Science Says Working Out With a Friend Is *Actually* Better for You—Here’s Why

In the age of "if you didn't Instagram your workout, did it really count?" fitness can feel like an all-or-nothing proposition—but it shouldn't. Together with Michelob ULTRA—the next-level light beer that wants to take the stress out of staying fit—we're exploring ways to be active that you'll actually enjoy. Because being healthy doesn't require fitness to be your whole life, just one (fun) part of it. 

These days, flying solo with your fitness routine couldn't be easier. Want to take a cycling class? You don’t have to leave your living room. Feel like a HIIT workout? Press play on your phone. It’s just you, your sweaty self, and some pre-recorded encouragement wafting through your headphones.

But there's something about those post-workout high-fives that make a solid sweat feel that much more satisfying, and nothing compares to the collective high you ride when you finish a circuit of kettlebell moves together (or the shared agony you feel when you’re both faced with another round of burpees).

As it turns out, multiple studies show that folks are more likely to stay committed and enthusiastic about their workouts if they’re sweating with a buddy. Kids are a perfect example—this 2011 study showed that children engaged in a higher level of activity if they had the motivation of playing with their best friend. And to show it sticks with us as we get older, this study found that group exercise reduced stress levels by 26 percent (um, yes please) compared to working out alone.

So if TV gossip and the promise of a cold beer at the end of your workout is what makes fitness fun for you, who’s to say you can’t have it all? That’s why we teamed up with Michelob ULTRA—the light beer that's all about finding the joy in wellness—to celebrate the fusion between fitness and, you know, real life.

Studies show that folks are more likely to stay enthusiastic about their workouts if they're sweating with a buddy.

To get a professional opinion on the benefits of working out with a friend, we tapped two New York City personal trainers who also happen to be best buds. Trainers Rachel Sneeden (ACE-certified) and Brian McCollum (NASM) both have jam-packed schedules—on top of teaching at studios like Orangetheory and SWERVE Fitness, they both train private clients as well. According to the duo, what motivates them to squeeze in their own workouts is—you guessed it—each other.

“The accountability factor is everything,” Sneeden says. “Let's face it, sometimes the hardest part is literally just commuting to the gym and starting a workout. If you schedule your workout with a friend, whether that's a date at the gym or a class together, you're way more likely to go.”

working out with a friend
Photo: Michelob ULTRA

And McCollum agrees. “Working out with a friend and fellow trainer like Rachel helps me have fun with what might have been a boring workout," he says. "Forming healthy habits is about finding a way to enjoy them." And honestly, who couldn't benefit from a little friendly competition?

Sneeden and McCollum, who are always posting their workouts on Instagram, shared a few fun moves for you and a pal to try together. After all, friends who sweat together get stronger together—it’s science.

Scroll down for some moves to try out the next time you're working out with a friend.

High Five Planks

Both partners start in a high plank (hands beneath shoulders and feet just a little bit wider than hip-width apart). While facing each other, reach out and high five your partner's hand opposite to yours. Focus on bracing your core and having little to no rotation of your hips. Try holding for 45 second intervals.

Banded Heel Taps

Partner A will lie flat on their back with their feet off of the ground and knees bent at a 90-degree angle, while partner B stands behind partner A's head. Partner B takes a resistance band and wraps one end around partner A's feet while holding the remaining tension on the band in their hands. Partner A will then tap the ground with their heels and return back to the starting position while keeping their knees bent at a 90-degree angle the entire time. Repeat for 45 seconds, then switch.

Lateral Med Ball Throws

Pick a medicine ball you both feel comfortable tossing, then have both partners stand facing the same direction about five to six feet away from each other. Partner A tosses the ball sideways to partner B, then partner B tosses back. You’ll rotate through your core and work your obliques like crazy on this one. After 45 seconds, switch spots to work the other side of the body.

Cardio Burst

Try this for a cardio finisher: Partner A completes 20 bodyweight squats while partner B does jumping jacks until partner A finishes. Switch, completing three rounds each. After this, you won't only be friends who sweat together—you'll also be sore (and even stronger!) together.

Sponsored by Michelob ULTRA

Top photo: Stocksy/Flamingo Images

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