By Ryan Unverzagt
I will admit that sometimes exercise can be boring, but working out with a friend is always better. As in years past, since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I would like to share a few “Sweetheart” exercises designed to keep you and your significant other from falling out of love with working out.
Medicine Ball (MB) Sit-Ups: This exercise is done with both people on the floor. Sit facing each other with your knees bent about 45 degrees. Then interlock your feet behind each others lower leg. There are many variations to this exercise, but start in the upright or top position of the sit-up. You can hold a medicine ball at chest level. Both you and your partner lower yourselves to the mat until the upper back touches, and then perform a sit-up toward your partner. Hand the MB off to your partner at the top of the sit-up. Keep exchanging the MB until you have completed at least 15 reps.
Partner Leg Pushdowns: If you want to turn up the intensity in your workout, try this ab exercise. Lie on your back with your legs straight, hips bent to 90 degrees, and the bottoms of your feet toward the ceiling. Your partner will stand with his or her feet at your shoulders and beside your head. First, grab your partner by the ankles so you have some leverage when performing this exercise. Next, have your partner push your feet or lower legs away from them and towards the floor. Your job is to tighten up the abs and hip flexors to resist the pushing forces and keep the back of your heels from touching the floor. You also want to keep the legs straight and bring your feet back toward your partner during each repetition. Try at least 10 reps without rest. This exercise is performed very quickly to maximize its effectiveness. DO NOT try this exercise if you have any back, spine, or hip problems.
Towel Tug-O-War: This exercise also has many variations, but try this one by sitting on the floor facing your partner. Put the soles of your feet together with knees slightly bent. You will need a long bath or beach towel. Grab one end of the towel with both hands just like you would if it was a rope. (Avoid wrapping the towel around your hands.) Have your partner do the same with the other end of the towel and have him or her provide resistance as you pull the towel toward yourself. Your partner should provide enough resistance so that you can still pull without leaning back. Keep your back straight by sitting tall with good posture. Focus on engaging the muscles in your mid- and upper back by squeezing your shoulder blades together and not just pulling with your arms. Finish the rep by having your partner pull the towel toward them while you provide the resistance. This exercise is great for improving back, arm, and grip strength. Try at least 15 reps in good form.
The three exercises mentioned above require minimal equipment and set-up time. So go ahead and grab your partner and fall in love with working out this February.
About the Author: Unverzagt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wellness Management from Black Hills State University. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.