12 Combo Exercises That Build Full-Body Strength

These exercise pairs can help you build strength in a short amount of time.

The Squat is generally called the "King of Exercises" for building total body size, plus bone and joint strength. When paired with Push-Ups, this dynamic duo especially stimulates growth-boosting hormones!

This article provides several Squat and Push-Up variations—some movements using external resistance (dumbbells) and other exercises using just your body weight.

Bonus: Both weight-bearing exercises not only produce greater bone density (helping prevent on and off the field fractures) but also indirectly strengthen core stabilizer muscles (key for optimizing sports performance and preventing abdominal and back injuries).

And perhaps best of all: The following short and intense Squat and Push-Up combinations are super time-savers for busy athletes since they're performed in superset style and can be done conveniently anywhere and anytime requiring minimal equipment.

Equipment

  • Two moderately heavy dumbbells (70-80% RM)
  • Bench or chair
  • Water bottle
  • Timer (optional)

Guidelines

  • Do a dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up (e.g. Arm Circles/Lunges).
  • Finish with cool-down upper- and lower-body static stretches to improve flexibility and range of motion.
  • Hydrate before, during and after workouts.
  • Do workouts on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
  • Sets: One superset per combo.
  • Rest: 60 seconds between combos.
  • Choose six combos per workout.

12 Exercise Combos

1. Slow-Rep Wall Squats + Push-Ups - 6 reps

With your back against a wall and your arms extended at shoulder level, slowly descend to a parallel squat position counting five seconds. Pause one second and then count five seconds returning to start. After six reps, immediately assume a Push-Up position. Count five seconds lowering toward the floor, pause one second, and count five seconds returning to start.

2. Jump Squats + Explosive Push-Ups - 10 reps

Jump as high as possible, land in a squat position, and quickly jump again. After 10 reps, do 10 explosive Push-Ups with your hands leaving the floor between reps. Both exercises promote lower and upper body power.

3. Bulgarian Split-Squats + Elevated Push-Ups - 8 reps

Hold the dumbbells with a supinated shoulder-level grip and your right foot behind you atop a bench or chair. Bend your knees and lower in two seconds. Pause one second at the bottom and quickly return to start. Do seven more reps and immediately place your left foot atop the bench or chair for eight reps. Bring the dumbbells to the floor and assume the Push-Up position with your feet atop the bench/chair and your hands in a neutral grip on the dumbbell handles. Lower in two seconds, pause one second at the bottom and quickly return to start.

4. 21s Method Dumbbell Squats + Push-Ups - 21 reps

Hold the dumbbells with a supinated shoulder-level grip. Do seven quarter-rep Squats. Then descend to the parallel Squat position and come up a quarter range of motion seven times. Finish with seven full Squats. Immediately assume the Push-Up position with your hands on the dumbbell handles (shoulder-width prone grip) and lower a quarter range seven times, followed by coming up a quarter range of motion (from the bottom position) seven times. Finish with seven full Push-Ups.

5. Isometric Wall Squat + Push-Up - for time

Descend into a Wall Squat parallel position with your arms extended overhead and hold the position as long as possible. Without rest, go to a Push-Up position and lower and hold as long as possible, keeping your back straight and abdomen tight (without your lower back sagging).

6. 1-1/4 Method Squats + Push-Ups - 6 reps

Hold the dumbbells with a prone grip at shoulder level. Lower a quarter range of motion, return to start position, then do a full Squat. Repeat five more times. Immediately go to a Push-Up position with your hands gripping the dumbbell handles in a neutral manner. Lower a quarter range of motion, return to start, then do a full Push-Up.

7. Single-Leg Jump Squats + One-Foot-Elevated Push-Ups - 10 reps

Do 10 Single-Leg Jump Squats on each leg. Quickly go to a Push-Up position, raise your right foot off the ground and do 10 Push-Ups. Immediately switch with your left foot airborne for 10 reps. Excellent balance-enhancing/core-strengthening exercises.

8. 60-Second High Rep Squats + Push-Ups - for time

Perform as many bodyweight Squats as you can in 60 seconds, superset with as many Push-Ups as possible in 60 seconds. Increases lower- and upper-body muscle endurance.

9. Negative Squats + Push-Ups - 5 reps

Slow the eccentric (negative) contractions in contrast to the faster tempo concentric (positive) contractions for another effective growth stimulus. With arms extended overhead, count 10 seconds to lower into a parallel Squat (negative phase) and two seconds returning to start (positive phase). Repeat four more times and go to the Push-Up position. Count 10 seconds lowering toward the floor and two seconds returning to start.

10. Pausing Squats + Push-Ups - 8 reps

Holding the dumbbells with a prone grip at shoulder level, descend to parallel Squat position in two seconds, pause four seconds, and return to start in two seconds. After seven more reps, assume a Push-Up position with a prone shoulder-width grip on the dumbbells. Lower in two seconds, pause four seconds, and return to start in two seconds.

11. Single-Leg Squats + Crocodile Push-Ups - 10 reps

With your arms laterally extended at shoulder level, perform 10 Single-Leg Squats with your right foot off the floor and 10 with your left foot airborne. Go to a Push-Up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Place your right hand a few inches forward, ahead of your left hand. Do a Push-Up, move your left hand forward ahead of your right hand and do a Push-Up. Continue alternating your hand position for 10 reps while moving forward during each Push-Up.

12. Side Squats + Windmill Push-Ups - 8 reps

Hold the dumbbells with a supinated shoulder-level grip. Squat to parallel and return to start. Move laterally right while squatting and continue for eight reps. Without rest, repeat the Squats while moving laterally left. Next do a Push-Up, laterally raise your right arm airborne and rotate toward your back. Return to start, do a Push-Up and laterally raise your left arm airborne and rotate toward your back. Continue alternating arm raises between Push-Ups for eight reps.

READ MORE ABOUT COMBO EXERCISES:


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SQUAT | PUSH-UP | BUILD MUSCLE | DUMBBELL EXERCISES