ROB MACDONALD
Photo By ROB MACDONALD

Ever noticed how you train harder when someone is watching?

The eye of a coach or workout partner holds you accountable and breeds effort—no one consistently puts up personal records alone.

I like to take advantage of that phenomenon by pairing people up and putting them through a very specific, very evil kind of Gym Jones workout: The Tailpipe.

Tailpipes are designed in such a way that the amount of exercise-induced suffering you go through is determined by how much effort your partner is willing to give. Vice versa—if you slack off, your partner pays dearly.

They work like this: You start a timer, then one guy covers a specific distance (or does a certain number of reps) of a cardiovascular exercise while the other guy holds an isometric exercise.

So, for example, you run 400 meters while your friend holds two dumbbells overhead. When you finish your run, you immediately switch positions with your partner.

The longer it takes you to cover your distance or finish your reps, the longer your buddy has to suffer under the weight of the isometric exercise. Then it’s your turn to hold the weight while your partner runs. When he finishes, that’s one round. The goal is to finish three rounds as quickly as possible.

Tailpipes get very brutal, very fast. That’s because there’s no way you won’t give more effort when you see the horrified look on your partner’s face—I’ve seen these workouts make people work harder than they ever have alone. (They’re called “tailpipes” because they’ll make you feel like you’re sucking air through a tailpipe).

And besides compelling you to work harder, the workouts also teach you to breathe under load. That’s important for recovery and pretty much any fitness activity.

So grab a partner and try it yourself. Below are five of my favorite Tailpipe workouts, and instructions on how you can build your own. You’ll work even harder if you get four buddies, team up in twos, and see which team can finish fastest.

The Classic Gym Jones Tailpipe
Person 1: Row 250 meters
Person 2: Hold two, 24-kilogram kettlebells in the rack position

Once Person 1 covers 250 meters, switch positions. Go for three rounds.

The Nordic Nightmare Tailpipe
Person 1: SkiErg (or row) 250 meters
Person 2: Hold two 20-pound dumbbells overhead

Once Person 1 covers 250 meters, switch positions. Go for three rounds.

The Tour de Tailpipe
Person 1: Burn 30 calories on a fan bike, like an AirDyne or Assault Bike
Person 2: Hold a plank

Once Person 1 burns 30 calories, switch positions. Go for three rounds.

The Leg Lacerating Tailpipe
Person 1: Run 400 meters
Person 2: Hold the “down” position of a bodyweight squat

Once Person 1 finishes 400 meters, switch positions. Go for three rounds.

The Burpee Nightmare Tailpipe
Person 1: Do 20 burpees
Person 2: Hold a pushup position

Once Person 1 finishes 20 burpees, switch positions. Go for three rounds.

Build Your Own Tailpipe
Pair one of the lung burners with one of the muscle burners. As in the Tailpipes above, Person 1 does a lung burner while Person 2 does a muscle burner. When Person 1 is done, immediately switch positions.

Lung Burners
Row or SkiErg 250 metersBurn 30 calories on a fan bike, like an AirDyne or Assault Bike
Run 400 meters
Do 30 burpees
Do 50 double-unders
Do a 100 yard farmer’s walk
Do 35 kettlebell swings (with a 24-kilogram weight)

Muscle Burners
Hold two kettlebells in the rack position (with a 24-kilogram weight)
Hold a plank
Hold the pushup position
Hold two 20-pound dumbbells overhead
Do a wall sit
Hold the “down” position of a bodyweight squat