The Truth About Having a Swole Mate

There was a study done three years ago at Oxford University which demonstrated that working out in a group causes a greater release of endorphins than working out solo, even when the same amount of work is performed.(1) This was a unique experiment done through their Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology. Simply put, working out in a group caused an endorphin release. While the Oxford study makes the case for group exercise leading to improved mood and performance, we also know this to be true for working out with just one other person, especially if it’s your Swolemate.

Building on the original Oxford theory, a study done and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says something similar; instead of talking about performance enhancement, it examined motivation – specifically, the “Köhler Motivation Gain Effect.” The Köhler effect is a phenomenon that occurs when less capable individuals perform better while performing a task with others than when performing a task individually.(3) As we know, you can’t be perfect at everything. Perhaps your partner is stronger, but you’re the Cardio Queen (or King). Conversely, maybe you nail the deadlift, and Hubby runs marathons for a living. Whatever it is, you WILL get better as a function of doing something you’re not great at, with someone else! The science says that whether it’s improved mood, or performance, having at least one other person in the gym is going to make you better.

I don’t need science to back me up though. Just look at life in general: Do you try to lift heavier, run faster, push out more when your gym crush/eye candy is in the room? Ok, you might not, but we’ve all seen that person in the gym, clearly trying to impress someone else, right? But back to you; do you not to make yourself better in the gym not JUST for life in the boardroom, but also to look good naked in the bedroom? Whatever your own personal reasons or motivations, it can’t be argued that trying a little bit harder to impress someone pushes us to do better in the gym.

And lastly, because in case “looking good naked’ wasn’t a good enough argument, one more study corroborates the theory that training with someone you love is better than going solo. According to research, “Married (couples who trained together) had significantly higher attendance (54% vs. 40%) and lower dropout (5% vs. 43%) than Married (people who trained solo) which appeared to be primarily influenced by spousal support rather than by self motivation.” You are with that person because of how supportive they are in all your endeavours, right? Well, that proves true in the gym as well!

So grab your partner, and get to the gym! You can’t lose (unless it’s fat …).

1. Davis A, Taylor J, Cohen E. Social bonds and exercise: evidence for a reciprocal relationship. PLoS One. 2015 Aug 28;10(8):e0136705.
2. Hertel G, Kerr NL, Messé LA. Motivation gains in performance groups: Paradigmatic and theoretical developments on the Köhler effect. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Oct;79(4):580-601.