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The balanced body: movement pairs

The right exercise combinations make for an efficient session that guarantees results.

It has been well established that diversifying your workout is key. It’s only through hitting every muscle group from every angle that you can develop a body that both looks and actually is completely balanced. But while the theory is simple, putting the idea into practice can be a bit more complicated, making it tough to organize your workout. It's time to move beyond the old thinking of "upper body days" and "lower body days" and adopt a new mentality to speed results: working in pairs of antagonistic movement patterns, or types of motions. When teamed up, these seemingly opposing exercises become powerfully complementary.

To develop these perfect pairings, we enlisted Equinox’s own dynamic duo: group fitness creative managers Lisa Wheeler and Lashaun Dale. “The magic in these combinations is that either the front body is working crazy hard while the back body is fascilitating or vice versa,” says Dale, “The agonist and antagonist are working together, and being worked in two different ways. Any time you can work a muscle — or in this case a whole chain of muscles — in multiple ways, you’re going to target that muscle or chain of muscles much more effectively than if you were only strengthening from one angle.”

The first pairings: compression/expansion and push/pull. Click through the slideshow below to see Joseph Goode, an Equinox trainer from our West Hollywood club, model the exercises. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps alternating moves in each pair. Come back each Monday for the next 4 weeks for a new set of pairings.

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  • Compression: <br/>Ball Slam A<br>

    Compression: <br/>Ball Slam A<br>

    Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding a medicine ball in both hands, arms extended overhead with elbows slightly bent, keeping eyes on ball and abs engaged (as shown).

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  • Compression: <br/>Ball Slam B<br>

    Compression: <br/>Ball Slam B<br>

    Throw ball at ground as hard as you can, exhaling on the exertion (as shown). Squat to retrieve ball and return to start. Repeat. Do 10-15 reps. 

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  • Expansion: <br/>Ball Throw A<br>

    Expansion: <br/>Ball Throw A<br>

    Start in deep squat position holding ball with both hands in front of body, elbows bent about 90 degrees, keeping abs engaged and back flat (as shown).

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  • Expansion: <br/>Ball Throw B<br>

    Expansion: <br/>Ball Throw B<br>

    Drive hips forward to stand, rising onto balls of feet as you throw ball behind you overhead (as shown). Retrieve ball, then return to start and repeat. Do 10-15 reps.

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  • Pull: <br/>TRX Row A<br>

    Pull: <br/>TRX Row A<br>

    Anchor TRX and hold handles with both hands, palms down, arms extended straight out in front of you, heels on ground, leaning back until legs are almost straight and body is at least a 45-degree angle to ground (as shown).

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  • Pull: <br/>TRX Row B<br>

    Pull: <br/>TRX Row B<br>

    Engage abs and maintain flat back as you row, driving elbows back (as shown), then release to start for one rep. Do 10-15 reps.

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  • Push: <br/>TRX Press A<br>

    Push: <br/>TRX Press A<br>

    Stand with back to TRX, feet about hip-width apart holding handles in either hand, palms down, elbows bent 90 degrees, leaning forward onto balls of feet, keeping back flat (as shown).

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  • Push: <br/>TRX Press B<br>

    Push: <br/>TRX Press B<br>

    Engage abs and press arms forward until straight, keeping back flat (as shown), then return to start. Do 10-15 reps.

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