"Watch me, and don't let me cheat," I say to a fellow trainer to get him to spot me at the gym.
I need a close eye on my form, especially when it comes to performing core exercises. I like using other trainers because they can see things in my form that I can't. Sometimes my back starts to fatigue or my butt gets lazy by giving the load to other muscles. None of that is good and I know a trainer will call me on it.
Workout buddies are great. They motivate and keep you from hurting yourself.
They are also good to compete with. If your workout partner is close to your fitness level, then pushing each other becomes a fun contest.
Sometimes your partner is in far better shape than you are. If that's the case, try to learn from her experience. She can steer you away from pitfalls and show you the exercises that work best. She may even have discovered a way of breaking plateaus and would be willing to share with you.
Another way to learn from experienced gym users is to find out what they eat. Recipe swapping isn't only for cooking circles. The superfit will have a few tasty recipes to help them eat healthy without sacrificing flavor.
If your workout partner is new to the gym, and you are the veteran, show him the ropes and help him make fitness a way of life. Far too often, people abandon their goals because of some rinky-dink reason. Good gym buddies don't let that happen.
For today's column, I have picked some two-person exercises that focus on the core. The core is composed of 29 muscles. The ones you can see are just below the surface. To keep you standing and able to perform the most basic of moves, all 29 muscles must be working.
Here's a quick core review. For core exercises to be effective they need to have three parts: activation, stabilization, progression.
The core needs to be activated. If you were to brace yourself to take a punch in the stomach by making your abs tight, that is activation.
Stabilization refers to holding, or stabilizing, your core through a movement. The longer you can hold your core tight, the stronger it will be.
Progression in exercise is needed to force your core to adapt. The core learns fast and needs to be challenged.
Leg raises are an oldie but a goodie. In high school I used to do leg raises and they always hurt my back. I just thought that was the way they worked. Then I became a trainer and realized that pain is not supposed to be a normal sensation during exercise. I know, it makes perfect sense. Come to find out, I was doing them wrong. My core wasn't properly engaged and that's why my back hurt. Now I can do all the leg raises I want without my back hurting. Yay!
The medicine ball toss is a good stabilization exercise. It requires your core to assist with balance as well as to stabilize during a movement. You're supposed to toss a medicine ball back and forth while balancing on your tush. If you want to be really rotten, you can toss the ball a little short or a little high to make your partner really struggle during the exercise. Be ready for her to be rotten back.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician.