Complex Results – Guidelines
Stronger, fitter, leaner in the least amount of time possible. Sound too good to be true? It’s not, thanks to the decades-old training technique called the “complex”. A complex is two or more exercises with the same free weight equipment (in this case a barbell) and the same load done consecutively for reps without setting the weight down.
- Choose the Right Weight – You will be using the same weight for all exercises in each complex, so make sure it is not too heavy. The ideal weight is one that allows you to barely complete all prescribed reps on your weakest exercise in the complex.
- Get Your Order Right – Each exercise in a complex should flow right into the next, which is why many complexes start at the floor 9deadlift) and end overhead (push press). When in doubt, use this bottom-up sequence. And don’t forget that hang cleans are always a good middle-transition piece.
- Get Your Order Right (Part 2) – If there is one exercise in a given complex that is holding you back from hitting prescribed rep counts, consider doing it first when you are fresh, even if that means violating the previous guidelines. On the flip side, if one exercise figures to be way easier than all the others do it last, when you are most fatigued, to make sure it is challenging.
- Feel Free to Vary Rep Count – If you are much stronger on one exercise than another in a complex (for example, you can probably squat considerably more than you can bent-over row), program more reps for the bigger move. In the case of squats and rows, do roughly double the reps on squats 910 squats, five rows or eight squats, four rows).
- Be Flexible with Complexes – Five rounds of a brutal barbell complex makes for a great stand-alone workout. But complexes also meld nicely with traditional straight-set training and other types of circuits. Do a conditioning complex as a capper after, say, a 5/3/1 strength workout, a strength or Olympic-lifting complex before another type of conditioning workout, or double up and do a strength complex, followed by a conditioning one.
- Keep Complexes in Check – Barbell complexes tend to be high-intensity endeavors, so don’t go overboard with this training style. Treat it as HIIT cardio – do no more than two to three demanding complexes per week. Exceed that and you are asking to be over trained.