Unstoppable Exercise Pairs

Compound exercises help you maximize your workouts when you're tight on time. Also, they require functional movements, so you'll perform better on the field.

Exercise Pairs

You're swamped. You've got classes to attend, homework to complete, practices to join and game film to study. Unless a higher power extends the day to 26 hours, a page-long list of exercises will not fit in your schedule. Your workouts need to be efficient and effective.

Enter compound exercises—the solution to getting the most from your workouts when you're tight on time.

The concept is simple. Combine two exercises into a single, seamless movement. You'll use more muscle groups, burn more calories and stimulate more muscle growth all at once. Combos cause your body to release elevated levels of natural growth hormone, which builds muscle. Also, they require moves that more closely simulate how you move when you play sports.

"Athletic movements like sprinting, jumping or throwing are random, multi-directional and involve several joints at once," explains Lee Boyce, trainer and owner of Lee Boyce Training Systems. "Compound exercises more closely mimic how you move, and translate better to sport-specific training."

Below are compound movements Boyce recommends for working your major muscle groups. Perform each group once per week as part of your regular workout routine to become a leaner, stronger, faster athlete in less time.

Group 1

Dumbbell Thruster 

Dumbbell Thruster

Combines: Dumbbell Squat and Dumbbell Neutral-Grip Shoulder Press

Benefits: Whenever you throw a ball or swing a bat, club or racquet, the movement actually begins with your legs and hips. This combo follows that exact lower-body to upper-body pattern.

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold the dumbbells at your shoulders with your elbows bent.
  • Bend your hips and knees to lower into a Front Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Stand up out of the Squat and immediately drive your arms overhead to perform an Overhead Press.
  • Lower the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat.

Sets/Reps: 3-4x6-8 

Dumbbell Pull-Over Press

Dumbbell Pull-Over Press

Combines: Dumbbell Pull-Over and Dumbbell Closed-Grip Press

Benefits: Strengthens your lats—the largest muscle group in your upper body—while developing bigger and stronger triceps.

How to:

  • Lie on a bench with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Hold dumbbells at your chest with your palms facing each other.
  • Lower the dumbbells behind your head until your upper arms are in line with your torso, then pull them back to the starting position and press them up over your chest.
  • Lower the dumbbells and repeat.

Sets/Reps: 3x8-10 each leg

Group 2

Lunge to Single-Arm Press

Lunge to Single-Arm Press

Combines: Dumbbell Lunge and Dumbbell Single-Arm Shoulder Press

Benefits: Works your legs and shoulders. Your core must engage to keep you stable when pressing the weight overhead to one side.

How to:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold dumbbells at your shoulders.
  • Step forward with your right leg and lower into a Lunge until your forward thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • Hold this position as you drive your left arm up to press the dumbbell overhead.
  • Lower the weight to your shoulder, then stand up. Repeat with your opposite leg and arm.

Sets/Reps: 3x8-10 each leg

Renegade Row

Renegade Row

Combines: Push-Up, Dumbbell Single-Arm Row and Plank

Benefits: Maintaining a plank position simultaneously works the chest and back while strengthening the deep core muscles that protect your spine from injury.

How to:

  • Assume a push-up position with light dumbbells in your hands, palms facing in.
  • Perform a Push-Up.
  • At the top of the Push-Up, row the weight in your right hand to your torso.
  • Lower the dumbbell to the ground, return to the starting position, and repeat with your left arm.
  • Continue in alternating fashion.
  • Finish with a Plank.

Sets/Reps: 3x8-10 each side, plus 30-60 seconds Plank

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: WEIGHTLIFTING | CHEST | WORKOUTS | PRESS | THROW | DUMBBELLS | COMBINES