T Nation

Success With Complexes?


I was first introduced to complexes by my crew crew coach last winter. He wasn't a big fan of focusing on powerlifting focused strength routines, because he feels they don't have much carryover to the boat.

However, I felt that his weight circuits weren't heavy enough to elicit much growth or increase in strength. We would generally do 9-10 sets of 6 exercises with 10 reps, but just use the bar. It wouldnt be until the last set or two that you'd feel anything, because of the low weight. I just kind of assumed they weren't too useful. However, now I've been doing some reading up on complexes (mostly the T-Nation articles by Alywn Cosgrove). They actually look pretty effective for getting a good dose of cardio and building strength.

Does anyone have experience implementing these into the training??


yea, but I use them in conjunction with a strength training program, not as a staple.



Talk to Alpha here, or go look at his log. He does his main lift + complexes/giant sets + conditioning and dude’s in SICK shape.


Complexes aren’t meant for you to get stronger, its a conditioning movement. Before I get flamed, I’m sure people get stronger. My sister has been doing complexes as a part of her training for close to 6 months now and has dropped significant bodyfat, and her conditioning has increased immensely. Start with the template on here.


I’m using complexes for conditioning and fat loss right now…seems to be working well.

But this is on top of a resistance training program…not in place of it.

I couldn’t imagine doing just complexes. I think your first instinct was correct.

Everything of Cosgrove’s on the subject that I’ve read was based on conditioning.


Sorry if I wasn’t exactly clear. I plan on sticking with a more traditional lifting plan for now as I bulk up. Then in a month or so I plan to cut out accessory exercises and do something like a main lift+some kind of conditioning circuit.

I’ll try and find Alpha’s log, as that sounds similar to my goals.


[quote]Hanley wrote:

Talk to Alpha here, or go look at his log. He does his main lift + complexes/giant sets + conditioning and dude’s in SICK shape.[/quote]

Thanks so much Hanley!

Yeah man, IMO for energy systems work complexes are hard to beat…I definitely don’t get stronger with them though…well, I guess maybe my heart does…

But since when did a heart help my dead lift go up? … Stupid heart…

If you want to see how I use them check out “Alpha’s work” in the log section…

Best of luck brother and thanks again Hanley


Mate, comlexes are good stuff, and can really tax your cardiovascular system as well as your muscular endurance. There was actually a european weightlifting coach who had his Oly lifters do complex work for conditioning (Javorek is his name - google him).

Complex + other cardio exercise in ‘rounds’ format is a good way to go; Alpha runs on the treadmill, I row or do wighted step-ups or skip. Some guys just rest; do one complex starting every two minutes, or similar.

And while Alpha makes a good point - his 1RM dead will probably not be affected by his cardio fitness, his 5RM might. More muscular endurance or work capacity often means an increased training intensity is possible. Cue big weights…