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Pair Up and Slim Down: The Couple Workout

Quit the cuddling and spend some QT time at the gym instead. "Research shows that 94 percent of couples stick with their fitness programs when they work out together," says Jari Love, certified personal trainer and fitness DVD star. Here, some moves to try together.

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Cheyenne Ellis
Denise Crew
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Karen Pearson
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Bicycle Crunch
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How It Works

By motivating each other to get up and go, you'll not only shake up your usual weeknight couch-wine-reality TV routine, you'll be learning moves together and sharing a new experience. The following partner exercises take two people to do, using each other as resistance and also support. Talk about a relationship builder!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Hook Squats

Targets glutes
Sara Haley, international fitness expert and Reebok global master trainer loves Hook Squats because they require constant willpower from each partner. If one of you stops the motion, the exercise can't be completed. "It's a great way to motivate and support each other," says Haley.

  • Stand back to back with your partner and get into proper squat position with knees over ankles.
  • Squat down together and slowly walk clockwise while still squatting in a circle.
  • Once circle has been completed, count to 20 and walk in a circle counterclockwise.
  • Do 3 sets.

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Alternating Box Jump

Targets hamstrings and quads
This low-impact plyometric move effectively strengthens yours legs while challenging your stamina, says Tiffany Boucher, personal trainer at Equinox, Greenwich. Though this move can be done solo, pairing up for the rapid hip flexion motion ensures you're both maintaining proper form. Any stable surface works -- just make sure to pick a height you're both comfortable with.

  • Face each other and place a 6- to 10-inch box between you.
  • Take turns jumping on and off the box in a squat position, making sure to land lightly with each jump. After landing back on the ground, your partner completes the same move.
  • If needed, lightly join hands with outstretched arms for balance.
  • Each partner jumps 15 to 20 times for 2 to 3 sets.
  • Make it harder: Add 3- to 5-pound dumbbells to each hand during jumps.

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Biceps and Triceps Challenge

Targets shoulders, biceps, and triceps
Two-person resistance training is much more effective than doing a series of traditional curls on your own. Rather than relying on weights to provide resistance, take turns with your partner using a towel. Try this move from Love:

  • Stand facing your partner, approximately a foot apart.
  • Keeping knees slightly bent, grasp towel in the middle with palms facing upright while your partner holds the ends of the towel.
  • Complete a biceps curl as your partner creates resistance, being sure to keep his core tight and shoulders relaxed, not hunched toward ears.
  • Your partner completes a triceps extension while you create resistance on your way down from your biceps curl.
  • Do 15 to 20 reps for 2 to 3 sets.

  • Try it solo: Using a resistance band, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding band in both hands so that it's taut when arms are straight out to sides at shoulder level. Keeping arms at shoulder level throughout, bend left elbow to bring left hand in front of chest, palm facing in; extend left arm to return to start. Do 12 reps. Switch arms and repeat. Do 3 sets.

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Partner Push-Up

Targets shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps
As with a traditional push-up, your own body weight will work as resistance, but in this case your partner can create more opposition by placing weight on your upper back. Too tough? Use a modified knee push-up instead, recommends Love.

  • Start by lying with your stomach on the floor, elbows bent at 90 degrees and palms on the floor in a lowered push-up position.
  • Have your partner stand over you and place hands on your upper back.
  • As you rise up into your push-up, your partner creates slight resistance, being sure to keep his core tight at the same time.
  • Complete reps until you feel fatigued, then switch.

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Push-Up High Five

Targets shoulders, chest, biceps, and triceps
Want to see your +1 grunt through a set of push-ups with you? Use this exercise to work both of you at the same time:

  • Face your partner arms length apart. Get in push-up position, hands directly under your shoulders, legs extended, abs engaged.
  • Do a push-up, bending elbows 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position and give each other a high five, extending arm straight out, rather than up.
  • Complete reps until fatigued.

