There are some things that are just better together than they are apart. Think: peanut butter and chocolate, or the boys from One Direction. (Sorry, Harry.) Working out with a partner is definitely another contender for that list.
First off, working out with a buddy—whether that's a fitness-minded friend or an instructor—can reduce your risk of injury. A partner can spot you, talk you through form and technique, and teach you how to use equipment. Plus, working out with a partner can help increase motivation and consistency, key to hitting your fitness goals. And isn't it more fun (or at least bearable) to clock long miles or nail a new PR with a friend?
The other perk? "You're always going to get a more effective workout if you have someone [professional] doing them with you," says Erica Ziel, a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor. Having a pro show you how to do certain moves, recommend modifications, and help you with tricky equipment ensures that you're getting the most out of that workout without hurting yourself or working the wrong muscles.
Sure, it's not always possible to work out with someone. And some exercises work really nicely as solo ventures (see: yoga, walking). But there are some exercises that can be unpleasant (or downright dangerous) to do by yourself. Keep reading for more, and next, be sure to check out these 15 Exercise Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Workout.
Your camp counselor always wanted you to swim with a buddy for a reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are almost 4,000 fatal accidental drownings every year. One of the key ways to prevent drowning, says the CDC? Never swim alone, no matter where you're swimming or how good you are. Instead, try another low-impact modality, like walking or yoga. If you're in the market for more workout tips, don't forget to read Want to Get Lean After 40? Do These Exercises.
Heavy weight lifting
"If you're heavy lifting free weights or using the bar rack, you need a spotter," says Ziel. Specifically, a spotter who knows what they're doing. Otherwise, you're risking injury and even death, especially if you're bench pressing super heavy barbells. If you don't have a gym buddy and still want to strength train, opt for body weight or lighter hand weights instead. For more intel on lifting, check out New Study Reveals the Side Effect of Lifting Weights Just 2 Times Per Week.
Pilates machines workouts
While Ziel is a big fan of at-home Pilates mat workouts, she's not super into the idea of people using Pilates machines without any supervision. "Unless you're a really experienced Pilates student… someone can really hurt themselves on a Reformer if they don't have the education or the experience," she says. Save the solo workout for the mats and make sure your time on the machines is supervised by a trained Pilates pro.
Box jumps are a staple of many HIIT and Crossfit workouts. But done unsupervised, you can risk tripping and falling (or worse) trying to make that jump. And without proper form, you could tear ligaments or blow out your knees. Save this for the gym or your next group class (where you can get guidance from an instructor) and stick to step ups or other exercises instead. If you're into HIIT, don't miss This Exercise Melts Fat Faster Than Any Other, Says Science.