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Buddy Up: The Partner Workout

  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    The Buddy Workout

    Catching up with your BFF is fun. Kicking each other's patootie? Even better!

    That's the beauty of our buddy routine: You'll not only spend time together, but you'll also work out way harder than if you were going through the motions solo. "You push yourself more than you would on your own. You can't flake," notes Barry Jay, a cofounder of Barry's Bootcamp, home to one of the most body-morphing workouts around, and a big fan of partner pair-ups. But don't expect to be dishing about last night's date: Jay and fellow Barry's Bootcamp trainer Astrid McGuire created a fun but fierce head-to-toe routine that delivers fast results. You'll shed fat and sculpt firm muscles while moving back and forth nonstop between strength exercises and cardio bursts.

    What you'll need: a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell and a medicine ball (use the weight instead of the ball in a pinch). Warm up for five minutes on a treadmill at an easy pace, jog in place, do low step-ups, or jog around the block. Then do one set of each of the following moves in any order, changing it up every time. Rest only as necessary, and after every third move do a cardio interval (see "Cardio Blasts," slide 11). If time allows and you're feeling supermotivated, add in a few more rounds of strength moves and cardio bursts. Follow the plan consistently four days a week while keeping an eye on your calories, and you and your chum will be admiring each other's sleek physiques in just three weeks.

    Watch the Workout Video

  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth


    Targets shoulders, core, and legs

    • Stand 1 foot apart, facing away from each other, feet wider than shoulder-width apart; partner A holds a dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands.
    • Squat so you're butt to butt; then A leans forward and passes weight between legs to B.
    • You both stand up; B passes weight back to A overhead to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 20 reps, then switch directions (B passes weight to A between legs, and A passes weight to B overhead).
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Side-Plank Pass

    Targets shoulders, obliques, and core

    • Lie on right side 2 feet apart, parallel to each other and facing the same direction, with partner B in front and holding a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in left hand.
    • Lift hips so you're balancing on right forearm and on the side of right foot, feet stacked. Extend left arm straight up in line with shoulder, palm facing forward.
    • B lifts hips slightly and passes dumbbell underneath torso to A, who takes dumbbell in left hand and then extends arm back up again (staying in side plank). Partner A passes dumbbell back to B as B reaches under her body.
    • Do 20 reps, then flip to left side so A is in front. Repeat, with A passing dumbbell back to B. (Only the partner in front passes weight under raised hips.)
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth


    Targets core, butt, and legs

    • Stand facing each other, 2 to 3 feet apart, with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and hands in fists next to chin.
    • Partner A squats low while partner B brings right foot in toward left, then kicks right leg up and over A, finishing with feet wide.
    • B squats low while A kicks one leg over B.
    • Do 50 kicks total, switching legs every time or halfway through.
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Triceps Pass

    Targets triceps and abs

    • Partner A holds a medicine ball in both hands overhead. Partner B lies on the floor with head near A's feet and grasps A's ankles.
    • Partner A lowers ball behind head, keeping elbows close to ears.
    • Partner B lifts legs toward ceiling as A straightens arms and then leans forward, placing ball between B's feet (make sure ball is secure before letting go).
    • B lowers legs toward floor (don't allow lower back to arch off floor), then brings them up to A again to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 20 reps, then switch positions and repeat.
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Wheelbarrow Push-Up with a Dead Lift

    Targets arms, chest, back, core, and legs

    • Partner A gets in plank position on hands and toes; partner B stands behind A and holds an ankle in each hand.
    • Partner B bends over from hips, keeping arms straight, as A bends elbows and lowers chest toward floor.
    • As A straightens arms, B stands up, keeping knees and back straight.
    • Do 20 reps, then switch positions and repeat.
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Rotational Twist

    Targets obliques and abs

    • Stand back to back with feet shoulder-width apart. Partner A holds medicine ball in both hands in front of abs.
    • Partner A turns to right and passes ball to partner B as B turns to left; B then rotates to right and A to left, passing ball again.
    • Continue for 30 seconds, then switch directions and repeat, with A turning to left first.
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Med Ball Waltz

    Targets shoulders, chest, and legs

    • Stand facing each other; partner A holds a medicine ball in both hands in front of chest. Partner A lunges forward with right leg, passing ball to partner B as B lunges back with left leg, bringing ball toward chest.
    • B immediately lunges forward again with left foot, passing ball to A as A lunges back with right leg.
    • Do 20 passes, then switch legs (A lunges forward with left leg and B lunges back with right to start).
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Double Jump

    Targets shoulders, core, butt, and legs

    • Partner A gets in plank position on forearms and toes, body straight from head to heels. Partner B stands behind A, feet wide and arms bent in front of chest, and lowers into a squat.
    • Partner A jumps feet wide apart as B jumps feet together (imagine hopping between your partner's feet), landing in a squat. B then jumps feet wide and squats again as A hops feet together to complete 1 rep.
    • Do 20 reps, then switch positions and repeat.
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Squat and Dip

    Targets shoulders, triceps, butt, and legs

    • Partner A holds a medicine ball in both hands and stands 1 foot from a wall with feet shoulder-width apart. A leans back and slides down wall into a squat until thighs are parallel to floor and knees are aligned over ankles. Partner A then raises ball overhead and holds it there, arms straight and both shoulders against wall.
    • Partner B stands 12 to 18 inches in front of A's feet, facing away, then squats and rests palms on A's knees, fingers facing forward.
    • B bends elbows and lowers into a dip, then presses up and repeats.
    • B does 20 dips while A maintains squat. Switch positions and repeat.
  • James Michelfelder and Therese Sommerseth

    Cardio Blasts

    No Barry's Bootcamp workout is complete without a little time on the treadmill. Most classes alternate between strength work and sprints or hill climbs; while one group is hefting weights or moaning through push-ups, the other is furiously punching buttons on the console to speed up, slow down, or adjust the incline. Insert one of these cardio bursts every three moves and watch the flab melt off.

    Challenge 1: Sprints

    Run or walk fast for 30 to 45 seconds, then recover for the same amount of time. Choose an intensity that's challenging. You have to do only three of these sprint intervals, so make them count.

    No treadmill? No problem! Walk or run outside or jump rope for 3 to 4 1/2 minutes, hopping faster and then slower. Jumping jacks also work.

    Challenge 2: Hill climb

    Walk or run at a 1.0 incline (choose a moderate-intensity speed) and increase the incline every 30 seconds. Repeat for 3 minutes (you should be close to your workout max), then reduce the incline every 30 seconds.

    No treadmill? No problem! Repeat Challenge 1 or, holding a 5-pound dumbbell, do step-ups on a bench for 6 minutes, increasing the weight or the height each minute.

    Challenge 3: One-mile time trial

    Run or walk (or do a combo) as fast as you can for one mile. Take note of how long it takes so you can try to beat it the next time.

    No treadmill? No problem! Do it outdoors or jump rope for 8 to 10 minutes, counting revolutions per minute.

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2013.