10 Combo Moves That Help You Build More Muscle in Less Time

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Combine your favorite moves to get your pump on and finish your workout faster.
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You're busy — we understand! You need an intense, efficient training routine to maximize calorie burn in a minimal amount of time, which is why combining two exercises into one is your best bet.

They work multiple muscle groups at the same time and increase your heart rate and metabolic rate so you're getting a cardio and strength-training workout. To train more efficiently, follow these 10 compound movements for a total-body routine in minimal time.

1. Bulgarian Split Squat to Biceps Curl

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Arms and Butt
  1. Place one foot on a stable bench or platform behind you.
  2. Step the opposite leg far out in front of you so that when you squat down you create a 90-degree angle with your front knee.
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and keep your core tight as you squat.
  4. Squeeze the glutes and drive up.
  5. Perform a biceps curl at the top of the split squat by lifting the weights up to your shoulders while keeping your upper arms glued to your sides..
  6. Do all your reps on one leg before switch legs and repeating.

2. Step-Up to Overhead Press

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Legs, Shoulders and Butt
  1. Using a stable step or bench, start with one foot on the bench in front of you so that your knee is at a 90-degree angle.
  2. With a dumbbell in each hand in the front-rack position (held at your shoulders), step up onto the bench.
  3. At the top of the step-up, press the dumbbells overhead without locking your elbows or hiking up your shoulders.
  4. Lower back down and repeat on the opposite leg.

3. Bench Press to Leg Raise

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Abs and Chest
  1. Lie on the floor with dumbbells or barbell in hand.
  2. Start with the dumbbells/barbell a few inches off your chest, then press up to the sky.
  3. As the weight is at the top, raise your legs up till your legs and arms are parallel to each other (and perpendicular to the floor).
  4. Lower your legs back down to the floor as you lower the weights back toward your chest (stopping when your triceps are about to hit the floor).

4. Pull-Up to Toes-to-Bar

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Advanced
Activity CrossFit
Body Part Arms, Back and Abs
  1. Start by hanging from a pull-up bar.
  2. Complete a strict pull-up by engaging the core and squeezing the lats together as you bring your chest up to the bar.
  3. With control, lower back down to the starting position.
  4. With your legs as straight as possible, contract your abs and raise your toes so that they tap the pull-up bar.
  5. Lower your legs back down and repeat.

5. Walkout Plank to Push-Up

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Body Part Abs, Arms, Chest and Legs
  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bend at the waist and place your hands on the floor.
  3. While keeping a stable core, walk your hands out to a high plank position.
  4. While in the plank position, bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body and lower down to a push-up and raise back up.
  5. Walk your feet to your hands and repeat.

Tip

If you don’t have that much space, you can also walk your hands back to your feet after each rep.

6. Shoulder Tap to Push-Up

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Body Part Abs and Shoulders
  1. Start in a high plank with your hands on the floor and shoulders over your wrists. Spread your feet apart several inches to gain better balance.
  2. While keeping your core stable, raise the right hand to tap the left shoulder and lower your hand back down.
  3. Then tap the left hand to the right shoulder and lower it back down.
  4. After you have tapped both shoulders, drop down into a push-up, getting your chest as close to the floor as possible while keeping your back straight.
  5. Press back up to the starting position and continue with the taps.

Tip

With this exercise, you’ll really need to focus on keeping your entire core stable and not rolling to one side or the other as you tap each shoulder.

7. Push-Up to Row

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Abs, Chest and Back
  1. Start in a high plank with a dumbbell in each hand. Spread your feet apart to gain more control and balance over your body.
  2. Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body and lower down into the bottom of a push-up.
  3. Press into the floor to raise back up to a high plank.
  4. Row the right arm back so that your hand is close to your armpit while keeping it close to your side. Your elbow should be pointed straight up to the ceiling.
  5. Lower the weight down to the floor and repeat on the other side.

Tip

With each push-up, change the arm you start rowing with.

8. Dumbbell Squat to Overhead Press

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Body Part Legs, Butt and Shoulders
  1. Start with dumbbells in a front-rack position (at your shoulders) and your feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Squat down (below parallel if your mobility allows) and drive back up.
  3. As you drive up, use your momentum to launch the dumbbells overhead.
  4. Lower the dumbbells back down to your shoulders and go straight into the next rep.

Tip

Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to build functional strength, but sometimes you need a break from the traditional squat. Mix it up with this variation.

You can also pause between the squat and the overhead press if the momentum is too stressful on your joints.

9. Hang Power Clean to Front Squat

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Advanced
Activity Barbell Workout
Body Part Back, Legs, Butt, Shoulders and Arms
  1. Start in the hang position with the barbell in front of you (unloaded if you haven't done this move before). Your starting position is similar to that of a deadlift, but with both palms facing your body. Hold the bar just above your knees and feel your hamstrings engage.
  2. Then drive the hips (as though you were jumping) and shrug so that the bar goes straight up the front of your body.
  3. Since this is a power clean, you should drop to a quarter-squat position to receive the bar, whipping the elbows in front of you to start your front squat.
  4. With the bar resting across your collarbone, lower down into a front squat.
  5. As you drive up, think of screwing your feet outward into the ground to fully engage your glutes.

Tip

These last two moves require a bit of weightlifting skill and practice, so perfect your form first before adding weight.

10. Hang Power Snatch to Overhead Squat

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Travis McCoy
Skill Level Advanced
Activity Barbell Workout
Body Part Arms, Butt, Legs and Shoulders
  1. Start from the hang position with your arms wider than your shoulders (in snatch position). If you were to stand up, the bar would hit your hip crease.
  2. Bend at the hips so that you engage your hamstrings.
  3. Extend the hips and pull the bar as high as possible to receive the bar overhead.
  4. Drop into a quarter squat to receive the weight of the bar.
  5. Once the bar is overhead you may need to adjust your foot placement so that your mobility allows you to squat down with the bar above you.
  6. Next, tighten your core and lower down into an overhead squat.
  7. Stand back up and drop the bar with control so that you are back to the starting position.

Tip

Instead of performing a full-squat snatch, you can break the movements apart to gain greater control. This is a great option for beginners because it gives you time to master the proper form.

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