T Nation

Complex-Based Workouts


I have a question about complex-based workouts like Real Fast Fat Loss. See with these huge combo movements I can only use FAR lest weight than I could with each individual move, since one exercise will be a limiter (usually the shoulder exercise part of the complex). So I feel I'd never be lifting HEAVY the whole program. Is this a problem or is the goal simply to get HR up and weight doesn't matter?

Also, in CT's lactic acid sessions is the goal simply to elevate HR or is the burning feeling more important? I find my muscles can be burning but my breathing is not that heavy...

Finally, is it better to design a program with 1-3 full days devoted to complexes, or can one make the same progress by lifting heavy and following the heavy workout with 1 complex circuit (say about 7-8 min). What is the best format? Do the complexes only work if they are done for a consecutive amount of time? What is the min. time to make them effective?


  1. I had the same doubts when I first tried Afterburn II and at the beginning the complexes were hard but not brutal. Then I decided to ditch all the tempo nonsense and lift as explosively as possible Waterbury style. The difference was night and day. I could barely breathe after the first set, was visibly shaking after the second, and couldn't make it through the third. The presses were actually the easiest part of the whole thing (fewest muscle groups involved). The front squats are what killed me.

  2. If you aren't breathing heavily on a lactic acid session it usually means you aren't using enough weight. In GBC Polquin has athletes three circuits of:
    12 squats (at 12RM)
    Rest 60 seconds
    12 chins (at 12RM)
    Rest 60 seconds
    12 deadlifts (at 12 RM)
    Rest 60 seconds
    12 dips (at 12 RM)

notice the 12 @ 12 RM if you aren't breathing hard after each of those it isn't your max.

  1. You should always lift heavy when attempting fat loss. The heavy loading is very muscle sparring and should keep you from getting too catabolic.

That said, I prefer to do simple workouts on a diet. 10 sets of 3 on a large lift (squat, deadlift, push press, dip, etc.) then do the complexes, works like a charm. Tough though