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Perfect Pairings

Perfect Pairings

Combining Movements to Maximize
Strength and Muscle Mass Increase

Effective and efficient—these are the E words that drive the training process. Dense training sessions that accomplish a lot in a little time are the small investments that pay large training dividends. But effectiveness and efficiency require smart exercise combinations. Let’s examine a few powerful exercise combination strategies that take training to the next level.

Session Density

Session density is the amount of work done within a training session. The goal, in most instances, is to make training sessions as dense as possible. More work in less time equals bigger bodily changes.

Combos and Goals

Exercise combinations depend on training goals. You just said “duh” to yourself, didn’t you? It’s not that obvious to everyone. There are a lot of haphazard exercises being slapped together into pairs—just have a look around your typical commercial gym.

If the goal is absolute strength, compound strength movements should be paired with mobility or stability exercises. (We’ll go into these more in a bit.) These combos also work for folks looking to generally move better.

If the goal is general strength and aesthetics, two strength movements should be paired together.

Mobility and stability exercises are less demanding than strength exercises—they have a smaller energy cost. This is perfect when absolute strength is the goal. The stability and mobility exercises improve performance of the strength movement without draining energy. Think of those chasing a new one-rep max on a barbell lift.

General strength and aesthetics, however, are accomplished with greater energy expenditure. This means more training stress. This means pairing two strength exercises together. The question is how to achieve this.

Using simple, actionable examples, let’s pair exercises based on goals.

Strength and Stability Pairings:
Front Squat and Barbell Rollout

Staying upright and controlling the core while squatting is a must for moving big weights. It requires a solid, stable core.

Much of the job falls on the anterior core—the abs and the obliques—to handle the load so the back isn’t overwhelmed and overstressed. Unfortunately, most folks train their abs by bending and twisting their torsos in every imaginable way. Rather than teaching the abs to keep the midsection stable, we teach them the exact opposite.

To squat big weight, the abs must learn to keep the torso still while transferring energy from the floor, through the legs and into the bar. We learn by challenging the torso to move and fighting to keep it still.

Front squats and barbell rollouts are a great combo that trains the stability needed to squat big weight.

Here’s how to pair them:

Complete a set of front squats, rest thirty seconds and then complete a set of eight to twelve barbell rollouts. Focus on keeping the abs tight during each exercise to ensure that the spine doesn’t flex or extend at all.

Strength and Mobility Pairings:
Rack Pull and Leg Lowers

Appreciable hip mobility is a prerequisite for heavy deadlifting. Problem is, not everyone is blessed with superior mobility in the hips. What’s a lifter to do? Build the strength to deadlift while simultaneously improving hip mobility.

Rack pulls build strength in the deadlift pattern. They train all the muscles that pull to synch and move heavy weight. They don’t, however, require the full deadlifting range of motion. This is a plus for lifters with limited hip mobility.

As we build strength with rack pulls, we pair them with leg lowers to train hip mobility. Leg lowers are done by lying flat on your back with your legs straight and hips flexed to ninety degrees, so the bottoms of both feet are pointed straight at the ceiling, and then lowering one leg to the ground while keeping the other in the starting position. Both legs are kept completely straight throughout the exercise.

Here’s how to pair them:

Complete a set of rack pulls, rest thirty seconds and then complete a set of five to eight leg lowers per side. Focus on keeping both legs straight during leg lowers and the low back flat on the ground.

Strength and Strength Pairings:
Deadlift and Dumbbell Bench Press

Pair big compound movements and something magical happens—muscles grow all over the human frame. Strength combos create a monumental disturbance of the nervous bodily systems. They send a strong message to adapt and build muscle. Their bodily disturbance creates a powerful hormonal response in the form of testosterone and growth hormone increase.

We must, however, be smart with our selections. Pairing exercises that compete with one another often produce exhaustion more than they produce results. Pairing compound, non-competitive exercises, however, is a great way to consistently build strength and muscle.

The simplest means is to pair lower body pulls (think deadlifting movements) with upper-body pushes (think bench press and overhead press variations). Equally as productive are lower-body pushes (squats and lunges) paired with upper-body pulls (rows, pull-ups and pull-downs).

Pairing exercises this way ensures that the lifts aren’t draining energy from the same muscles. You’ll be able to keep the loads heavier for each lift and produce better strength and muscle gains.

Our examples are the deadlift and the dumbbell bench press.

Here’s how to pair them:

Perform one set of deadlifts, rest thirty seconds to one minute, and then complete a set of dumbbell bench presses. Do three to eight reps of each exercise.

Supplement Suggestions

[Editor’s Note: All of the savvy exercise pairing in the world won’t help you build strength and muscle if your body isn’t recovering properly after a workout. Research tells us that BCAA supplementation before and after an intensive, tissue-damaging bout of exercise will help you muscle recover its ability to produce maximal force, reduce soreness, and favorably impact blood-based markers of muscle damage. When taking BCAAs, you’ll want to look for BCAAs () in the clinically indicated 2:1:1 leucine-to-isoleucine-to-valine ratio. That’s exactly what you’ll get in ProSource’s Mega BCAA product, all of it sourced from the very highest-quality aminos, and available in both powder and convenient capsule forms.

Another superior option for athletes looking to support recovery with anabolism-triggering leucine is BioQuest’s MyoZene mass builder. MyoZene contains an advanced leucine-bound leucine peptide technology that enables leucine to remain soluble and stable for enhanced utilization, a capacity that results in MyoZene containing up to 4 times the bioavailable leucine content found in typical mass builders. Add in ultra-rapid-action whey hydrolysate, potent cell-volumizing creatine monohydrate, and a number of other potent growth factors, and you’ve got a recipe for extreme physique enhancement!]

A Combination Conclusion

Dense, productive training sessions are the key to greater strength and bigger muscles. Determine your goal and then pair effectively.  

Read more about Mega BCAA here.

Read more about BioQuest's MyoZene here.

Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.