There are many types of training techniques which one can use to get good results from their training, whether it be Isolation type of movements, Compounds, Plyometric, etc., but one of my personal favorites is Complexes.
What is a Complex? No…it’s not the attitude problem one of your friends has. An exercise complex is when you string typically 2-3 exercises together into one cohesive movement pattern creating one single exercise in an effort to target multiple muscles at one time. So why are complexes so awesome and why should you be adding them to your training regimen.
-Complexes are great because they can be performed with different pieces of equipment(Barbells, Dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, even bodyweight), which allows for variety and versatility, especially if you are using kettlebells or dumbbells because then you can perform your movements unilaterally(on one side at a time), which adds another layer of benefit.
-Complexes are an awesome way to target multiple muscle groups in one repetition. In many cases agonist and antagonist muscle groups are worked together, where you might have a combination where you hit chest and back in one movement, or quads and hamstrings together, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hit muscle groups that are unrelated either…Your only limited by where your creativity ends. My suggestion is to perform complexes where there can be a natural flow to the exercises that are connected because it mimics movement in a more functional manner, hence increasing functional strength and conditioning.
-Time under tension is a great way to stimulate muscle growth as well as increases in strength and muscular endurance and you get that in spades with Complexes. Because you are stringing multiple movements together you are actually spending more time under the weight, which makes them more difficult than doing a single movement exercise. It’s not the shear amount of weight but the amount of time with the weight that counts. That being said there is no need to load up, you will want to use a weight where you can perform 5 reps of the complex for each set. Trust me it will feel like you are lifting more weight than you are.
-Complexes inherently increase the intensity of your training. This is directly related to the fact that you are training multiple muscle groups within one larger movement and because of that you are also spending more time under tension, which elevates the level of difficulty. Here is the indirect benefit of this…the increase in training intensity also elevates your heart rate, which will improve your cardiovascular performance. If your training doesn’t have some level of intensity, which is obviously relative to each person, then you are leaving gains on the table. Training shouldn’t be comfortable and Complexes definitely up the ante in the intensity department.
- Adding complexes to your training regimen will increase your level of focus as well as mental and physical coordination. Since complexes require combining different components together, more attention is required to complete every rep. Initially as you take on this type of work it may feel slightly awkward as you are moving between the individual pieces but with each subsequent rep, set and training session you will begin to mentally connect the pieces quicker and your body will likewise respond allowing you to move seamlessly through the entire flow. As a result you achieve better body awareness, balance and fluidity of movement in your everyday life, with or without weight.
-Don’t have long stretches of time available for your training sessions? Most people don’t, and this is what makes complexes so great, they make gym time more efficient. I’ve touched on these points above but it boils down to the following…with complexes you are hitting more muscle groups, getting more time under tension resulting in higher intensity with the added benefit of cardiovascular conditioning in less time. As I always say, Get In…Get It Done…Get Out!
So if you are looking to maximize the results of your efforts in a multitude of ways then its time you add complexes to your training! If you need some examples check the links below.