Harness the Power of Complex Training for an Explosive Breakthrough

Check out these two complex training workouts to gain explosive power and take your training to the next level.


The secret to gaining a step on a defender or adding pop to your swing is not just developing power, but finding the perfect blend of strength and speed, which is known as explosive power. And one of the most effective methods for developing explosive power is complex training.

Complex training is based on a scientific principle known as postactivation potentiation (PAP), which combines strength training with plyometrics to maximize muscle activation. Fully activated muscles can generate greater power and allow the body to train at higher levels, elevating the effectiveness of plyometric workouts.

To start your complex training, perform a strength exercise immediately following an explosive plyometric exercise. The best complex workouts use plyometric exercises that closely match the strength movement and that engage the same major muscle groups (see examples below).

For maximum effectiveness, your strength exercises should use 70 to 90 percent of your one-rep max weight. These loads produce just the right amount of force to activate muscles for the next movement. However, when beginning complex training, use lighter loads to perfect your technique before building up to more advanced workouts. Because complex training is so advanced, it's best suited for athletes who already have plenty of strength and experience with plyometrics. Beginners should only take part after building a solid foundation in these areas.

Finally, to get the most out of your complex training, execute every repetition with full effort to push the body past its limits. To maintain a high level of intensity throughout the workout, use low repetitions (two to five), high recovery intervals between sets (three to five minutes) and at least 48 hours of rest between complex workouts.

Upper Body Complex

Upper Body Complex

Lower Body Complex

Lower Body Complex

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Grant Geib is currently a strength and conditioning coaching assistant at the University of Tennessee. Previously, he worked as a performance coach at the Parisi Speed School. In 2009, he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Ohio Wesleyan, where played football and received the Wally Cross Award for athletic and academic excellence. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a master's degree in kinesiology in 2011.

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