Partner Workouts: The What, Why and How
From Coach Nicole:
You have likely noticed more partner workouts showing up in our weekly programming. Particularly, we have been including partner workouts on Saturdays. Unlike individual workouts, though, the purpose behind these WODs and the best ways to approach them may not always be clear. In order to ensure that you have the best experience possible, let’s review the what, the why and the how of the partner workout!
In a partner workout, two athletes work together to complete a set amount of work. Partners first discuss and decide upon a plan for the division of work and pacing. At Petworth Fitness, we generally program these workouts on Saturdays and at times during the week, but if you drop into another gym, you may come upon a partner workout at anytime.
Partner workouts are beneficial for several reasons. The first, and most important reason, is that they are fun and add variety and joy to our programming! Though the group setting provides camaraderie in and of itself, partner workouts take it to an entirely new level. When you are doing a partner workout, you, at the very least, have a built-in support system, and at the best, gain a new friend! We all say it all time: the best thing about Petworth Fitness is our amazing member base. Even more special is the fact that we truly are a neighborhood gym. Partner workouts give us the opportunity to strengthen and solidify this amazing community, to get to know each other, to cheer each other on, and to meet a neighbor.
The second reason we incorporate partner workouts is because the idea of being accountable to another person can help drive us just that little bit more. Let’s face it: on Saturday mornings, after a long week, we can all use a little push. Partner workouts help with that!
Finally, partner workouts help us learn about ourselves. They help us take notice of our strengths and weaknesses. They let us know where we have room to grow and where we are excelling. For example, the other day, I did the Saturday FastFit workout and realized just how much I needed to work on pushing hard on the air bike when my partner was consistently accumulating ten calories on the bike fifteen to twenty seconds faster than me.
You and your partner should talk before the countdown and decide on your strategy for each part of the workout. There are several things to consider!
First, think about the rules and movements of the workout. Are you required to divide the work in a certain way, or do you have a choice? Are you counting reps of each movement or is there a set time for each partner to move? Decide on a strategy that will allow you to maximize your strengths to move quickly and efficiently through the workout.
Next, and most importantly, think about division of labor. If I am faster at burpees than my partner, but my partner can row more quickly than me, we should divide the work in a way that includes me doing more burpees and her doing more rowing. That way, we are both getting a great workout, but we are using each other’s strengths to work faster and do better than we would independently. The work and effort balances out in the end if you employ this strategy! Contrary to popular belief, not all work in a partner WOD needs to be divided evenly, and, in fact, often should not be. Unless two partners are perfectly matched in ability, an even split means one partner will end up working harder than the other. Work smarter, not harder!
One of the interesting and enlightening things about partner workouts is that you can really see where you may have a bit more left in the tank than you thought you would, or that you may have really underestimated that one movement and may need a break earlier than you had intended. You and your partner should make sure you are in communication throughout. Be ready to strategize, communicate, and re-plan in the moment.
The Bottom Line:
Partner workouts are fun, great for community building and, teach us a lot about ourselves as athletes. Be honest with yourself and your partner about your abilities, and we promise it will end up being a great workout for both of you. Enjoy the experience, the camaraderie, the support, and the motivation, and have fun with these workouts!