Combined Power

Exercise Photographs by Beth Bishoff

Swiss-ball pushup/jackknife

Good morning/behind-the-neck press

Allow US to make an assumption about you: When you hit the weight room, you sometimes have trouble focusing on the simple act of working one muscle group at a time, resting, working it again, resting, and continuing for an hour that often seems like five. Sure, you like the results, but you have to wonder if there isn't a faster track to the same trophy muscles.

There is. "You can perform two or three exercises at the same time, and you can handle some heavy loads while you do it," says Alwyn Cosgrove, CSCS, a strength coach and owner of Cosgrove F.A.S.T. Systems in Newhall, California. The tech-nical name for these multipart exercises is hybrid lifts, and Cosgrove uses them successfully with time-pressed athletes and executives.

You can do the following hybrid lifts two different ways: You can hoist fairly heavy weights, lift slowly, and use the exercises as your main muscle builders. Or you can try lighter weights, work fast, and use them to improve sports performance or shift your fat-burning metabolism into the credit column.

Either way, try them two or three times a week for four weeks. You may get so hooked on multitasking that you never go back to lifting weights the old-fashioned way.


Swiss-ball pushup/jackknife

Get into pushup position—your hands set slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders—but instead of placing your feet on the floor, rest your shins on a Swiss ball. Startwith your arms straight and your back flat.

Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.

Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position.

Now, lift your hips up as high as you can and pull your feet toward you by rolling the ball as close to your torso as possible.

Pause, then roll the ball back to the starting position. That’s one repetition.

Do two sets of 10-12 repetitions.

To build more muscle: Try the bench press/reverse crunch. Lie on a bench with your feet in the air, a medicine ball or dumbbell between your knees, and a barbell or dumbbells held up at arm’s length. Lower the weights to your chest, then do a reverse crunch—curl your hips up and in toward your torso. Lower your hips to the bench, then raise the bar to arm’s length and repeat.


Good morning/behind-the-neck press


Dumbbell power clean/box jump/squat

Dumbbell power clean/box jump/squat

Grab a pair of light dumbbells and stand about six inches behind a sturdy box or step that’s 12-18 inches high. Hold the dumbbells at your sides and bend your knees slightly.

Jump up on the box by dipping your knees and swinging your arms forward. Allow your momentum to carry your arms up and bend your elbows so that when you land on the box, your upper arms are parallel to the floor and the dumbbells rest above your shoulders.

Keep the dumbbells in the same posi-tion and perform squats by lowering your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Step down off the box.

Do four or five sets of 4-6 repetitions, completing up to four squats after each jump. So a set of four cleans and jumps could include up to 16 squats.

To build more muscle: Try the power clean and squat, without the jump. That way you can use heavier weights for the clean.


Jump squat/sternum chinup

Stand under a chinup bar with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands at your sides.

Lower your body by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then jump up to the chinup bar so that your palms are facing you and shoulder-width apart when you grab it.

Using the momentum from your jump, pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar. You’ll have to arch backward to pull this off.

Lower yourself to the starting position, then repeat.

Do one or two sets of 12-15 repetitions. This one is tough on your palms, so consider gloves.

To build more muscle: Lower yourself slowly on the chinup—take up to 10 seconds. Or do three or four chinups after each jump.


Here’s how to create your own hybrid exercises

A good multipart exercise has to be challenging to all the muscles you’re trying to work. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, since most hybrid exercises combine upper- and lower-body movements. And, unless something has gone tragically wrong, your lower-body muscles are a heck of a lot stronger than the stuff you like to flex in your bathroom mirror. So you need to put your bigger muscles at some sort of mechanical disadvantage while giving your smaller muscles a kick-start.

You can make up your own moves or experiment with some of these combinations that the strength coach Alwyn Cosgrove uses with the athletes he trains. Each allows momentum for upper-body muscles and requires balance from the lower body.

1. Lateral stepup/hammer curl Stand with a step or bench beside you and hold dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. Step side-ways onto the bench with one foot, and as you rise, curl the weights to your shoulders.

2. Front squat/shoulder press With a barbell or dumbbells, squat down with the weight resting on the front of your shoulders. Then, as you stand up, use the momentum to help press the weight overhead.

3. Lunge with overhead press Stand holding dumb-bells at your shoulders. As you lunge forward or backward, press the weights overhead. Return to the starting position, then lower the dumbbells.


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