T Nation

Barbell Complexes

I’m looking to try something new for conditioning and these look somewhat “fun” I guess you could say. Do they actually improve conditioning and burn some calories? My complex would be, push press, hang clean, bent over row, squat, and lunges.

[quote]SirTroyRobert wrote:
Do they actually improve conditioning and burn some calories?[/quote]
Yes and yes. They can be as hard or as easy as you want. By manipulating the load, volume, and lifting tempo to get varying levels of fat burning, cardio conditioning, strength, etc.

In addition to the great article JFG posted, check these:



The lunges will be the limiting factor. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s something to consider. If you want more lower body work, RDLs work really well in complexes. In what you listed, I’d probably throw them right after the cleans.

Also, for what it’s worth, I used Alwyn Cosgrove’s “Complexes for Fat Loss” program for a few weeks last summer. This was one of the workouts from the last week of the plan:


(last set starts around 10:00)

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
Also, for what it’s worth, I used Alwyn Cosgrove’s “Complexes for Fat Loss” program for a few weeks last summer. This was one of the workouts from the last week of the plan:


(last set starts around 10:00)[/quote]
Thanks for all this information. I’m going to incorporate this into my workout for conditioning.

Hi Chris,

Just wondering how effective the complex program was for you? And what way did you do it? Was that your only resistance training for that period - 5 days on then 2 days off each week?

I’ve been interested in running it for a long time and interested to know how it worked out.

Thanks

Michael

[quote]mhero wrote:
Just wondering how effective the complex program was for you? And what way did you do it? Was that your only resistance training for that period - 5 days on then 2 days off each week?

I’ve been interested in running it for a long time and interested to know how it worked out. [/quote]
Over the course of 4 weeks on the program, I lost about 4 and a half pounds total bodyweight, my waist measurement dropped around two inches, and no other measurements (arms/legs) changed significantly. In my book, bodyweight loss + reduced waist measurement + maintaining other muscle size and strength = productive plan.

I stuck to the four day a week plan laid out in the article:

The only addition I remember making was some low volume heavy lifting (a few sets in the 2-4 or 3-5 rep range) two days a week because, even with the focus on fat loss, I believe it’s important to still keep some kind of heavy work involved.

If you’re looking to do a longer fat loss plan and incorporate complexes as the main method of “cardio”, then I’d definitely consider something similar. Either starting the sessions with some heavy work and then getting into the complexes (almost like a “finisher” even though it’s the main focus) or alternating days of lifting and complexes (just be mindful of exercise overlap and recovery, since complexes are almost by-default full body workouts).

In Mass Made Simple, Dan John lists this complex:

deadlift
row
power clean
front squat
overhead press
back squat
good morning

Depending on the program phase, each movement is done for two or five reps, respectively. The latter SUCKS. It won’t be fun if it’s hard enough to be productive… But hey, it will be productive.

Thanks for your response Chris.

Sounds like very good results.

I’ve had a little template prepared on excel to do it for a while so I think I’ll definitely give it a four week run. I play amateur soccer so I would probably do it Mon-Thurs and then rest on Fridays as I play matches on Saturday.

Am currently about 2/3rds through NROL for Abs. Once I complete that I was planning to move onto Joe de Franco’s Built like a Badass program. That will take me up until the Christmas and New Year, so this could be a nice little program to run for January if Christmas is a little heavy.

Even for the four weeks I could start each session with a 5/3/1 to make sure I keep doing some heavy stuff in combination as you suggest.

Nighthawkz, I went through Mass Made Simple prior to starting the NROL prog I am on. I think I was a bit too conservative on the complexes in that program to really benefit from them, as I was always focused on the squats at the end! But I thought that was an excellent program. I heard him on a podcast recently saying he has been developing ‘Lean Made Simple’ which will also include high rep squats. I am hoping he publishes it to maybe try it out in the new year!

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
In Mass Made Simple, Dan John lists this complex:

deadlift
row
power clean
front squat
overhead press
back squat
good morning

Depending on the program phase, each movement is done for two or five reps, respectively. The latter SUCKS. It won’t be fun if it’s hard enough to be productive… But hey, it will be productive.[/quote]

I like this one. Just fearful of performing a shitty good morning at the end. Will definitely give it a try with manageable weight.

[quote]mhero wrote:
I play amateur soccer so I would probably do it Mon-Thurs and then rest on Fridays…[/quote]
I’d just be really on top of recovery if you’re going hard on complexes four days in a row. Like I said, there can be a lot of overlap between exercises and “bodyparts” worked. In that case, I’d either think about working in different rep ranges (3s, 5s, 8s, 10s, etc.) and/or different volume each day (like 3x6, 5x6, 5x4, 4x8) or rotate between a few different groups of exercises like mentioned in some of the earlier article links.

[quote]alpha_mike wrote:
I like this one. Just fearful of performing a shitty good morning at the end.[/quote]
Around 10:52 in the video above, I was doing good mornings as the last exercise. They didn’t feel terribly productive, just seemed like “something” to throw in at the end, and bending at the waist when fatigued was especially nauseating.

They’re also almost-certainly going to be the deciding factor in what weight you’ll use for the entire complex. All in all, while I have nothing but respect for Cosgrove and Dan John, they’re not high on my list of moves to include in a complex.

Regardless, give them a shot as-is and see how it goes. You can obviously tweak things as needed.

Many thanks Chris

I think in the past I’ve been guilty of doing too much training during the week to the detriment of my performance in matches on a Saturday.

I’m not really very experienced and I tend to just rely on programmes as written without tweaking.

So unfortunately I think this will have to be an experiment I run next May when the soccer season is over!

Michael

[quote]alpha_mike wrote:
I like this one. Just fearful of performing a shitty good morning at the end. Will definitely give it a try with manageable weight.[/quote]

Well, you’ll do them with a weight that you can overhead press 5x in a fatigued state. I found them to be the cherry on top if you do them properly because that means you’ll have to focus for another 15 seconds while you feel like going home.

[quote]alpha_mike wrote:

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
In Mass Made Simple, Dan John lists this complex:

deadlift
row
power clean
front squat
overhead press
back squat
good morning

Depending on the program phase, each movement is done for two or five reps, respectively. The latter SUCKS. It won’t be fun if it’s hard enough to be productive… But hey, it will be productive.[/quote]

I like this one. Just fearful of performing a shitty good morning at the end. Will definitely give it a try with manageable weight.[/quote]

I do Cosgrove’s Evil 8 (supposed to be 6/5/4/3/2/1 reps, 90 secs rest, but I do 7/6/5/4/3/4 and rest is down to 45 secs). He has Good Mornings at the end but it was too much fatigue for my lower back and I didn’t trust my form since speed is key (I’m trying to beat my prior time). So I do:

Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift
Bentover Row
Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Pushups x 10

I know pushups do not equal GMs, but I bang out 10 at the end of each set and the whole thing leaves me completely gassed.