Simple Complexes

Editors Note: This is a contribution from Curt Pedersen of Stayfit Central.

Wouldn’t you like to perform a workout that is effective for building muscle, burning fat, and improving your fitness level at the same time? Does it sound too good to be true? Believe it or not, this workout does exist. It uses a routine referred to as complexes.

Keep reading to learn what they are and for a killer workout using the a style of training that’s previously been the secret or strength coaches and elite athletes.

Complexes – A Simple But Most Super Effective Way To Train
Basically speaking, complexes consist of 3 or more exercises done using the same barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell. You use the same weight for each exercise too. What makes them different from a typical workout is that you don’t pause or rest between exercises. When performed properly you move fluidly from one exercise to the other.

Complex training is the brainchild of strength coach Istvan Javorek. He uses them to help athletes quickly build muscle and improve their overall fitness in the off-season. The results Coach Javorekreports speak for themself. After 3-6 months of training this way men and women he coaches often gain more than 30 pounds and more than doubled their strength. People I train achieve similar results and often lose as much weight and body fat in as little time too.

You donít have to be an elite athlete to do them or achieve similar results. If you’re willing to put forth maximum effort and make sure you eat enough protein to build muscle you too can achieve similar results. The list below details the several benefits of complexes.

Complexes are convenient. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of changing weights or moving from one piece of equipment to another.
Complexes save you time. Since you rest so little and don’t have to change equipment or machines each workout only takes 15-20 minutes.
Complexes don’t require much equipment. All you need to perform them is a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.
Complexes don’t require a lot of space. You can do this workout in a spare room of your house or backyard.
Complexes improve your overall fitness. This workout won’t simply make you bigger or stronger. Doing them regularly will help you build muscle, increase your strength, and even increase your flexibility.

Complex Workout
The exercises in this workout are: squats, single arm shoulder presses, and 1 armed swings. I recommend using a kettlebell to perform the complex. If you don’t have access to a kettlebell you can use a dumbbell instead.

Performing a complex with these exercises trains practically every muscle in your body. Your legs, core (abs/lower back), upper back, and shoulders get an especially good workout. you’ll even feel it in your biceps and triceps. My arms got significantly bigger after doing this complex 2-3 times a week for a month. I wasn’t doing any exercises for my arms like curls or triceps push downs either.

Below are descriptions for each exercise. I recommend learning how to do each exercise by itself first. Once you have the movement mastered you can do them as a complex.

Kettlebell Squat
1. Stand holding a kettlebell at shoulder height. Your feet should still be apart at shoulder width.
2. Perform a squat by bending your knees and moving your but back. Your weight should be over your heels.
3. Continue to squat down until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Your heels should never come off the ground.
4. Return to the standing position. Push up from your heels.
5. you’ll finish in the same position from which you started this portion of the exercise. you’re now ready to perform the 1 arm shoulder press.

Kettlebell Shoulder Press
1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart holding the kettlebell at shoulder height. The kettlebell will rest against the back of your hand.
2. Tighten your abs, breath in and press the kettlebell overhead until your arm is completely extended.
3. Lower the weight back to the starting position of the exercise.
4. Return the weight to the starting position of the kettlebell snatch.

Arm Kettlebell Swings
1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold a kettbell in one hand with your palm facing away from you. The kettlebell should be between your legs.
2. Bend your knees and waist as if you are performing a kettlebell swing. The kettlebell should swing back and between your legs.
3. Once the weight has swung between your legs, pull it forward explosively. Push from your heels onto your toes. Keep your arm straight and extended throughout the movement. You should be on your toes as the kettlebell approaches chest height.
4. Driving with your hips, pull the weight up until your arm is chest high.
5. Return to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Sets, Reps And Rest Periods
Begin with 5 sets of 3 repetitions per arm for each exercise. Add 1 repetition per set every other workout until you can do 5 sets of 8 reps. Once you have achieved this goal you can decrease the amount of rest you take between complexes to make them more challenging and further improve your fitness.

When you can easily do 5 sets of 8 reps with 60 seconds or less rest between each complex it’s time to move only more challenging variations. This can include performing reverse lunges instead of squats and holding the weight overhead as you perform the squatting segment of the exercise. You can also add an additional movement such as the rows or stiff legged deadlifts to the complex.

Making Complexes Part Of Your Workouts
I like to do this complex as the first exercise of a workout. Then, all I have to do is perform 3-5 sets of plyometric push ups, pull ups, and an exercise like Farmers Walks and I’m done. I’ll have trained every major muscle group in my body in 30 minutes tops.

You can also do them on your days off as a general conditioning exercise. Do sets of 5 reps with a weight you can perform 10 good reps of each exercise with so you don’t compromise your ability to recover before your next workout.

They’re also a great way to train when you’re pressed for time. All it takes is 10-15 minutes to perform 5 complexes.

You now have a great workout that enables you to conveniently get in a great total body workout in less than 30 minutes. Do complexes regularly and you’ll be bigger, fitter, and stronger in no time.


Curt is the founder of StayFit Central, a website which features reviews, guides, and other information to help people buy the right nutritional supplements and fitness products for their specific needs. Curt has published numerous fitness, nutrition, and health related articles online at leading online publications including: eDiets, iVillage, and Askmen.


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