Combination Training for Overall Fitness

At last the New Year is upon us!  It’s the opportunity we embrace every year to finally get back in shape.  While our ambition to make this year our best may be at a peak, the normal day to day grind still carries over into the New Year.  Many of us still have limited time due to work, family, and other obligations. And with so many areas of fitness to address it can be challenging to fit enough cardio, strength, flexibility, and core training in on a weekly basis.  Being efficient with our time at the gym is more important than ever.  The question is how?  By integrating it all into each workout session.  This workout style is also referred to as combination training.  The objective is to format the workout by using circuits that focus on each component in each training session. This style of workout is great because we end up spending less time in the gym while reaping all the same training benefits. Here is a breakdown on how to format an integrated training session.

Dynamic Warm Up

Dynamic warm up is the process of prepping the body for the demands of a workout. This is done by using active flexibility and movement patterns similar to the exercises that will be used during the workout.  Unlike traditional stretching, a dynamic warm up is performed by using opposing muscle groups and/or controlled momentum to take a joint/muscle through the full available range of motion.  This helps improve joint stability, increases body awareness, and helps raise the body’s core temperature, thereby decreasing risk of injury and improving workout performance.

Plyometric and Athletic Drills (Circuit 1)

Plyometric exercises include any movement that involve a rapid pre-stretch of a muscle and is immediately followed by a muscular contraction.  Examples of this would include throwing a medicine ball, jumping, or skipping.  These exercises are great for improving speed, strength, and the rate of muscle contractions.  Athletic drills are also included in this circuit.  They are similar to plyometrics with the exception that these drills are geared more towards locomotion.  The goal of athletic drills is to improve quickness, reaction time, and agility.  Athletic drills are challenging, fun, and a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness.  The plyometric and athletic drill circuit is usually done at the beginning of the workout. These exercises tend are the most demanding and are best performed earlier in the workout.

Balance and Strength (Circuit 2)

Balance enables a person to maintain their center of gravity during movement and in stationary positions. This can be the case during a sporting event or in simple day to day activities. Also, improving balance can help increase joint stability, improve posture, and help increase overall strength.  And best of all, balance exercises are easy to implement with traditional strength moves.  An overhead press can easily be performed on a stability ball, a single leg squat can replace a two legged squat.

For strength exercises you want to select exercises that challenge each of the primary movements of the human body.  This would include a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise, and a squat and/or lunge.  For added challenge and time-efficiency, multiple movements can be combined in one exercise.  An example would be a dumbbell squat with a bicep curl to an overhead press.

Core (Circuit 3) 

The core consists of all the muscles that connect into the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.  In other words, all the muscles of the trunk and pelvis.  The core plays a major role in helping us maintain stability during functional movements and is a key component in reducing the risk of injury.  In general, core movements should consist primarily of rotation, extension, and isometric holds.  Movements that emphasize flexion movement similar to a crunch should be used in moderation.

Flexibility Cool down 

Cool down should consist of at least 5-10 minutes of static stretching and/or self-myofascial release (SMR).  Static stretching is the process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for between 20-60 seconds. This will help reset the length of the muscles that were worked and help maintain and improve mobility.  SMR involves applying pressure to the muscle by using a bio-foam roller and can help eliminate adhesion/knot build up due to training.  Slowly roll along your muscles until a “tender point” is located. Rest on the tender point for 30-60 seconds or until there is a 75% reduction in pain felt.

Please refer to the sidebar for a sample workout and/or check out the video link for demonstrations of the following workout.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 16 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or


Integrated Strength & Conditioning Workout

Dynamic Warm up (1 set x 10 reps)

  • Leg Swings
  • MB Reverse Wood Chops
  • T-Rotations
  • Lunge w/twist
  • Cat/Cow Stretch

 Plyometric & Athletic Drills (2-3 Sets x 5-10 reps)

  • Squat Jumps
  • MB Chest Pass
  • Lateral Shuffle
  • Pro Agility Drill

 Strength & Balance (2-3 Sets x 12-20 reps)

  • Single Leg Squats
  • Split Lunge w/cable row
  • Pushups
  • TRX Rear Fly

 Core (2-3 Sets x 15-20 reps)

  • Standing Torso Rotations
  • Plank
  • Cobra


  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Hip/Glute
  • Hip Flexors
  • Chest
  • Lats/Upper Back
  • Low Back