We hear it all of the time: There’s strength in numbers. But that’s not only the case when it comes to supporting a cause you love. If you’re the kind of person who typically works out solo, it’s time to consider the benefits of grabbing a partner or a team to tackle the training with you. Working out with other people (even just with one other person) offers full-body perks. Here's what you can expect when you make a commitment to do something hard with others.
The Benefits of Teams for Performance and Well-Being
Aside from feel-good vibes, research shows that working out with others produces a motivation gain that can help you push harder for longer. For example, those who planked with a partner were able to hold the exercise for up to 24% more time than those doing it alone, according to a study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology.
“When we have a support system that elevates us, we can experience tremendous gains,” Lara Pence, clinical psychologist and Chief Mind Doctor for Spartan, says. “Often, when we are training, we can encounter those self-limiting beliefs and thoughts, like ‘why am I doing this?’
"If we have a tribe around us, they can lift us up, elevate us, and provide real-time feedback about our capacity to keep going.”
But it doesn’t end there: A team can also hold you accountable to showing up time and time again. In 2016, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that team competition encourages a higher participation rate than individual effort. In an 11-week study of nearly 800 people, those motivated by competitive classes exercised 90% more than those sweating it out alone.
How to Maximize the Benefits of Teams in Training and Racing
What's the catch with team competition? Comparison can quickly become your enemy. You'll get the most out of a group experience by remembering that you’re on your own path, Pence says.
“Your journey is unique, so measuring your progress against others is a slippery slope," she says. "Be supportive of those around you instead of evaluating your own worth and process compared to theirs.”
Whether you lean into local club sports or run clubs to prep for your next Spartan race — or even sign up for some boutique fitness classes — how you get your team-based fitness on is up to you. The only rule? Real sweat-drenched camaraderie is going to require a willingness to work hard.