With swimsuit season virtually upon us, perhaps you have fat loss on your mind. Right now I'm finishing my new ebook on Athletic-Training for Fat Loss so I defiantly have fat loss on my mind. There are many effect methods for shedding unwanted body fat and complexes are one of them. A complex is when you do a series of exercises in a row without rest and while keeping the implement (e.g. barbel) in your hands the whole time. Let's look at the pros and cons of complexes and I'll share my 3 favorite fat loss complexes with you.
As with any training decision, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. Just because something can work well doesn't mean it is the best and most appropriate option for you.
The Pros of Complexes for Fat Loss
- Minimal equipment
- Minimal space needed
- Great in a busy gym
- Great when the weather is not conducive to outdoor training (e.g. its raining and you don't want to rust your sled)
- "Easy" to progress - just add a little weight
- Lower impact than running
- HUGE EPOC
The Cons of Complexes for Fat Loss
- Not good for those who lack experience and good technique with the exercises in the complex
- They tend to invite sloppy form - especially if the weight is too heavy (I tried this complex once after training with 135lbs. It was not pretty. You can see the video below. Even in the other videos, you will notice form errors and this can re-enforce faulty movement patterns and invite injury
- I would still choose sled pushing/pulling or hill sprints over complexes when possible - they are easier to go harder on and are less technically demanding - which is helpful as fatigue sets in
- Not specific for conditioning. Note: I know we are talking fat loss here, but many people will also use them for conditioning. If you are looking for something to get the heart and lungs going this will work. However if you are looking for improving conditioning for a specific purpose (e.g. conditioning for a sport like basketball, soccer which would require sprinting drills with change of directions), then in this case specificity is important and complexes will not help much.
Guidelines for Complexes
My top-3 fat loss complexes
- Pick a weight quite a bit lighter than you would normally use for these exercises otherwise you will greatly increase your risk of injury
- Pick exercises that you are very good - the fatigue from complexes is not a good time to learn how to do a new exercise.
- Because the weight you can use will be limited by your weakest exercise, avoid picking exercises that
- Try to move from the weakest exercise to the strongest one so you can use the most weight possible on the weakest one and more to stronger exercises as you
- Try to order the exercises in a way that flows so you do not have to change the position of the weight to start the next exercise (you will see this in the sample complexes below).
- Go easy to start as these are brutal!
My top-3 fat loss complexes
Complex 1: Barbell Complex (see BB complex video HERE)
Power Clean (from floor or hang)
Complex 2: Dumbbell Complex (see DB complex video HERE)
note: all lifts are done with a dumbbell in each hand
Complex 3: Kettlebell Complex (see video below)
note: all lifts are done with a kettlebell in each hand
Putting complexes into a full training program
Complexes would typically come later in the routine - after heavy, non-exhaustive strength work. Look to do about 3-6 reps of each exercise and about 3-6 total sets/complexes.
If you choose to try one of these or any other complexes, make sure you are healthy (check with your doctor first) and skilled with each of the exercises in the complex. Also, be smart and do not let your ego get in the way of making a proper judgement on the load. Start too light (it will still be surprisingly difficult) and slowly build up from there. You don't want to get injured or get light-headed and possibly pass out during the training session. Remember, in this context, the purpose is a big metabolic hit for fat loss, not to set a complex record. Remember, quality over quantity.