01 Oct Raise Your Standards
Raise Your Standards. Why training in a strong group will get you performing better.
It seems there is in fact strength in numbers and there’s research to back it up. We are talking about group training, and whatever flavor of group you choose, there are a plethora of benefits. We went on a mission to find out why training in a group is so damn good. Here’s what we found:
1. Become Accountable
When you’re working out with others you build a connection to that community and in turn, amp up your accountability. It starts with the introductory hand shake, you learn people’s names and through conversation here and there, find out more about the people in the class. It generally follows that you establish regular mates and become workout buddies in a sense. Your own ‘no-shows’ and ‘cancellations’ are noticed pretty quickly. This is called positive peer pressure. The obligation to do what you say you were going to do, nips that urge to skip a workout in the bud. You’re committed long term to your fitness and wellness by the relationships you make and the accountability it brings. There will always be times when snoozing the 5am alarm is more appealing then dragging yourself out of bed.
Being held accountable by the people who you work out with normalizes the need to maintain effective health-and-fitness behavior as well as promotes a feeling of community.
2. Consistency in training = Faster adaptation
This accountability has a roll on effect for long-term workout consistency. If you are now committed to your workouts and them happening on a regular basis, you will be able to measure them. Until you have tried something for a long period of time, it’s impossible to measure its effectiveness. Worked out three to four times for six months? You can now see the effects of that, then make the minor tweaks in your program which can benefit your overall performance long term.
For athletes to achieve the goals they set out for themselves, they must have a solid fitness foundation. This foundation is built on consistency in training. Committed to your group training class? You are going to be more consistent with your volume and intensity of workouts. Consistency to keep up with your workout program and set minimum standards is what will bring you from your base level fitness into your elite performance arena.
Consistency in a workout routine leads to faster results. All those workouts you didn’t skip add up. Working out with your group becomes a habit and a routine. You no longer have to think about when you’re going to the gym, you just train every Tuesday afternoon at 4:30, because it’s what you do. From habit, it becomes further absorbed as a part of your identity, and now you’re the person who never misses a Tuesday afternoon class. If the adaption processes keystone is consistency, well buddy, you are on your way to major performance gains.
3. Push yourself harder
Exercise in a group setting makes you workout harder in two ways. Firstly, people generally don’t want to be the weakest link in a bunch, and secondly it sparks that competitive streak in all of us, in turn, making you push yourself harder than you would otherwise.
Ever heard of the Köhler motivation gain effect? The premise is that there is a phenomenon in a group setting, whereas people become more highly motivated. It’s attributed to psychological mechanisms of upward social comparison. If you are working out with someone you perceived as being fitter than you, then you are going to push yourself harder.
Another reason you will push yourself harder when others are killing it alongside you the competitive streak innate in all of us. Competition by definition is of an extrinsic nature, and it’s in the group setting where it’s ignited. People tend to improve in competitive environments, as you compare yourself with others (back to that upward social comparison) you see how much harder you need to work to reach where you want to go.
Ever been on the rower and just pushed a little harder than the person next to you? This is you bettering your performance in a group setting.
Cheaper to what you may ask. Well, working out in a group setting is cheaper than hiring a personal trainer, and you get some similar benefits.
Firstly in a small class setting you are supervised by a trainer who is guiding you through a structured session with specific focuses. It may be legs, core, have an aerobic focus or you could be learning a new skill. Whatever the target for the workout, be sure to know that it has been thought out by a professional with carefully planned sequencing to activate certain muscles and physiology systems. You will be spending time on the correct exercises to help you reach the goal of the workout. You are outsourcing the research and thought to put such a workout together, and instead you can spend your brain power on focusing on that rep. Woot! This specific and thought out program will also have you moving faster to improved performance results.
Additionally, you’ll learn and be shown proper techniques for movements so you will stay safe and injury free. The group trainer will help you with any modifications you need, if your training around an existing injury or rehabbing something. Having a group instructor watching you perform movements as well and make corrections for you specifically will also reduce the risk of injury, keeping you training more consistently in the long run instead of nursing some soft tissue problem at home for six weeks. Gains here you come.
Last reason why being cheaper can help you with performance gains? Finance is a barrier for entry for some, so if it’s more affordable, it will have a better chance to stay in the budget over the long term.
5. Ditch the stress, recover faster
Two separate studies have shown that group workout classes lowers stress by up to 26 percent and group fitness improves quality of life. One of the studies had two groups of medical students workout, Group One were placed into group fitness classes, Group Two worked out individually. Those who exercised alone in the 12-week study put in more effort. However they experienced no significant changes, whilst the team workout group showed a decrease in perceived stress and increase in physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
When you are approaching the pointy end of performance gains, stress management is a huge factor within your overarching training program as it can have a large effect on performance. If stress begins to be perceived as overwhelming or excessive, it begins to have a negative impact on athletic output. If this negative impact is over a period of time it can cause burnout, breakdown and injury. Thus getting on top of your stressors is a major focal point for elite athletes.
If you are heading to a group training class, you can benefit from the increased endorphins, social connection and decreased perception of stress to maintain and add gains to your overall athletic performance. Win win.
Interested in the other study’s findings? Check ‘em out here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030092917.htm
6. Group dynamics
You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So says motivational speaker Jim Rohn. If this is the case, the people around us are the biggest influencers on our behaviour, perspectives and results. Darren Hardy writes further in The Compound Effect; “According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.”
If we want to achieve a goal, then we can insert ourselves in an already established group setting (did someone say group fitness class?) and just by osmosis you will be one step closer towards your objective. This is not all just motivational hype, research shows that the healthy actions of others rub off on us. A study found in the Journal of Social Sciences concluded that participants gravitate towards the behavior of those around them.
And a 2016 study published in the journal Obesity found that overweight people tend to lose more weight if they spend time with their fit friends — the more time they spend together, the more weight they lose.
7. Get In Sync
If we go one step further we will find that working out in synchronicity with others improves pain tolerance, enables social bonding and increases athletic performance. In a 2013 study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, researchers recruited people to work out for 45 minutes on rowing machines.
After the session, people who had rowed in groups, and synchronised their movements, had a higher pain tolerance compared to solo rowers. Pain tolerance increased whether people were rowing with teammates or with strangers.
This type of in-synced movement is named behavioral synchrony. It happens other places than the Zumba studio, in cultural or religious rituals, military marches, and even play. The increased pain tolerance is thought to be from the release of feel-good hormones which is related to group environments. It may also boost your performance, especially if you’re already close to other people in the group.
Both your trainer and your fellow participants are there to support and assist you throughout your entire sweat session. This support group can be just what you need to power through your workouts, push yourself a little bit further and reach your health and fitness goals.
Everyone is there in the group environment for a similar reason or goal. They are/have been/will go through similar situations such as burn out or lack of motivation. If it is an activity specific group, such as climbing, running, or mountain biking groups, they’ll know the books to read and the methods to use. They might have competed in events, know specs on gear and have training tips to share. They will geek out on that film which just came out and know that one obscure person who is progressing the sport.
In a group fitness class you can gain knowledge, expand your social circle and make new adventure buddies who can take your game to the next level. Entering such a class you are stepping into an already established community with people of a similar mindset, intentions and habits. Your personal best performance might not be about how much you can lift, or how fast you can compete. It is often the small incremental experiences gained, or the knowledge which can help you edge closer to your goals.
The conclusion? Training in a group environment has a plethora of benefits to offer your performance. Training in a strong group, that is, people who are, or you perceive to be, performing better than you will make this gain even greater. Our advice? Go hunt down that strong group.