Barbell, Kettle bell, and Dumbbell Complexes to Take Your Body
to a New Level of Hardness and Conditioning.
by Mike Geary
If you've been looking for a different
training technique to break out of a rut, eliminate the
boredom, and bring on new results, "complexes" may be just
what you've been looking for.
If you've never heard of "complexes" before, the basic
concept is that instead of repeating the same exercise for
multiple reps to complete a "set", you sequence one rep of
several different exercises right after one another and
repeat the sequence several times to complete a "set".
It's basically like performing a
routine, instead of just mindlessly performing a typical
This type of training
is excellent to work a huge amount of musculature in a
short amount of time, and definitely takes your workouts
to a whole new level of intensity.
The conditioning aspect of this type of training is
amazing, as you'll find yourself huffing and puffing
after repeating a sequence a mere two or three times.
If I had to venture a guess, I'd have to say that this type of
training probably elicits a good growth hormone response as
well, due to the large amount of full body work completed in
a given time period. But that's just my guess.
I like to incorporate about 5 exercises into my complexes.
Any more than that and you might start to forget what's next
in the sequence. Here's an example of a killer barbell
complex that really gets me fired up:
Example Barbell Complex
High pull from floor (explosive deadlift right into upright
row in one motion);
Barbell back to thighs, then hang clean (explosively pull
bar from knees and "catch" the bar at shoulders);
Barbell back to floor, then clean & jerk;
Barbell back to thighs, bend over, then bent over row;
Barbell back to thighs, then finish with Romanian deadlift
Use a weight that you can still handle for your weakest lift
of the bunch, but keep it heavy enough to challenge you. Try
to repeat the sequence 2-3 times without resting... That's 1
set. You could progress over time on this routine by
increasing the amount of times you repeat the sequence in
each set, or by adding sets on subsequent workouts before
eventually increasing the weight.
For example, say you completed the above complex with
155-lbs for 3 sequences per set for 3 sets in today's
workout. Next time you perform the workout, try to do
155-lbs for 3 sequences per set for 4 sets. Once you
successfully complete 5 sets with 155, increase the weight 5
or 10 lbs next time, and drop back to 3 sets. This is a
great way to make improvements over time, while cycling your
Now I'm going to show you a great kettlebell complex that
really kicks my butt. If you don't have a kettlebell, you
can use a dumbbell, but I'd highly recommend picking
yourself up a kettlebell... very convenient to have around
when you want to bang out a quick intense workout at home
without going to the gym.
I've been training with kettlebells for a little over a year
now, and can definitely say that they've dramatically
improved my strength, body composition, and overall physical
capabilities. If you're not familiar with kettlebells, they
are an old eastern European training secret that has just
started to take the US by storm over the last few years.
Many elite athletes are using kettlebells as their preferred
training tool for serious results. Learn more info and pick
up one of your own body-hardening kettlebells here.
I'd recommend just starting off with one bell and learn all
of the single kettlebell drills first, before delving into
the double-bell drills. Just one kettlebell coupled with
some bodyweight exercises can literally be enough to
comprise your own home gym, without any other equipment
necessary. Or a kettlebell can just be a great alternative
workout to incorporate into your routines once or twice a
week. Either way, it opens up a whole new world of training
Example Kettlebell Complex
One arm swing
One arm snatch, keep the bell over head;
One arm overhead squat;
Bell back down to bottom, then one arm high pull;
Bell back down to bottom, then one arm clean & press
As with the barbell complex, repeat the sequence (without
rest) 2-3 times with each arm. That's one set...and one hell
of a killer set at that! Try increasing from 3 to 4 to 5
sets on subsequent workouts with a given weight before
increasing your sequence reps. If you're not drenched in
sweat with your heart beating out of your chest after that
complex, you either went too light, or you are a mutant
Since dumbbells are more accessible to most people than
kettlebells, now I'll show you how to put together a good
Example Dumbbell Complex
Upright row with each arm separately then both together
Front lunge with one leg, then the other
Back lunge with one leg, then the other
Curl to overhead press
Keep dumbbells at shoulders and squat
Again, the same type of sequencing and progressions
explained with the barbell complexes work great with the
dumbbell complexes. I think a great strategy is to alternate
barbell complexes on one day with kettlebell or dumbbell
complexes on alternative training days.
For example, you could do barbell complexes Monday, K-bell
or D-bell complexes Wednesday, and back to barbell complexes
on Friday. Maybe hit some sprints and bodyweight drills on
Saturday; then Monday would be K-bell or D-bell complexes
again, Wednesday would be barbells again, and so on.
Give this program a try for a month (if you dare), and you
will be one hardened individual!
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Mike Geary is a fitness coach, nationally certified
personal trainer (CPT), the author of the
internationally popular book -
Truth about Six Pack Abs, and a contributing writer
for Weider Publications, which publishes Men's Fitness,
Muscle & Fitness Magazine, and others.
here to read more on the truth about getting
amazing "six pack abs"