Exercises Like the Bear

I added the exercise “the Bear” to my workout and I have to say that I love it. Does anyone know of any other exercises that are like hits, or can point me to any articles on T-Nation that describe more exercises like this?

I came up with one that was pretty bitchin, it’s a power clean, front squat, overhead press, overhead squat, lower bar behind head, do a back squat, press it up, overhead squat, front squat, drop bar. that’s 1 rep.

Do a that a few times, then proceed to puke

I was also doing a snatch, followed by an overhead squat, front squat, drop bar.

Be creative, come up with more stuff. Most of it wears you out pretty good, and overhead squats are a bitch, so start light on’em, that way when/if you fall over, it’s not as painful!

Check out the Javorek Complex series at:

I second the Javorek Complexes.

I’m a little confussed… would you perfer Javorek’s routine in one single fashion, with the same weight for each exercise (cause surely if you used a differnet weight you’d need to take time to changes weights, etc…). Can someone help. Thanks.


Yeah, same weight for all exercises. That means that depending on your strength in the individual exercises, the weight might be “light” for one exercise and “heavy” for another.

I’ve ran into this and already have your solution: for the “light” exercises, focus on form and getting a good contraction…for the “heavy” exercises do the opposite - treat it as more of a power movement (just don’t get sloppy).

Best Wishes.

One other thing mate…what kinda results have you acheived doing this? And how often do you perform this kind of workout? Cheers again.

Complexes like Javorek’s and the Bear are conditioning circuits, and are used for GPP. You will not build mass, or gain much strength, with these circuits unless you are new to weights. They will however, build your work capacity so that you will be able to handle the workout volume needed to develop mass and strength.

Aren’t cleans and snatches complex? And yet according to Ian King these build mass? Though i can see after reading some of the exercises why they wouldn’t be able to build all that much mass, though i’m sure they’d be great for females.

[quote]Rick Jakubowski wrote:
Complexes like Javorek’s and the Bear are conditioning circuits, and are used for GPP. You will not build mass, or gain much strength, with these circuits unless you are new to weights. They will however, build your work capacity so that you will be able to handle the workout volume needed to develop mass and strength. [/quote]


I agree with you, although CT mentioned n his Black Book that the Javorek complex will result in lots of muscle gain. Don’t have the page cite, but it’s in the first few paragraphs of his 12-week Oly program. I think the reason for this might be that there is significant overlap in the muscle groups used in the complexes, combined with a high level of “density.” I’m just guessing here, though.

Javorek has commented that his complexes build “harmonious musculature.” The 3-rep version known as Barbell Complex #2 (which is just #1 except you do 3 reps per exercise rather than 6) might result in a bit more muscle mass gain since you can use a heavier weight. And I don’t think you’re limited in the number of reps you can do - if you can do more reps on a particular exercise within the complex, go ahead.

Like you, I generally treat Javorek’s complexes as GPP and any other benefits I just consider icing on the cake.

Yes, cleans and snatches are COMPLEX MOVEMENTS, this refers to the necessity to utilize multiple joints and in different planes in order to execute the movement. I might have confused you by referring to the Bear and Javoreks as complexes, because the terms, circuits and complexes, are interchangeable in some literature.

Complex movements are considered one exercise, one utilizes near maximal or maximal loads for that exercise so increases in strength and mass will result; their ratios depending on volume and nutrition.

Complexes/circuits/(giant sets) are multiple exercises performed in sequential order; in the case of the Bear and Javorek one utilizes the same weight and number of repetitions for all exercises in the sequence, so the weight is limited by the weakest link, because of this increases in strength and mass are limited.

Do not get me wrong the Bear and Javorek complexes/circuits have a place in the training programs of those who seek strength and mass. Work capacity increases will have a positive impact on both.

I somewhat generalized in this thread for the sake of brevity, but yes the Bear and Javorek can be modified from their standard forms in order to improve their mass and strength gain benefits.

One of the ways, as you suggested, is to vary the reps of the various exercises. The problems I see with this are:

  1. CNS overload - Adjusting the reps dramatically increases the volume, making over training an issue.

  2. Mental fatigue - By using the same rep scheme through the whole complex/circuit you ensure that some portions are easier then others. This “wave effect” reduces anxiety during and prior to the workout, i.e. it is easier to grind out the 10th rep of a military press knowing that you will be able to “rest” by immediately doing 10 squats, then it would be anticipating doing 20 squats.

Another way to adjust the programs would involve setting up multiple bars, with varying weights; this is often impractical in a public gym.

I remember CT’s comment in the Black Book referring to the Javorek Complex helping with mass gain. OLers usually train by executing singles with very little concentration on the eccentric portion of the movement; this promotes neural efficiency, but there are better ways to add mass. IMO the Javorek Complex takes the OLer out of their element and adds the volume needed to promote growth.

While it may appear that, I am waffling, by arguing the against the efficiency of complexes/circuits for making strength and mass gains, and then saying that OLers can gain mass by incorporating them into their training, remember that it is relative. A conventional (T-mag style not Men’s Fatness) bodybuilding would net more mass gains for Joe OL, but he would have to sacrifice time dedicated to his OL routine, thus possibly loosing OL strength/technique. The Javorek complex requires a short span of time, so very little if any OL training is lost.

One aspect of complex/circuit training I have not covered is hormonal release. This is only my opinion, but I think that physical demand has a positive effect on one’s hormone release. This of course is a fine line, because since I think this may be similar to the fight, or flight type effect, over doing it could have a negative effect by releasing cortisol.

This subject is fasinating to me…