partner exercises

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Partner exercises: Get in shape together

In today's fast paced world, people struggle to find time to work, enjoy time with their loved ones and take care of their health. As an exercise physiologist, the most common excuse I hear for not exercising is a lack of time. So, I often recommend training with a partner or friend because it can help you achieve your health goals while enjoying time together. Manual Resistance (MR) training is an alternative to the more conventional forms of strength training programs where the resistance is provided by a partner, rather than equipment. The best part is there is minimal equipment needed (towel and chair) and these exercises can be done anytime, anyplace.

Getting started

  1. Do 10-15 repetitions of each exercise or time each exercise for approximately 80-120 seconds.
  2. Complete one to three sets of each exercise
  3. The speed of the exercise is controlled by the resistance applied by the spotter and should take the exerciser about three to four seconds to complete the raising phase of the exercise. More resistance should be applied on the first rep and decrease with each additional rep.
  4. The exerciser will resist the pressure from the spotter and should take  approximately four seconds on the lowering phase.
  5. Perform full body MR strength exercises two to three days a week while alternating days

Push-up (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)

Push-up aPush-up b

  • Exerciser:
    • Start in the pushup position (on toes-advanced or knees-less advanced).
    • Lower the chest one inch from touching the floor and push up to starting position.
  • Spotter:
    • Stand next to the exerciser and apply resistance with both hands on upper back.

Note: the exercise alone may be enough resistance for some.


 Lat Rows (Lats)

Lat rows aLat rows b

  • Exerciser:
    • Start with legs in a stagger position with knees slightly bent.
    • Grip the ends of the towel with hands about shoulder-width apart.
    • Pull the towel to chest and squeeze shoulder blades together.
    • Fight the resistance as you move back to the starting position.
  • Spotter:
    • Start with legs in a stagger position with knees slightly bent.
    • Pull in the middle of towel. This will give resistance throughout the full range of motion.

Note: The spotter and exerciser are both getting the benefits of this exercise.


Upright Row (Deltoids, Trapezius, Biceps)

Upright rows aUpright rows b

  • Exerciser:
    • Start with arms fully extended down.
    • Grip the center of the towel with hand about one inch apart.
    • Head looks forward with feet shoulder width apart.
    • Keep elbows high, as you pull towel upward until it reaches just below chin level.
    • Stay slow and controlled as you move down to the starting position.
  • Spotter:
    • Kneel in front of the exerciser with hands grasping the ends of the towel.
    • Provide resistance as the exerciser moves through the motions.

Biceps Curl (Biceps)

Bicep curls aBicep curls b

  • Exerciser:
    • Start in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Fully extended arms downward with palms face up grabbing both ends of the towel.
    • Back of upper body may be placed against a wall to avoid a swinging motion.
    • Glue your elbows to your sides as you raise palms forward and upward towards your chest.
    • Contract the biceps through the motion and slowly lower resistance as you move back to starting position.
  • Spotter:
    • Kneel facing the exerciser.
    • Grip and apply resistance to the middle of the towel as the exerciser moves through the motions.

Overhead Triceps Extension (Triceps)

Overhead triceps aOverhead triceps b

  • Exerciser:
    • Start with elbows bent next to your head.
    • Grip one end of the towel with your hands behind and below your head.
    • Extend wrists up, until arms are fully straight above shoulders. Avoid moving your shoulders or elbows through this motion.
    • Control arms down back to the starting position.
  • Spotter:
    • Kneel behind the exerciser.
    • Grip and apply resistance to the middle of the towel as the exerciser moves through the motions.

Leg Curl (Hamstrings)

Leg curl aLeg curl b

  • Exerciser:
    • Lay face down with legs straight and toes pointed.
    • Keep thighs against the ground bending at the knee as you bring heel as close to buttocks as possible.
    • Fight the resistance back to the starting position.
    • Switch legs after set.
  • Spotter:
    • Kneel on the side of the leg that is being exercised.
    • Apply resistance to the back of the exerciser’s ankle through a full range of motion.
    • Place opposite hand on exercisers back for leverage.

Leg Extension (Quadriceps)

Leg extension aLeg extension b

  • Exerciser:
    • Sit far back on a chair so your feet do not touch the ground.
    • From the knee, extend one leg up as high as you can.
    • Slowly lower leg back to starting position.
    • Switch legs after set.
  • Spotter:
    • Kneel alongside the leg that’s being exercised.
    • Apply resistance to ankle through the full range of motion.

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