Couples who train together stay together! In Part 2 of our couple workouts series, we explore four exercises that can get you moving with your partner whether you are both beginners or workout veterans.
TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB
PHOTOS: MEDIACORP STUDIO 3
Last month, Fitness Workz trainers Azmirah Azman and Aidid Haidil shared how couple workouts can help keep you aligned towards a common goal and facilitate your common fitness goals over the long term, regardless of your level of fitness.
Whether it’s in the gym or at the fitness corner, exercising as a couple carries a multitude of benefits, from improving the consistency of your overall fitness journey to reinforcing the bonds and confidence levels shared by both individuals.
As you each become fitter and more knowledgeable, these couple workouts get increasingly productive as you discover ways to play to each other’s strengths and improve on weaknesses.
In this story, we explore how you and your companion can add greater depth to conventional exercises, activating key muscle groups in novel ways, and keeping your training plan fresh and exciting through a series of four partner exercises.
PLACING A TWIST ON THE HUMBLE SIT-UP
Muscle groups targeted and benefits: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques.
Sit-ups are a staple in any athlete’s repertoire of exercises. Done correctly, it helps stimulate your core abdominal muscles to build strength and develop that highly sought-after muscle tone (don’t forget to pair with a fat burning diet so that 6-pack can really shine!).
In addition to building core strength, sit-ups are a great way to build athletic performance, improve posture, and enhance balance and stability.
- Basic: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet anchored. Tuck your chin into your chest to lengthen the back of your neck. Cup your ears or cross your arms with your hands on opposite shoulders.
- Exhale as you lift your upper body up toward your thighs. Inhale as you slowly lower yourself back down to the floor.
- Intermediate: Try back-to-back sit-ups, introducing a twist as you lift your upper body, clapping your partner’s hand on alternating sides with every rep.
- Advanced: To crank up the intensity, pass a medicine ball between yourselves. This can add some serious additional resistance so you really feel the burn!
MIXING IT UP WITH CRUNCHES
Muscle groups targeted and benefits: Forearm muscles, wrist flexors, lats, upper back (Monkey bar Crunches), and Abdominal muscles, obliques, hip flexors (Crunches).
Monkey bar crunches are a core muscle exercise with a greater range of movement than sit-ups. They help build forearm and upper body strength for that quintessential athlete’s V-shaped physique. This exercise helps to build greater core strength while improving balance and flexibility.
Working with a partner is key to gradually ramping up the intensity. A partner can assist you by gently holding your legs to support the movements as your arms and abdominal muscles acclimatise to your body weight and the range of movement.
- Start monkey bar crunches by hanging on a pull-up bar. As you inhale, engage your core muscles.
- Lift knees across your body to your left until thighs are perpendicular to chest. Lower your legs, then repeat the movement on the right.
- You and your partner can also perform crunches in tandem. Sit on the floor facing to one side and lean back at 45 degrees. Raise and hold both feet slightly above the ground.
- Raise your knees towards your chest and lower on the opposite side. Level up by slowing your crunches or trying to gradually weave your legs higher and higher over your partner’s. Or, have a friendly competition to see who can perform more reps.
SIDESTEPPING FOR AGILITY USING LATERAL SHUFFLE THROWS
Muscle groups targeted and benefits: Glutes, quads, inner and outer thigh, shoulder muscles, triceps and latissimus dorsi.
Lateral movements are key to building agility. They improve your ability to make swift movements in a controlled manner, maintaining balance in every movement.
The lateral shuffle throw activates smaller muscle groups outside the usual dominant muscle groups. It helps engage muscles holistically, evening out muscular imbalances and stabilising your hips. This is also a really fun way of keeping workouts fresh and stimulating.
Remember to engage your core throughout the exercise and keep your chest lifted. This will help you maintain proper form. Focus on making the full range of movement while ensuring the correct muscle groups are engaged at every stage of the exercise.
- Basic: Stand with your feet a hip’s width apart. Sink into a deep knee bend. Bring both hands in front of the chest in a guard position holding the ball.
- Move your right foot to the right and follow through with your left foot. Shuffle four times to the right. Throw the ball to your partner then move left. Repeat the same moves, moving to the left this time.
- Intermediate: Turn this into a game by speeding up or adding unpredictability into the exercise. This helps you to train both mind and body while having heaps of fun.
- Advanced: Try performing the entire exercise with squats ranging from mid-to-low height. Challenge your partner to see just how low you both can go!
BUILD THOSE PECS WITH PARTNER PLANKS
Muscle group target and benefits: Pectoral muscles (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps, abdominals, serratus anterior (wings).
Planks are a mainstay in many home workouts. The plank pose is an exercise in mindfulness – engaging many of the major muscle groups of the body in a single pose and challenging your mind to endure the burn of the fixed position for as long as you can possibly go. Be sure to keep your body in a straight line, keeping your abdominal muscles tight throughout the exercise.
Planking with a partner encourages you to push harder. You can also check that each is maintaining proper form to get the most out of the exercise. Who better to push you to greater heights than a highly-competitive workout buddy?
- Basic: Begin in a kneeling position. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and pitch forward so your hands, forearms and elbows are on the floor. Extend your legs behind you with toes tucked under to press into the plank.
- Intermediate: Start in a standard plank position. Fully extend one arm at a time so you are in a push-up plank position.
- Tap your partner’s hand while in a push up position. Revert to a standard plank position and repeat.
- Advanced: For a true challenge, try performing an overlap plank with your partner –one person planks directly on top of their partner who’s already in a plank position. Then, perform a push up at the same time.