push-up position, lift right hand and tap your partner's left shoulder (you'll be tapping the shoulder of their non-lifted hand, straight across from you). Repeat, alternating the shoulder that you tap after each push-up. Perform 8-12 reps.
Make it easier: Perform the push-up on your knees.
23. Reach-and-touch plankShare on Pinterest
Consider this your go-to partner move. Partners start in a high plank, facing each other, about 1 foot apart. Both partners lift right hand and reach toward the other partner's opposite shoulder.
Replace right hand and, as quickly as possible, repeat on left side.
Repeat as quickly as possible for 8-12 reps or 30 seconds.
24. Bodyweight squat
Partners stand facing each other at arm's length, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, 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. Do 10-12 reps.
25. Side plank with rotation and clapShare on Pinterest
Start in side plank position, back to back.
Partner A supports their weight on right hand, with feet stacked (right foot on the bottom), core tight, and hips lifted. Partner A raises left hand straight up so arms form a T.
Partner B is in the same position, except on the left side, supporting their weight on left hand, with feet stacked (left foot on the bottom) and right hand extended straight up. Partners tap hands together above them.
Partners bring hands down across front of body, rotating slightly (without dropping hips) to tap hands together underneath torsos. Return to the starting position by leveling hips and tapping hands together overhead. Do 8-12 reps, 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 Partner A's outstretched arms.
Perform high knees by running in place, drawing knees up toward chest as quickly as possible, keeping abs tight and back straight. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch roles.
27. Jump squat with clapShare on Pinterest
Stand side by side, about 1 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 8-12 times, then switch sides.
28. Partner pistol squat
Trust is a prereq for this advanced move. You'll perform a pistol squat, holding onto your partner for added support.
Partners stand facing each other, about 1 foot apart, holding each other's forearms so arms are slightly bent and parallel to each other.
Each partner lifts right foot off the floor and holds leg straight out from right hip. Slowly send hips back and lower into a squat. Bend left knee, keeping abs tight and back straight. Allow right leg to naturally rise up and hold each other's forearms for added support.
Lower as deep as possible without compromising 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're totally relying on your partner for support. They're there to help you balance, not hold you up.
29. Plank hold and jumpShare on Pinterest
Partner A holds a forearm plank throughout this move, with shoulders directly above elbows, hands parallel (or clasped to make it easier), core tight, back straight, and hips level. Feet can be a few inches apart.
Partner B stands at Partner A's feet and, using both feet, jumps laterally over Partner 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 Partner A, Partner B can hop over with left foot and allow right foot to follow. To go back the other way, hop with right foot and allow 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. Push up from right forearm to right hand, then left forearm to left hand. Lower onto right forearm, then left forearm. Repeat, keeping core tight and lower half of body as still as possible throughout.