T Nation

Prowler vs. Complexes


I am not using your layer system because I can only hit the gym 4 out of every 8 days. Instead, I'm doing the 5/3/1. I'm doing snatch pulls before deadlift on deadlift day. I'm doing cleans before squats on squat day. During the summer I typically work on my conditioning while maintaining my lifts. I've been pushing the prowler after my lower body days.

Could I/Should I substitute some of the complexes you've mentioned in another thread instead of the prowler. Maybe even use them instead of my other accessories i.e. Snatch, Deadlift and then complex and then be done? On a scale of 0-10 my level of conditioning is probably at a 2 or 3 right now so nearly anything will be an improvement...
Thank you for your time.


Understand that you really cannot compare complexes to prowler pushing. Complexes are more technically demanding and involve more muscle groups. If you are not at least decently efficient at the olympic lift variations complexes might not be the best option in your case. Why? Because if your conditioning level os so bad then you will have a hard time maintaining good form on the complex when fatigue sets in.

Complexes are more effective that prowler pushing for building muscle mass and thus changing body composition. But if your conditioning level and technical efficiency is too low, they are a bad choice of exercise.


Thanks Christian. I am pretty efficient at the Olympic lifts but my condition IS low. I'll likely bring up my level of conditioning with the prowler to begin with and then switch to the complexes.


Good idea. Or start muscle-building complexes instead of metabolic conditioning ones (roughly 3-5 total reps... for example 1 power clean, 1 push press, 1 split jerk, 1 front squat, 1 thruster would be 5 reps).


Understood. Thank you very much for the guidance!


One more item of clarification: When you say to use muscle building complexes do you mean to stay in the Hypertrophy zone of the following complexes? Or do you mean a different set up completely?

"1) The Bear (1 power clean, 1 front squat, 1 thruster/push press, 1 back squat, 1 BTN thruster/push press)
Strength & power: 70-80% of push press for 1 or 2 reps
Hypertrophy: 50-70% of push press for 2-3 reps
Metabolic conditioning: 40-60% of push press for 4-7 reps

2) Super Bear (1 squat clean, 1 thruster/push press, 1 back squat, 1 snatch push press, 1 overhead squat)
Strength & power: 70-80% of push press for 1 or 2 reps
Hypertrophy: 50-70% of push press for 2-3 reps
Metabolic conditioning: 40-60% of push press for 4-7 reps

3) Klokov complex (1 deadlift, 1 clean, 1 paused front squat, 1 push press, 1 split jerk)
Strength & power: 70-80% of push press for 1 or 2 reps
Hypertrophy: 50-70% of push press for 2-3 reps
Metabolic conditioning: 40-60% of push press for 4-7 reps

4) Klokov snatch complex (1 snatch-grip deadlift, 1 snatch high pull from hang, 1 power or muscle snatch, 1 snatch push press, 1 overhead squat)
Strength & power: 70-80% of power/muscle snatch for 1 or 2 reps
Hypertrophy: 50-70% of power/muscle snatch for 2-3 reps
Metabolic conditioning: 40-60% of power/muscle snatch for 4-7 reps

5) Klokov snatch complex advanced (1 snatch-grip deadlift, 1 snatch high pull from hang, 1 snatch, 1 bottom snatch press, 1 overhead squat)
Strength & power: 70-80% of snatch for 1 or 2 reps
Hypertrophy: 50-70% of snatch for 2-3 reps
Metabolic conditioning: 40-60% of snatch for 4-7 reps

6) Canadian Bear (1 clean-grip muscle snatch, 1 military press, 1 push press, 1 back squat, 1 BTN push press)
Strength & power: 70-80% of military press for 1 or 2 reps
Hypertrophy: 50-70% of military press for 2-3 reps
Metabolic conditioning: 40-60% of military press for 4-7 reps

IMPORTANT: One rep is doing all the sequence once. So if you have 3 reps you do not do (for example) power clean, power clean, power clean, front squat, front squat, front squat, etc. you do all the sequence once, then start over again a second time then a third time. "


Start by doing each sequence/complex only once (strength & power)... after 2-3 weeks go up to 2-3 for 2-3 more weeks then you'll be able to go up to the met con level


Gotcha. I would likely drop or sharply decrease any accessory movements because I'm adding these complexes after my main movements right?




CT - could you talk more about your leg training. You mentioned in the past that doing explosive jumps preserved mass/definition in your legs despite no squatting. I've basically focused on snatch grip high pull, bench press, and gymnastics work last 6 months and don't care much for squatting any more. My goal is to just have very defined quadriceps (cut, not turnip/bulky) - can various sprint, jump, HIIT, olympic lift complexes create this? Or must we do A2G front squats/backsquats? Thanks...


Well consider this:

1It IS true that I maintained definition and most size while doing olympic lifts and jumps (loaded and unloaded) but...

1) I had a lot of mass in my legs from years of daily squatting as an olympic lifter. I find that muscle mass gained through VERY frequent training over a long period of time is more "stable" (lasts longer despite little training) than regular less frequent lifting.

