The Barbell Complex: a masochistic – yet effective – way to burn bodyfat and improve your conditioning
Have you ever walked into the gym and wondered what you could possibly do in under 25 minutes that would allow you to work hard, sling some iron, and blast some serious bodyfat?
Ranking right up there with my infatuation for Mad Men and carrot cake, I simply can’t get enough of Barbell Complexes these days. Packaged neatly into a relatively short workout, it contains the magical trifecta of resistance training, interval work, and shocking your body with sweet new moves damn near every time you do it!
|Tip: colorful clothes make it less painful. #lookgoodplaygood|
“But… what is a Barbell Complex?”
A Barbell Complex is a modality of exercise that strings together a bunch of barbell exercises. You’ll complete all of the required reps for each exercise before moving on to the next, all without ever setting the bar down or resting between movements.
The Beauty of the Beast…
Versatility! There are days that I’ll just do a few sets of chins, Snatch or Clean and Jerk, and then use a heavier barbell complex for the remainder of my training, while on some days I’ll do a full strength training session and then use a lighter barbell complex as my conditioning work at the end.
- Your complex should flow together with smooth transitions in order to keep you working and safe. For example, you wouldn’t want to do conventional deadlifts, move into back squats, and then rows, because the barbell would be up, down, and all around which make the transitions a pain in the ass.
- Use basic common sense not to put exercises together that are very similar. For instance, do you really want to do overhead press and then push press and then split jerks? Only if you aren’t interested in lifting your arms the next day.
- No movement in your Complex should be an all-out grinder. If it is, you need to decrease the weight that you chose; don’t sacrifice good form. There is no such thing as a Max Effort Barbell Complex (insert obvious Crossfit jokes HERE).
- Most complexes start from the bottom (floor) and work their way up overhead, or onto the back.
- If you really want to push and use a heavier weight, you’re obviously going to need to back down your volume (reps/sets). If you opt for a lighter weight, you can up the ante a bit by increasing the reps and/or sets used.
Here are some options of barbell exercises for your Complex:
Just look at some of these juicy options that you have probably never thought of incorporating!
- Barbell thrusters (downright masochistic in a Complex. Consider yourself warned.)
- Front squats
- back squats
- front loaded reverse stepping lunges
- back loaded reverse stepping lunges
- stationary lunges
- Snatch grip deadlifts
- romanian deads
- Snatch grip RDLs
- single leg deads
- Pendley rows
- push press
- overhead press
- Good mornings
- Snatch balance**
- Split Jerks**
- Power Jerks**
- Hang Cleans**
- Power Clean**
** If you have never done Olympic style lifts before, a Barbell Complex isn’t the appropriate time to try. Leave them out until you’ve practiced enough to have good form seeing as how you’ll be fatigued and the reps will be higher in a Complex than what you’d normally do for those exercises. I love incorporating Cleans and Split Jerks into my Complex because the explosiveness adds a fun dimension to it.
Beware: may cause death… or worse
I am absolutely guilty of being overzealous with my rep/set schemes on a barbell complex, which have left me writhing around on the gym floor, screaming “Uncle!”.
Typically it’s safe to shoot for 4 – 6 exercises, with 5 – 8 reps per exercise, and 3 – 6 sets total.
In other words, don’t set up a barbell complex with 8 exercises, and expect to perform 10 reps of each, for a total of 10 sets, all with 90% of your 1RM. Easy killer.
Pick your poison
- Romanian deads x 5
- rows x 5
- overhead press x 5
- stationary lunges x 5
Repeat 3 – 6 times
– See 2:03 in the video –
Repeat 3 – 6 times
– See 3:13 in the video –
Repeat 3 – 5 times
– See 4:56 in the video –
Repeat 3 – 4 times
– See 6:18 in the video –