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What is Complex Training?

Patrick Lynch
Patrick Lynch

Complex training is a form of weight training that can be used to replace cardiovascular exercises such as jogging or high intensity interval training. It is believed to be superior to endurance exercises because the variety involved in complex training prevents the body from adapting to repetitive fat burning techniques. It involves performing a number of different weight lifting exercises in succession without resting.

It is important to remember that this form of training is not a replacement for weight training; the amount of weight used will be much less than a trainee would normally use for these exercises because of the amount of repetitions involved. This type of training is also extremely demanding on the body which means that trainees need to get adequate rest between sessions. Complex training should be seen as an addition to existing weight training and a potential replacement for traditional cardio activities.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Generally speaking, the exercises used in a complex training session will be compound exercises that work the most muscles in the body. The squat, deadlift, military press, and bent over row are just some of the exercises that can be performed. As long as an exercise can be performed from a standing position with a barbell, it can be utilized in a complex session.

Trainees should perform five to eight exercises in a row, with five or six repetitions of each one as the optimum amount. The most important thing about complex training is the ability to move from one exercise to another smoothly without pausing. After performing all sets of movements consecutively, rest for approximately a minute and a half before performing another circuit. Increase the weight after reaching the point where four or five circuits can be performed.

It is also important to note that complex training should be short and difficult. These sessions should never be turned into endurance sessions as this is not what they are designed for. Other methods of progression besides increasing the weight include adding extra repetitions or decreasing the length of rest time between sets.

When beginning complex training, only use exercises that are comfortable; this will make the transition from one move to the next much easier. As all exercises are to be performed with the same amount of weight, the trainee needs to choose a weight that can be easily handled on their weakest exercise. This is why isolation exercises such as bicep curls are excluded; these smaller muscles will be unable to handle a heavy weight which would negatively impact the whole workout.

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