A combo exercise is a 2-in-1 movement pattern.

Most of the combo exercises you see floating across the internet are, in my opinion, wish-washy pieces of crap. Instead of offering any real training benefit, they usually just try to look cool for the sake of looking cool.

Most combo exercises lack resistance on at least one of the two movement patterns. You’re always going to be able to handle more weight lunging than curling. So why pair them together?

Combo exercises have their merit. But it needs to make sense.

What makes a good combo exercise?

There’s one simple rule you should consider: Both exercises involved should have enough resistance to create an adaptive response in your muscles.

Let’s use the lunge/curl combo as an example.

The weight you use for lunges to work your legs is much higher than the weight you would use for curls to create an adaptive response in your biceps. Here, the weight distribution is imbalanced.

Staggered RDL to Eccentric Overhead Press – A Combo Exercise That Doesn’t Suck

Why it doesn’t suck:

  • Eccentric loading. You’re about 20% stronger during the eccentric portion of most exercises. Here, you’re eccentrically loading your hamstrings and lower back through the initial hinge before loading the shoulder and arms during the eccentric press.
  • Hinge, pull, and press pattern. This is a 3-in-1 combo. You’re targeting three major movement patterns with a hinge (lowering your chest to the floor), pull (pulling the dumbbell overhead), and press (lowering the dumbbell with an eccentric overhead press).
  • Upper and lower extremities. You’re effectively working your upper and lower body body. This is great if your goal is to get stronger and lose fat.
  • Even distribution of resistance. No exercise or program is going to be completely even or “balanced”, but this comes pretty damn close.

Coaching cues:

  • Contralateral loading (hold dumbbell in right hand with left leg slightly in front and vice versa).
  • Hinge forward with legs slightly bent.
  • Pull hips up to the ceiling and your chest down to the floor.
  • Reach dumbbell to the inside of your ankle.
  • Extend your hips forward and bring dumbbell overhead in one smooth motion (pull your elbow up before locking out your arm and imagine there’s a wall directly in front of you, not allowing your arm to swing out).
  • Slowly bring dumbbell down to your shoulder for a 4-5 sec eccentric loading.

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