Marta Montenegro: Two Better Than One

How many times are you at gym and have to guess what to do next? Perhaps you did the leg press and then jumped into a lat pull down without any other reason other than the lat machine was next to the leg press. Of course, any exercise is better than none. But there are some exercises that when coupled together will actually multiply your fitness, sports, and health goals.

1. Push-Ups + Upright Row = Ready to Show Off the Arms

When shaping the upper body the push-up is one of the best exercises to build muscle and tone, mainly for the pectoral and the triceps muscles. However, in a study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, some other back and shoulders muscles are also recruited according to the hand position, such as shoulder width apart and/or wider or narrower than shoulder width apart. Other muscles like the biceps and trapezius are relatively inactive though.

But if you pair this gold standard upper move with a slightly narrow grip up-right row—hands shoulders width apart—you will tackle the two muscles left behind in the push-ups (biceps and trapezius) to round up a ripped torso ready to show off this summer.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

2. Front Lunge  + Split Jumps  = Prevent Osteoporosis

In a study published in the Physiology & Biochemistry Journal, 51 untrained women, aged 20-35 years, were put in two different types of workouts: high-impact aerobics and strength training. After 12 months only the ones that performed the high impact aerobics resulted in significant increase of bone mass.

Dynamic, high intensity loading to yourskeletal system is vital. Physical activities that

require jumping, sprinting, and agility have proven to increase bone mass while exercise like swimming and cycling have the least affect on bone health. [NOTE: Don’t do these exercises if you already have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Still exercise is a must, you should make some modifications to do it safely.]

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

3. BB Pullover  + DB Walking  Lunges = Increase Flexibility

If you think the only way to improve your flexibility is static stretching exercises (reach for your toes!), think again. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that full range resistance training exercises can improve flexibility as well as a typical static stretching program—and even improve strength better than stretching.

Do these two exercises for 3-4 sets, vary the reps through the weeks anywhere from 8-15 reps. Make sure the weight adapts to the reps—the lower the reps, the higher the load. These  two exercises were part of the 12 exercises that were used in the study’s program. (In particular, these two moves force you to fully stretch the shoulder joint and the pectoralis muscles.) Flexibility is joint specific, which means you will improve the joints you are working.

4. Narrow Squat  + DB Lunge  to Bicep Curl = Cycling to the Tour the France

Endurance aficionados still fear weight training because they think bulky muscles will hinder their performance. Nevertheless, if you want to improve your cadence while reducing the physiological demands—i.e., get faster and tire less—a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, shows that adding a weight lifting workout to your usual endurance cycling training—four legs exercises, two times a week—does a better job than the usual endurance training  (long duration, low intensity) workout.

Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website,, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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