Unless you are a competitive weightlifter, strength training is not normally competitive. If you play sports, though, you'll get plenty of competition on the field. There are several ways to make strength training competitive and fun by turning your workouts into games. An element of competition may make you work harder than normal and also provides an additional competitive outlet.
Before any workout, spend a few minutes warming up to ensure your muscles are ready. Do five to 10 minutes of light cardio such as jogging and some stretches for the muscles you are about to use. Make sure you are fit for exercise before starting, especially if you have been sedentary or are recovering from an injury.
Deck of Cards
The deck of cards game is a fun way to boost fitness and strength. Using a regular deck of cards, allocate an exercise to each suit. For example, pushups to hearts and situps to spades. Starting with the deck face down, turn the top card over and do the number of repetitions indicated by the value of the card so, if you turn over the eight of hearts, do eight pushups. On completion, turn over another card and repeat the process. Face cards are worth 12 and aces are worth one. For jokers, set a challenge such as running for a certain distance or doing 20 burpees. Try to complete the deck as fast as you can while performing each chosen exercise with good form.
Pairs Pushup Pyramid
Pushups are an effective way to develop upper body strength, and the pairs pushup pyramid adds a competitive angle to this classic exercise. With a partner, get down into the pushup position. Perform a single pushup and then have your partner to do the same. Continue adding one rep each until one of you is unable or unwilling to continue. The winner is the last person still able to do pushups. This pairs pyramid can be performed using any exercise where two people can work out at the same time.
Hooverball is a game that is scored like tennis, is similar to volleyball and was invented by White House physician Admiral Joel T. Boone to help keep President Herbert Hoover fit. The game consists of opposing teams of two to four players throwing a 6-pound medicine ball over an 8-foot net. Points are scored when a team fails to catch and return the ball. Throwing and catching a medicine ball is an effective way to develop strength, skill, coordination and cardiovascular fitness. Hoover-ball is popular with the CrossFit community.
Partner Carries and Wheelbarrow Races
Carrying a partner on your back, in the crook of your arms or in a fireman's carry will test and develop total-body strength. Popular in martial arts, military and emergency services training, partner carries also develop anaerobic fitness. Wheelbarrows, where you adopt the pushup position while a partner holds your legs and you walk on your hands, are also effective for developing strength, albeit in your upper body and core only. Both partner carries and wheelbarrows can be made into competitive games by racing one pair against another.
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.