Advanced Combination Total Body Exercises

Combination exercises give athletes more bang for their buck. These moves let you strengthen more muscles at once, while also reaping the benefits of working them in tandem. Below, we detail some of the best compound, whole-body exercises to add to your workout.


Squat With an Overhead Press

Squat press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The squat with an overhead press offers the perfect combination exercise. It's a move that works the glutes, hips, and thighs as well as the shoulders. These exercises complement each other, flowing naturally from one to the next and, if you use a heavy enough weight, you can even add an element of cardio to your workout.

  1. Begin with the feet hip-width apart, holding the weights just over your shoulders.
  2. Lower into a squat, sending the hips back while you keep the torso upright and the abs engaged.
  3. Press into the heels to stand up.
  4. As you stand, press the weights overhead, focusing on the shoulders.
  5. Lower the weights and repeat a squat with an overhead press for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

One Legged Deadlift With Leg Extension and Overhead Press

This exercise works almost every muscle in your body, all while challenging your balance and stability. You're essentially combining three exercises in one—a one-legged deadlift, followed by a leg extension, and an overhead press.

This is an advanced exercise, so take your time with the move and start with light weights to get your form down before progressing to heavier ones.

  1. Hold weights in both hands and begin by shifting the weight to your left foot.
  2. Lift the right leg straight up behind you as you tip from the hips (back straight), lowering until your torso and leg are parallel to the floor, weights close to the leg.
  3. Come back to start and swing the right leg forward and up to hip level, knee bent.
  4. Extend the right leg out as you push the weights overhead.
  5. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps on each side.
  6. You may need to put your foot down between each move to get your balance.
  7. To modify, keep that back toe on the floor during the deadlifts.

Squat and Curl with Rotating Press

This compound exercise targets the hips, glutes, and thighs as well as the biceps, shoulders, and the core in an efficient whole-body exercise. Use a lighter weight for this exercise to avoid too much momentum and make sure you pivot on the feet as you rotate up and to the side to keep the knees injury-free.

  1. Stand with the feet wide, toes out at an angle, and hold dumbbells with the palms facing in.
  2. Squat as low as you can, keeping the knees in line with the toes.
  3. Press up, curling the weights into a hammer curl.
  4. Squat again, straightening the arms.
  5. As you press up, curl the weights to the shoulders and then rotate to the right, pivoting on the feet while pressing the weights overhead.
  6. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps, alternating sides.

Sliding Burpees on a Step

Burpees are an excellent total body cardio exercise, but not everyone can do a traditional burpee. If you need a modification, try using a step and sliding discs or paper plates to eliminate the impact and make this move a little more accessible.

  1. Stand on sliding discs or paper plates in front of a step.
  2. Squat and put your hands on the step about shoulder distance apart.
  3. Slide the feet back into a plank position until the body is in a straight line.
  4. Pull the feet back in and stand up.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  6. Add mountain climbers when in plank position for more intensity.

One Leg Sliding Burpee on a Step

If you have trouble with traditional burpees or need a lower impact exercise that still challenges you, try this one-legged version of a sliding burpee using a step.

  1. Stand with the right foot on a sliding disc or paper plate in front of a step or platform.
  2. Squat and put your hands on the step about shoulder distance apart.
  3. Slide the right foot back as far as you can, keeping the weight in the heel of the left foot.
  4. Pull the foot back in and stand up.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps on each leg.

Burpee Squat


Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The burpee squat is the perfect marriage of two challenging exercises. The burpee engages the upper body, core, and the heart while the squat targets the glutes, making this a great total body exercise. Move faster and your heart rate will soar, adding a cardio element to this exercise. Enjoy the burn.

  1. Squat to the floor, placing the hands on either side of the feet.
  2. Jump or step (easier) the feet back into a plank position.
  3. Keep the body straight and the hips down, bracing the abs.
  4. Jump or step the feet back, positioning them on either side of the hands.
  5. Stand up tall with arms extended to the sky.
  6. Bend knees back down into a low squat, bringing the hips back and down while taking the arms straight up.
  7. Keep the torso upright and the abs engaged.
  8. Repeat for 1 or more sets for 30-60 seconds.

Dumbbell Circles

Dumbbell circles are an ideal exercise for working both the core and the shoulders. Keep the move safe by using a lighter weight and pivoting on the feet as you turn the body to avoid tweaking the knees.

  1. Begin facing forward, holding the weights down.
  2. Turn to the right, pivoting on both feet while bringing the weights up and over the head.
  3. Turn back to the middle, again pivoting on the feet, weights straight over the head.
  4. Pivot to the left, lowering the weights down to finish the circle.
  5. At the end of the move, you should be facing forward again with the weights down.
  6. Repeat for 4-8 reps on starting on each side.

Low Lunges with Rows

As far as timesaver exercises go, nothing beats these lunge rows. Because you're in a low row, with the back nearly parallel to the floor, keep your back straight and abs engaged to avoid lower back strain. 

  1. Begin in a lunge position, one foot forward, one foot back, weights in hand.
  2. The starting position is bent over, back straight, weights towards the floor and the knees bent into a low lunge.
  3. From that position, straighten the knees as you bend the elbows, pulling the weights up towards the torso.
  4. Try to keep the shoulders down and generate movement from the lats—the muscles on either side of your back.
  5. Lower the weights as you bend the knees back into your low row.
  6. Repeat with each leg forward for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Side Lunging Deadlift with Rows

Deadlifts are great for the hamstrings and glutes. This side lunging version brings a whole new level of intensity. Good form is key for keeping your back strong and protected during the exercise, so make sure your back is straight and you use your glutes to pick up the weight rather than your lower back.

  1. Begin in a wide stance holding weights with arms straight, hanging at sides, toes forward.
  2. Lunge to the right, bending the right knee and keeping the left leg straight as you shift the hips over the right foot.
  3. At the same time, take the weights to the floor on either side of the right foot. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
  4. Push into the heel and come back to the center and lift the weights to hip height in a rowing motion.
  5. Now go to the left, shifting the left hip over the left foot and placing the weights on either side of the left foot.
  6. Repeat, alternating sides for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Deadlift to Overhead Press with Lunge

over head press

Verywell / Ben Goldstein 

This exercise works just about every part of the body, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and shoulders. You'll even get a little cardio as your heart rate rises. This is a great overall exercise to incorporate into your training regime.

  1. Holding weights in front of the thighs, bend from the hips, keeping the back flat, and lower into a deadlift.
  2. As you pull back up, lift the weights overhead, arms straight up over the shoulders.
  3. Keeping the arms straight, step back into a reverse lunge with the right foot and then the left foot.
  4. Lower the weights and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.

Side Squat with Arnold Press

This exercise is the perfect addition to any cardio or strength training workout. Not only do you work the lower body and the shoulders, but you'll also get the heart rate up, adding a cardio element to the exercise. If you do this with a jump squat, you'll burn even more calories.

  1. Stand with the feet together and hold weights at chest level, palms facing each other.
  2. Take a wide step to the right into a wide squat, knees in line with the toes, weights at chest level.
  3. Step the foot back in as you press the weights overhead, rotating them so that the palms are facing out.
  4. As you lower the weights, step out to the left into a squat.
  5. Continue alternating sides, pressing the weight overhead each time you stand.
  6. Add intensity by doing a jump squat rather than just stepping out and in.
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