If you want to transform your physique for more muscle and less fat, there’s one kind of exercise you need to add to your routine: combinations. Combination exercises marry two exercises into one motion. These are not to be confused with compound exercises, which target more than one muscle group (or more than one joint).
Here’s how it works: These moves combine at least two different exercises into one fluid motion. Now you can target more muscle groups with just one combination exercise — more body parts targeted at once means more calories burned and more muscle-building stimulus on your body.
Read on for the best combination exercises to get the results you desire:
This combination exercise is so effective, it already has its own name. But when you take it apart, it’s basically a pushup, row and plank blended into one fat-torching exercise. Add these to your routine and you’ll take your upper body to a whole new level.
The move: Set two kettlebells or dumbbells about shoulder-width apart. Get into a pushup position with your hands grabbing the handles and your feet wide. Perform a pushup. At the top, row one kettlebell, set it down, then row the other one. That’s one rep. Repeat.
ROMANIAN DEADLIFT + BENT OVER ROW
If you want improve your athleticism, focus more on the muscles you can’t see in the mirror. To achieve that, look no further — this move targets everything from your hamstrings to your traps for more strength and power in your posterior chain.
The move: Start from a standing position with your feet hip-width apart while holding dumbbells. Push your hips backward, keep your back neutral and descend until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. At the bottom of the RDL, hold the bent-over position and perform a row. Then, return to the start position.
SPLIT SQUAT + SINGLE-ARM ROW
Back day? Swap your regular cable rows with this combination. Including a bodyweight split squat between each rep adds extra calorie burn and stability challenge to a ho-hum cable row.
The move: Set a band to chest height and grab the handle with one hand. Stand with one foot about 3 feet in front of the other so your knees make two 90-degree angles at the bottom. (Whatever side holds the handle should have that leg behind.) Perform a row. Then, drop straight down to perform a squat and drive with your front heel. Don’t let your front knee drift past your toe.
SQUAT + OVERHEAD PRESS
This exercise does it all: it’s a total-body move that builds muscle, blasts fat and torches your lungs for tremendous results. Just a few of these crank up any workout to the max.
The move: Hold two dumbbells by your shoulders. Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels and keep your knees apart. Drive up and push overhead at the same time.
STEP UP + OVERHEAD PRESS
If you want strong legs and lean arms, this combination is a must. Doing step-ups targets your quads, glutes and hamstrings, one leg at a time; then, adding an overhead press as you drive up with one leg develops upper-body strength and total-body balance.
The move: Hold two dumbbells in your hands and place one foot on a box or bench. Put all your weight on that foot and drive yourself up by pushing through your heel. Avoid pushing off with your bottom leg. At the top of the box, perform an overhead press.
SIDE PLANK + SINGLE-ARM ROW
This combination is a core killer. Not only do you have to do a side plank, but you have to brace your abs as you do a cable row to prevent your body from twisting.
The move: Lie on your side and place your forearm on the ground, perpendicular to your body. Keep your body straight, your glutes squeezed and your shoulders pulled back. Don’t let your hips sag. With the arm on top, grab the cable handle and row while keeping your body rigid.