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Complexes: Rest and Weight?

Question on complexes

I’ve worked my way down from a 60 sec break between sets to 30 secs over a period of a month. Would it be better to keep at 30 secs and then start increasing weight whenever possible, or go back to 60 secs with higher weight?


I’ve been dieting since June 18th. For the first 2 months I was content losing weight just through dieting (no workout or cardio) but added in complexes after those 2 months. I’ve lost 17lbs so far and am pleased with progress. Disclaimer: very weak and haven’t been in a gym in many a year.

Barbell complexes:

RDL 10 reps

BB rows 10 reps

Squat 10 reps

Step ups 5 reps per leg

30 secs break. 7 sets. If I complete this, I’ll add the smallest denomination of weight that I can. Exercises selected to avoid current injury.

For fat loss, you’d play with the rest periods and volume. Increasing the weight with longer rest usually reduces the conditioning effect and increase the strength-building benefits which, while useful, don’t seem to be your current goal.

But really, it sounds like you’re going way too light for now if you can get 7 sets of 10 reps on each exercise. Complexes, by definition, need to avoid muscular failure on each set, so you’re probably using a 15ish rep-max. Add a few pounds, something that you could barely get for 1 set of 10 or 12, and then do sets of 5 or 6 reps throughout the complex.

That’s sort of a best of both worlds. You’re using a heavier weight, which is a greater overall stimulus and it lets you “restart” the program with longer rests and run through it shaving down the rest periods.

What injury are you working around? Switching the exercises is another way to add variety, particularly if you put in more upper body stuff to get a total body training effect.

Tons of articles talk about how to program complexes, this one from Alwyn Cosgrove, this one from Dan John, and this one from Ben Bruno are top choices.

FWIW, Wil Fleming talked about heavy complexes here.

I have both shoulders impinged, so most upper body lifts are out, this includes multiple cleans, although I do so to get from bb rows to squats (once is better than 10 reps).

I’ve been reading and found this article

So I can try some of these and take out anything that impacts my shoulders. I’ll try to increase the load and keep to 60 secs, slowly working up when possible.

Squat form is another big issue (my body is all out of whack!) so I do another drill with db’s with reverse lunges and a modified sprinter lunge to help target the glutes and some unilateral work.

I’m looking to start a workout routine geared towards postural corrections and helping to move with better form, which will eventually lead to a strength focused routine. This can be done alongside complexes.

Can you use dumbbells? Or even one dumbbell?

Then definitely keep an eye on it during the complexes. Form very often gets sacrificed for speed and intensity.

For sure. Posture stuff works well with higher frequency. A little daily work goes a long way.