Killer Complex Workout For Rapid Results

by FitStaff

When it comes to jacking up our metabolism and burning massive amounts of calories one of the great tools in our training arsenal is the complex.

kettlebell complex workout

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A complex gives us a lot of flexibility in our program.

It is a very efficient and effective way to train.

And it can also be done in minimal space and little equipment.

Let’s take a look at what we mean by a complex.

What Is A Complex?

    1. A complex involves two or more exercises.

    2. There are no rest periods between the different exercises.

    3. The training load is the same for each exercise.

This makes the workout easier from an equipment and time perspective – you don’t need multiple dumbbells, barbells, sandbags, or kettlebells – and if you have only one of something, you don’t need to change the weights.

It’s also much easier if you are doing this workout in a crowded gym, unlike a lot of circuit training workouts.

A complex can be designed or modified for your specific goals, whether it’s improved conditioning for a sport, fat loss or even muscle building.

What Equipment Is Needed
For Complex Training?

You only need one piece of equipment to perform complexes, such as a single…

  • Barbell
  • Dumbbell
  • Kettlebell
  • Sandbag

How Do You Progress With Complexes?

There are three main ways in incorporate progression into complex training programs.

  • Increase the number of exercises within the complex
  • Increase the density of the workout by doing more work in the same (or less) amount of time
  • Increase the intensity of the workout by increasing the load used or by exercise selection

We’re going to go into a lot more detail on progression in a future article.


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While hardcore workouts that fall under metabolic conditioning, metabolic resistance training, high intensity interval training, etc. are crucial to getting great results, going all out, all the time is a bad idea.

Even interval training programs need built in progressions to get real, sustainable results!

I love challenge workouts like the Kettlebell 300 but you can’t do them all the time if you want to continually make improvements.

By the way, the 300 Kettlebell Challenge could easily be tweaked to make it a productive kettlebell complex workout by changing up the reps and making it work with one kettlebell instead of three or four kettlebells.

What Are The Different Types of Complexes?

Well ShapedThere are really two types of complexes that you can use in your workout program.

They are…

    Sequence
    Succession

What The Heck is a Sequence Complex?

Great question! With a sequence complex, you only perform a single repetition for an exercise, moving from one exercise to the next in the complex in this manner. You then do so for a set number of rounds.

For example, if the complex is 5 reps per exercise but it’s performed in sequence fashion, you’ll complete one rep of each exercise and you’ll do so for five total rounds.

It might look like this:

Perform each exercise for one rep.

    Dumbbell Push Press (L)
    Dumbbell Push Press (R)
    Goblet Squat
    Goblet Reverse Lunge (L)
    Goblet Reverse Lunge (R)

Perform for five total rounds without stopping or putting the dumbbell (or kettlebell) down.

With a succession complex, you’ll complete a set number of reps for each exercise before moving on to the next exercise in the complex.

Perform each exercise for five reps before moving to the next exercise.

    Dumbbell Snatch (L) x 5
    Dumbbell Snatch (R) x 5
    Goblet Squat x 5
    Goblet Reverse Lunge (L) x 5
    Goblet Reverse Lunge (R) x 5

Some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind include:

The training load you use should be determined based on the weak link of the complex, ie, which exercise is the weakest?

You wouldn’t use your typical squatting load if you had curls in your complex! Actually, wouldn’t isn’t the correct word. In this case, it would be couldn’t!

Following on that idea, you’ll want to put your weaker exercises earlier in the complex.

This is also true of higher skill moves. You don’t want high skill moves like the Olympic lifts at the end of a tough complex.

Understand how exercises flow together. If you’re using a barbell, you don’t want to go from the back squat to the bent over row to the good morning.

There isn’t a natural flow to this pattern as you have to move the barbell back and forth from behind your neck.

The flow of different exercises in a complex is one of the reasons the kettlebell is such a fantastic tool for this style of training.

It takes some thinking and planning to put together a proper and effective training complex but even within the rules, there are an endless number of variations you can use within your program.

Complexes are a great way to make your workouts more efficient and effective. They can be tweaked and designed for strength, metabolic conditioning, cardio, muscle building and fat loss.

kettlebell complex workoutHere’s a Kettlebell Complex that I really like:

    Kettlebell Snatch (R) x 5
    Kettlebell Push Press (R) x 5
    Kettlebell High Pull (R) x 5
    Goblet Squat x 10
    Kettlebell Snatch (L) x 5
    Kettlebell Push Press (L) x 5
    Kettlebell High Pull (L) x 5
    Goblet Alternate Reverse Lunge x 10 (5 per side)

Rest 60 to 120 seconds

Perform 2 to 4 rounds (also may depend on whether this is your entire workout or part of a larger workout).

If you want to work your core a little more, add some explosive work, improve your coordination or just feel a little more like an athlete, try throwing a hard knee of front kick as an add on to each rep of the Goblet Alternate Reverse Lunge.

You know, just for fun!

No matter what your goal, you’ll want to give complexes a try as part of your training program!

We’ll take a look at how you can change complexes to tailor them toward your individual goals.

We’ll also go into more detail on progressing these workouts in a future article.

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Gregg Gillies is a Certified Metabolic Trainer and author of the 5 star rated book, Flat Belly Blueprint, available for $2.99 (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. He’s the creator of Advanced Arm Training and has contributed to programs like Underground Chest Training Connect with Gregg on Google Plus and Facebook

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