Working out alone can get tedious—that’s one of the reasons why it’s always recommended to train with a partner. But companionship does not guarantee a better workout. Take a look around the gym and you’ll see groups of lifters sitting and chatting around a bench or squat rack without doing much actual lifting.
But you’re an athlete! You’re hyper-competitive on the field but can’t seem to bring that intensity to the weight room. Why? Well, there’s not much incentive other than personal gains, and it’s not much fun as your sport—at least to some people anyway.
That’s why you should add a competitive component to your workouts. It will give you that extra boost you need to push your hardest when you’re gassed, because, let’s be honest, no one wants to come in second. And, it will build camaraderie.
Try one or two of the following competitive workouts each week to add excitement to your training and push your body to achieve new gains.
Tony Bonvechio: If you get a couple of strong guys together and you know you’re going to work up to some type of rep max, then the numbers are going to skyrocket, because you’re building intensity.
- Pick a primary lift, like a Squat or Bench Press variation.
- Along with a partner, max out at five, three or one reps.
- Track your progress compared to the previous max.
Note: Do this only once per week and regularly vary the exercise and number of reps to prevent overtraining.
Rob DeCillis: This drill is super competitive because you’re racing to see who can get down the field the fastest.
- Line up on the goal line holding a 45-pound plate, facing the field. Have your partner(s) do the same.
- Push the plate for 10 yards, then do 10 Push-Ups.
- Repeat this sequence down the length of the field as quickly as possible.
Timed Strongman Circuit
Bonvechio: I like something that mimics World’s Strongest Man Competitions, but for time. You put a stopwatch on someone and they’re going to push as hard as they can.
Measure the time it takes to complete the circuit.
- Sled Push (high handles) x 30 yards
- Tire Flip x 30 yards
- Farmer’s Walks x 30 yards
- Sled Push (low handles) x 30 yards
Stan Dutton: No one wants to do one exercise for too long. You’re cheering on your partner to finish, which creates a fun, team atmosphere.
Perform the exercise with no prescribed reps until your partner is finished with his reps, and then switch exercises.
- Kettlebell Swings x 20
- Lateral Crawls
- Repeat for 3-5 minutes
- Farmer’s Walks x 40 yards
- Repeat for 3-5 minutes
Squat and Sprint
DeCillis: You do this drill while your partner rests, so there’s built-in recovery. You’re also cheering on your partner to finish fast, which builds camaraderie.
- At the bottom on a hill, perform 10 Squats holding a sandbag.
- Sprint for 10 yards up the hill.
- Jog down the hill and tag your partner, who begins the drill.
- Alternate for 10 sets.
Put a Wager On It
Rick Scarpulla: We keep our workouts fun and entertaining by sometimes adding a little wager. Don’t get excited, we don’t bet money. But whatever it is, you never want to lose a bet, so you’ll go extra hard. If someone is slacking, you and your team have to work to pick them up.
How to: Form two teams of four, pick an exercise and choose three weight increments for the exercise. It should be a sub-max weight that every participant can perform for multiple reps—let’s say 185, 205 and 225 pounds. Each team member performs the exercise for 30 seconds at the lightest weight and keeps track of his reps. Repeat for the next two weight increments. When finished, add up the total reps for the team. The team with the most reps wins. We bet on a number of items, but here are a few examples:
- 500 Sit-Ups
- Cleaning the gym for a week
- Put away all weights for a week