Spring is a good time to give that old, boring weight routine some new life.
One method that isn't used often enough is to chain exercises together into something called a complex.
Complexes are a great way to challenge the body's cardio system and balance. It also can help with recovery during weight lifting.
One way to make a complex is to perform a strength exercise followed by a power exercise, such as squats to squat jumps. Another way is to link one exercise to another to create a flow.
Both are great ways to shake up old routines, get creative in the gym and surprise muscles that are accustomed to specific training.
Warm up • Always warm up for a complex by doing the moves in the complex. If you plan to use weights, warm up with weights that are slightly heavier than the one you'll be using during your sets. Also, be familiar with the exercises so you can concentrate more on the flow and form than on how to do the move.
You can rest between the warm-up exercises, but you want to keep moving through the complex.
With a bar • One of my favorite series of exercises, which are done using a bar with weight, are done in this order: bent row - front squat - overhead press - front lunge - backward lunge.
For a bent row, stand bent over as if you are waiting to catch a softball or baseball, grasp the weight with your hands and row it to your chest, squeezing the shoulder blades together.
After the row, stand up in a front squat position and squat, adjust your grip if necessary then take the bar directly overhead into a press. Bring the weight down behind your neck and lunge forward, then lunge backward with the same foot. Rest and repeat with the other leg.
A good range is to complete 3-to-5 sets with 8-to-12 repetitions each.
Bodyweight complex • This series is designed to target many of the postural muscles of the back and core. It's a great to do when traveling because it requires no equipment and can be done in a small area such as a hotel room.
First, pushup to a side plank, hold for 15 seconds; do another pushup to a side plank on the other side, hold 15 seconds. Lower to ground in plank form, keeping elbows in and body in a strong, plank form. Don't let the back sway or pike!
Then perform three alternating superman exercises in which you raise and lower opposite arm and hand while keeping the neck relaxed and face looking down. After those, perform four scorpion kicks for each leg. Take one leg and bring it wide across the other leg in a kicking/whipping motion, much like a scorpion whipping its tail
Roll onto your back and perform eight reverse curls: tighten the lower stomach to the ground, lift your legs in a bent position and bring them to your chest, lower to the ground keeping that stomach tight. The low back shouldn't come off the ground. The slower you go on these the harder.
End the complex with 10 windshield wiper kicks. Start with legs together straight in the air while lying on your back, bring the legs down to one side then take them to the other side, mimicking a windshield wiping motion. One word of caution: this exercise puts an intense load on the spine so if you have any back injuries or your core is weak, skip this one.
A good range is to complete 3-to-5 sets with 8-to-12 repetitions each
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. E-mail her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com