Total package: All-body routines can help you pass plateaus

Why work one muscle when you can work two? Why work two when you can work them all?

If you want to burn serious calories and wake up your routine, try throwing in a total body day or two by combining a few of your favorite exercises.

Combining exercises is a good way to increase the intensity of your workouts. It burns more calories and is a good way to condition the entire body. Total body exercises are also functional. They improve core conditioning under stress and transfer well into everyday activities. They also involve a little balance and can help make you more stable.

With the exercises I recommend in today’s column, you don’t have to be under heavy bars or use a spotter. If you have a workout partner, he or she can help you keep an eye on your form.

The first exercise is a squat-to-row. Once you have the squat mastered, then you can combine it with a row. This combination will work the posterior chain. Mainly the hamstrings, glutes, core and the major muscles of the back. Though the majority of the weight is on the row, many muscle groups will have to work together to execute the exercise. The legs drive up as the core stabilizes and the back contracts to perform the row.

Second is the lunge-to-fly. (As if lunges couldn’t get any harder!) In addition to the lunge working the lower body, now the core will stabilize and the chest will contract to help bring the arms together. The weight doesn’t need to be heavy, just enough to make the lunge challenging.

You can perform these two exercises slowly to help build tendon strength and core stability. Doing them fast will work on cardio conditioning to help burn those holiday calories. I like them because they are simple to learn and very effective. They make a good addition to most any circuit.

I’ve used these exercises on a range of clients, from teenagers to those more seasoned in years. As long as you’re able and conditioned to perform the basic movements that make up the combined exercises, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Another good total body exercise is the burpee. It involves jumping, pushups and for some, a fair amount of swearing. Burpees strengthen several muscles and are a good way to increase endurance. Read next week’s column to find out how to do them.

Total body workouts will help you break through conditioning plateaus. Periods of leveled-off results require a kick to get the progress climbing again. Add a total body day or two during the week while alternating the cardio equipment you’re using and you should break through your plateaus. 

Some individuals may find it difficult to get through a full set of total-body exercises. If that’s your experience, I suggest doing a couple of repetitions and resting. Build up to a full set of 10 to 20. As you near your goal you will find that you develop your mental toughness and your body will be forced to adapt.

Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. You can contact him at Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician.

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