2) I certainly didn't gain more size or strength even though the legs looked good.

3) I did lose strength. I got back to squatting this year and my squats and front squat strength were down a lot.

4) At one point leg strength will become a limiting factor for progress in movements like the high pull and olympic lifts and to solve the issue, direct leg strength work is a must.

5) I stopped squatting (and most quads-dominant leg work) mostly because of knee pain. Turns out that as soon as I started squatting regularily it went away!

6) I am now squatting 3-4 times a week and if you include the front squat in my complexes, I'm squatting daily.

I think that no.4 will be especially important for you.

Now, you might not necessarily want to spend a ton of effort on leg work (after all you are a guy and few like to invest efforts in leg work). And getting bigger legs might not be a goal of yours. BUT if you want to maximize your performance (especially on the olympic lifts and pulls) you WILL have to do some loaded leg work, there is no way around it.

Now, here are three solutions for people who do not like to train legs:

  1. Use a Verkhoshansky-like approach of concentrated loading. Concentrated loading refers to using blocks of training that are unidirectional, meaning that for 4-6 weeks you focus on doing a lot of heavy work for the legs then for 4-6 weeks you only do jumps then for 4-6 weeks you only do loaded or depth jumps.

  2. Include front/back squats in your complexes. I will post a video or one of my hockey player doing an olympic lifting complex designed to improve leg strength.

  3. Squat daily (yes that might sound contradictory)... 2 sets of 5 starting with 70% of your max and adding 5lbs weekly at the beginning of every workout and 1 set of 10 with 50% adding 5lbs weekly at the end of the workout. It quickly done, will not build tons of size but will gradually get your legs stronger and strong enough to perform well on the olympic lifts and pulls.


Regarding the above post, do you still consider trap bar deadlifts to be sufficient for max leg strength and size? (Combined with high pulls).



Do i gather that you are almost training full body everyday between push press, deadlift capacity and squats and olympic lifts? How has this effected you asthetically? I know you are very good at taking less than ideal exercises and methods and 'making them work' as such. Have you found that this new method is a way of 'making full body work' aside from the obvious gains in strength and goals?

Many Thanks


I never said that full body didn't work. I trained as an olympic lifter for 6 years, which is essentially full body training (on a sidenote, many coaches who make fun of full body training also praise olympic lifters which is kinda odd).


The Dead-Squat will allow you to build leg size and strength. But since I'm using the deadlift for strength-capacity work I wanted a different type of exercise. Furthermore, I find that someone with my leverages (short legs, long torso) probably respond better to squats when it comes to quads growth whereas someone with long legs will respond better to the dead-squat.


Cool, thanks!


Sorry, i should have phrased that better, i meant with regard to the layer system and rep schemes. I have been thinking about this for a while now and would like to give it a try. would you have 4 full body days consisting of deadlift capacity, Squats, and push press with a 5th/6th day for olympic lifting and accessory work e.g bench, dips etc. Would your squatting and benching follow more of a ramp to mx style scheme or do you in keep with layer rep schemes.

I know its a lot to ask at this early stage but anything would be brilliant.



Isnt that amazing how the squatting frequency makes the pain go away? it's like you gotta get the oil moving around to stay lubed.

  1. video would be awesome
    3.as i got older, i found the legs were the first to lose strength, far and fast. my sedentary career doesn't help. Whenever i started training again after my busy season was over, i always had to squat every day, little by little, just to be able to squat.

Also, i must say that the "deadlift friend or foe" worked very well for squats. It brought up my 1RM by 40pounds,and,More Importantly, I can now squat flatfooted all the way down at any given time. i haven't been able to do that in years. Even my straight bar double overhand grip Deadlift without straps went up by 20lbs. situps- i went from not being able to do 4 to doing 40 every day.. All from CT's coaching.
I have always believed frequency was essential to overall health, mobility, etc.. Over the years, i heard so much contrary to that. Then, i met CT. Frequency is "KING".(with appropriate loading applications, is Totally Awesome)

next up is the overhead squat.


I had the same experience.

Knee pain caused me to stop squatting, but then I believe my hips and ankles (ankles especially) tightened up once I stopped squatting. That made it harder than ever to get BACK to squatting because the tight ankle pulled on the knee and caused additional knee pain.

As soon as I started getting my ankle loose and squatting more frequently, my knee pain went away.


Thanks for the writeup coach! Keeping eye open for those hockey complexes...

I actually enjoy squatting but back squats kill my elbow and shoulder joints. I'm not a technique noob and maybe refinement will help but something about the sghp and bench frequency makes select joints more susceptible. And the cost/benefit of heavy back squat is just not favorable, espeically if it impacts next day's pressing/sghp work.

Front squats using straps are good but still awkward and probably has to be anatomically (throat pressure / keeping upper shelf). A buffalo squat bar would be amazing but my gym doesn't have that. Leg presses are boring and never did much for my development...

Definitely felt a captain upper body effect today on hill sprints. Legs felt light/spindly and I felt like a floating pec/lat ball