T Nation

Complexes for Overall Fitness/Strength


Which kind of complex do y’all think would be better for, dare I say it, “functional” strength and some added size? Trying to add complexes into a total body routine to increase work capacity and conditioning while still getting some solid strength gains and adding some size.

Option 1: Heavy olympic complexes with rep ranges in the 5-7 area for time under tension to allow for size gains but without having to sacrifice the heavy weight for strength gains.

Option 2: Performing a strength move, followed by a strength explosion move, followed by a speed explosion move. So for example: Deadlift, kettlebell swing, broad jump. Or for a press day: bench, medicine ball chest throw, plyo push ups.

If I went with option 2 I understand it would not be in a total body format, which is ok, but is part of the reason I am struggling with choosing because I feel like a total body routine allows my body to work together as a whole unit more which I feel like is more…functional…Also if I did option 1, I would still add in strength exercises like squats, DL, bench, OH press, after the complexes each on a different day.Sorry for a lengthy post, trying to make my question as understandable as possible.


Do the complexes after your strength moves not before, they will totally murder it. You also prob won’t gain any strength or explosiveness from complexes, they’re rather for conditioning & fat loss. So IMO, i wouldn’t do option 2, medicine ball throws/jumps dont challenge me for conditioning. I like pairing loaded carries with prowler/sprinting or KB/ bodyweight exercises .


If you want to add strength and and size thru complexes, you are not doing the right program.

You either do a stand alone program (6 weeks to superhero for example) OR you add to your program for conditioning (Cosgrove Killer 8).

Your program is the meat of your “functional” strength and some added size.


Do you think there would be any effectiveness to gain strength and explosiveness if I did heavy simplified complexes like oly lifters train them? As opposed to something like crossfit complexes. And then adding in loaded carries and kettlebells at the end for conditioning and work capacity? And then make the strength portion at the start?

I guess the meat of the program would still be the complexes and strength training at the start though but maybe these kind of complexes would work better with it? Sorry for so many questions, been getting more and more into oly lifting but dont want it to turn into crossfit conditioning, versus strength and power.


In strongman they don’t have complexes, but medleys, which are usually very difficult and strength oriented.

Chain drag for 50 feet followed by farmers carry for 50 feet.

Atlas Stone to platform with increasing weight and lowering height. Stone 1 might be 150lbs at 72", Stone 2 might be 200 at 60 inches, Stone 3, 250lbs at 48", Stone 4 might be 300lbs at 36 inches.

Deadlifting medley
Sumo Deadlift, Axle Deadlift, trap bar deadlift, car deadlift, all for max weight.


Olympic lifters dont do their bulk work with complexes, maybe Klokov 's recent crossfit interest got you thinking into that. How efficient are you with the lifts? If not very, than your technique will break once you get tired and thats something not desired due to increased injury chances, faulty motor patterns etc.

If you still want to do heavy olympic complexes than give it a try, im sure it’ll give some hypertrophy. Perhaps coach Thib might give more insight if you post in his forum.


I’m fairly proficient in my technique, still working on minor technique fixes but I’ve been training the lifts for over a year but have never really made them the primary focus of my workouts, other than a 3 month cycle i ran about 6 months ago.

I’ve been reading a lot of Thib’s stuff and have pulled some ideas form it, but the main fuel for this fire came from an article/program by Wil Fleming. Attached below is that link, maybe that’ll give better specifics than I could explain.


Maybe add some short loaded carry medleys at the end of Fleming’s program 2 days a week? This threads taking a slight detour but I like it.



also check out Alphas earlier logs


Another option is circuits. I’ve been following Waterbury method for a while and a simple 3 exercise strength circuit with short rest intervals ticks all the boxes. I also do a strongman session once a week and love it.