Exercise is a team sport done better if you and your significant other are both on the same page. Here’s how to make sure you’re both in harmony when there’s two training personalities under one roof.

While you’re both health conscious there are so many different fitness philosophies that can pilot your relationship toward the rocks. Perfectly natural factors like personality, genetic makeup, upbringing, physique and age influence what type of diet and exercise program we choose. When you’re fitting into your training niche it can be tough to synchronize your approach with that of your partner, so how can you avoid conflict? Here’s the science on what to do and what to avoid.


Make your goals known

Don’t just explain your goals, especially if they are a moving target, go a step further and describe what actions you will be taking to achieve them. Perhaps your grocery list (and bill!) will be changing, or the amount of time you will spend training, or describe what the supplements dominating the cupboards are for. It will avoid frustration down the road if you are open and honest about the changes. The way couples respond to each other’s news is important for making a strong bond, found a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. So, keep that in mind next time your partner is excited to tell you about their new PR. Being happy and supportive for them will go a long way.

Break common ground

A marathon runner and a bodybuilder may not appear to have common ground, yet it’s their dedication that binds them together. Find communion in meals because simply eating dinner together could make your relationship more positive and stronger, found a paper in the European Journal of Social Psychology. There is something special about sharing your calories with someone else.

Try new things

If you find yourself in a fitness plateau, trying something new can be just what your body craves. So try your partner’s workout for a change because research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows engaging in new and exciting activities enhances relationships. Not to mention the new stimulus you’ll be placing on your muscles. You can both win by strengthening your bond and, of course, your bodies.

Keep an open mind

You’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason: you need to listen. While your significant other’s fitness philosophy might not be a good fit for you, it still has validity. If you both want to reach your goals, supporting each other is a prerequisite even if end games are different. It’ll benefit you directly because listening and supporting each other will increase physical health and lower rates of depression for both partners, found a paper in Current Opinion in Psychology and Aging and Mental Health.

Build each other up

This requires active participation by encouraging and pushing each other to become better. Sometimes your partner will believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Verbal encouragement increases athletic performance (duh!), says a paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. If that’s what training partners can do for each other, imagine how powerful it will be coming from your significant other. You know your companion better than anyone so keep them going when they want to give up. Pushing someone outside their comfort zone can be a bumpy road to navigate, but it’s worth it in the end.


Act superior

Your workout is different – never better. A holier-than-thou attitude will only create hurt feelings or unhealthy competition. Being self-reflective about how you influence others is a good life lesson. Often times fit people are misunderstood as being self-righteous or judgmental against those that are less fit than them. Break that bad stereotype.

Never lecture

Preaching to your partner will only create distance. If you need to say something choose a good time to tease it out, while using a caring tone of voice, and listening to their response. No one wants to watch a loved one get hurt, so you might be coming from a good place when you point out that they are potentially doing something wrong. For example, if your loved one is falling forward on a squat, try doing the exercise with them while explaining the correction. This is a well-known trick trainers use to create a more secure and comfortable environment.

Go rogue

Don’t suddenly change your fitness routine, sign up for a competition, or do anything drastic without at least discussing it with your significant other first. See if it is the right time in your lives to make that commitment. Being fit is a big promise, but so is a committed relationship, so make sure you aren’t acting like your actions won’t affect the other person, because they will. Your hobbies and preferences always affect those around you. Don’t let different fitness philosophies sabotage your relationship let alone your health and fitness goals. Make the differences work for you instead of against you. Talk it out. Find common ground. Work together to explore options and perhaps most importantly, keep an open mind and be relentless with support.

EXPERT: Zane Hadzick is a NASM-certified trainer and a Bodybuilding.com and NutraBio athlete