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Seated Medicine Ball Twist

Targets arms and abs
This exercise will target your obliques to help you both build a stronger core and back. To avoid lower back pain, start off with a lighter medicine ball and build your way up.

  • Facing each other, sit tall on a mat with your feet touching the floor and a slight bend in the knee. Keep heels firmly planted on the ground.
  • Lean back slightly and balance on your tailbone, without rounding your shoulders or back. Hold this position and keep core engaged.
  • Pick up a medicine ball and move it right to left, keeping your body still as your arms move back and forth. Your partner should mirror your movements with his hands.
  • After a set of 10 twists, toss the ball to your partner, who then rotates the ball right to left for 10 twists before passing it back.
  • Repeat this sequence for 3 sets of 10.

  • Try it solo: Using a resistance band, Sit on floor with legs extended and together, center of band wrapped around soles of feet, holding one end of band in each hand. Bend knees slightly, keeping heels on floor, and clasp hands to bring both ends of band together. With abs engaged and back flat, lean back 45 degrees and extend arms in front of you at eye level. Keeping lower body still and band taut, slowly rotate torso to right as you bend elbows slightly and lower hands beside right hip. Rotate back to center with arms extended, then rotate to left to complete one rep. Do 3 sets of 10.

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Swimming Stretch

Targets abs, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back
You don't have to make your partner suffer through an entire yoga class if it's not his cup of tea. Instead, try this stretch from Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates NYC and author of Pilates Practice Companion for an exercise to increase stamina and flexibility.

  • Lie on stomach, facing your partner head-to-head with outstretched arms. Your arms should be able to slightly overlap.
  • Place hands atop your partner's and lift your head, chest, arms, and legs to begin.
  • Anchor your chest into the floor and slowly paddle arms and legs in a swimming motion, using your partner's rhythm and pressure to resist yours.
  • Keep shoulders away from your ears, continue to paddle for 5 long breaths, reaching and lengthening with each paddle.
  • Lower gently and switch hand placement to complete one full set. Do 3 sets.

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Crisscross Crunches

Targets abs
An easier move to do in between more difficult reps, these crunches will give you incentive not to fall behind. Set a number and see if you can match your partner's pace to complete it.

  • Sit on ground in crunch position, back flat on the floor, knees bent, abs engaged. Hands should be behind your head or crossed in front of your chest.
  • Hook legs with partner, with your legs locked in between theirs. Crunch up, keeping abs engaged and hands not pulling on your neck or head if they are behind you.
  • Complete 10 reps for 3 sets, or until fatigued

  • Make it harder with bicycle crunches: Lie next to your partner, face up with right arm extended out to side, palm on ground, and left hand behind head. Lift left leg 6 inches off ground and bend right knee 90 degrees so shin is parallel to ground. Bring left shoulder toward right knee. Keeping left leg elevated and right knee bent, lower torso. Do 10 crunches. Lower legs. Switch sides; repeat.

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Superman Wrestle

Targets lower back, butt, and hamstrings
Knock all your trouble zones out with this exercise that'll cinch belly fat, sculpt your legs, and strengthen your lower back all in one shot.

  • Lie facedown on ground, facing your partner so that your arms are extended with palms completely touching.
  • With palms still touching, lift chest and feet off ground a few inches, squeezing glutes and keeping head up, looking at partner.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and gently lower. Do 3 sets.

  • Do it solo: Lie facedown on ground with arms by sides, raising them a few inches off ground so that palms are facing forward, thumbs pointing up. Lift chest and feet off ground a few inches, squeezing glutes. In lifted position, use arms to form letters, holding each pose for 3 counts: First bring arms out from hips at 45-degree angle (to form an M); then move out to sides at shoulder level (to form a T); then bend elbows about 90 degrees (to form a W); lastly extend arms diagonally overhead (to form a Y). Reverse movement (forming Y, W, T, M), then lower chest and legs. Do 3 sets of 6 reps.

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, February 2011.

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