Workout partners of the world, we give you permission to lie. New research says it will help your buddy’s performance in the gym.
A psychological phenomenon called “social norms” – the same one that keeps us wearing pants in public because everyone else is – can be applied during exercise to maximize effort, according to a study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise.
The study shows that believing your workout results are worse than others will push you to perform better.
Researchers asked volunteers to do a set of two planks to exhaustion with 3 minutes of rest in between. After the first plank, half the participants were told their performance was worse than 80% of other exercisers. Bolstered by the embarrassment of finishing near the bottom, these participants held their second plank an average of 5 seconds longer than their first – an impressive feat considering their previous plank was also to exhaustion.
The control group, which was told nothing, expectedly performed worse during the second go-around.
For workout partners, this justifies a little friendly ribbing. Go ahead and tell your buddy you’ve seen your great aunt do ten more pullups than he just did. The little white lie in the gym might hurt his ego, but it won’t hurt his results.