Elite athletes, like UNC Tar Heel basketball players, work complexes into their training programs to simultaneously improve strength and conditioning in an incredibly efficient manner. A complex is a group of several demanding exercises performed in succession with no rest. Effective complexes target all large muscle groups in the body, usually alternating between them to allow one to recover slightly while the other is working. The continuous nature of a complex keeps the athlete’s heart rate elevated throughout the duration of the set and even beyond, simulating the demands of competition or a conditioning workout.
Complexes can be performed with a barbell, band, med ball or bodyweight, but each variation brings the same long list of benefits for athletes:
-Efficiently strengthens all major muscles in the body
-Improves conditioning and endurance with little space and time required
-Helps shed unwanted fat
-Improves mental toughness (a properly designed complex is not for the weak!)
The Tar Heels perform their go-to barbell complex (courtesy of team strength coach Jonas Sahratian) five times, resting 90 seconds between each complex.
High Pull x 6
Muscle Snatch x 6
Good Mornings x 6
Squat to Press x 6
Bent-Over Row x 6
When first incorporating complexes into your training, consider using only your bodyweight. That’s how Sahratian welcomes incoming freshmen to his world of healthy, effective pain and gain in the weight room. Check out his bodyweight complex here.
For other innovative complexes and more info on why they work, head over to Bret Contreras’ blog. You’ll read how he’s designed complexes that help athletes overcome their hatred for conditioning by getting them lean and fit with barbells and bands (instead of running or other energy system training).