A Barbell Complex Workout for Improved Fitness and Faster Fat Loss

by FitStaff

Okay, so what is a barbell complex workout?

barbell complex workout

A barbell complex is simply this, if you are unfamiliar with the idea:

Includes two or more exercises with the same piece of equipment (in this case a barbell) that uses the same load (weight on the bar) and perform each exercise for a set time or number of repetitions without putting the equipment down.

In other words, you go from one exercise to the next with ZERO rest and you don’t put down the bar.

A barbell complex is a type of circuit training workout but there is no rest between exercises and you use the same equipment and load throughout the round without putting the equipment down (except after the complex during your rest period if you are completing more than one round).

A complex can be performed with any piece of equipment, not just a barbell. You can utilize a kettlebell, dumbbells or even do a sandbag complex.

The barbell complex was popularized by former UFC champion Randy Couture, who used it to get into amazing shape for his MMA fights.

While Randy was training for strength, power, conditioning, quickness, stability, flexibility and endurance, a by product of his workout was a lean, muscular physique with low body fat levels.

Complexes are a great training protocol. They are very time efficient, for those that need to get their workouts in in short period of time. You’ll boost your cardio conditioning, increase your metabolism and burn up a lot of calories, while also building body shaping lean muscle mass.

There are a number of ways to progress using complexes.

  • You can increase the number of exercises in the complex
  • Jack up the intensity by increasing the load or changing the exercise selection
  • And one of my favorite training techniques – increase the density. In other words, do more work in the same amount of time (or less!).

Complex Types:

Succession: This is the type of complex mentioned above. You perform the number of reps or the specific amount of time for each exercise before moving on to the next.

If it’s a three exercise complex for 10 reps each, you complete 10 reps of exercise one, then 10 reps of exercise two and finish with 10 reps of exercise three.

Sequence: This type of complex is a little different and not one you see used as often as the succession technique.

With the sequence technique, you perform one rep of each movement all the way through the complex and then go back to the first exercise and do it again for rep number two until you hit the number of reps you are supposed to complete.

For example, you might use the kettlebell clean, push press and rack position squat for 8 reps each.

You would do one rep of the clean, one rep of the push press and one rep of the rack position squat and then go back to the clean and do that for 8 reps or rounds.

Simple Barbell Complex Rules

Obviously you must choose a weight based on the weakest move in the complex. If you’re including curls and squats in the complex you can’t base your load on your squat weight!

Don’t randomly throw exercises together and think you are doing complex training. It doesn’t work that way.

  • Put your weaker moves earlier in the complex.
  • Place explosive moves earlier in the complex.
  • Add in the higher skill moves earlier in the complex (you may be going balls to the wall with complexes but technique is ALWAYS important!).
  • Speed and power moves go early as well.

Like I said, there’s some thinking involved. You also want to consider the flow of the exercises as well so you don’t waste time and energy adjusting the barbell.

A clean flows right into a press.

You don’t want to go from a front squat to a good morning to a clean. Make sense?

Here’s a really good Barbell Complex Workout

Give the barbell complex (or kettlebell, dumbbell, sandbag, etc.) a try in your own workouts. I think you’ll like it!

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Gregg Gillies is a Certified Metabolic Trainer and author of the 5 star rated book, Flat Belly Blueprint, available for $4.99 (and instant download) on Amazon. He’s written hundreds of health and fitness related articles that have appeared on sites like Bodybuilding.com while also being published in the print edition of Ironman Magazine. Connect with Gregg on Google Plus and Facebook

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