Sunday, January 21, 2018

Not So Complex Gains, Parts One and Two - Jon-Eric Kawamoto (2017)

More by Jon-Eric Kawamoto:

Not So Complex Gains, Part One
by Jon-Eric Kawamoto

The most intricate program in the world won't do jack for your physique if you approach it with half-assed intensity and focus. 

To improve your training efficiency and keep your intensity high, select basic exercises that give you the highest return on investment in terms of muscle recruitment and efficiency of movement, and limit your rest time to keep our heart rate elevated. Employing a barbell complex training method will cover all of that.

Made popular by strength coaches Istvan Javorek and Dan John -

 - a complex, done with one piece of equipment, usually a barbell, a dumbbell, or a kettlebell, is a style of circuit training where several exercises are performed in succession without resting. 

For example, you can perform 8 reps of barbell rows, followed by 8 front squats, and 8 overhead presses. Not only will this flood all your major muscles with nutrient-rich blood, but you'll also be gasping for air. Since you're only using one piece of equipment, you won't have to worry about another trainee interfering with your circuit.

They're also diverse. If you don't have access to or don't want to use a barbell, you can use dumbbells, sandbags, kettlebells, and medicine balls. 

Finally, complexes can be tailored toward different goals, since they're more of a template for how to lift. 

Not sure where to start? 

No problem.

In Part One of this two part feature, we provide you with a road map for structuring your own complexes and then outline three to try, depending on your training goals. 

Create Your Own Complex

1) Determine your goal - 
Figure out whether you want to focus on hypertrophy, strength, endurance, or athleticism. This will help you determine how many reps and the types of exercises you should choose.

2) Get into the flow - 
Be sure to arrange exercises in an order that allows a smooth flow from move to move. For example, the back squat flows nicely after an overhead press, but not so much if it's performed after a bentover row. For a full-body workout, include an upper body push, an upper body pull, a lower body push or a lunge, and a lower body pull. And be sure to order them wisely.

4) Begin each complex with a naked bar to warm up - 
Add weight slowly until the weakest exercise feels challenging. Then begin your working sets. Leave your ego at the door. Complexes are not so much about how much you can lift but about the consistent flow from exercise to exercise and total work performed in each workout.

5) Progress smart - 
Once you're comfortable with your form and can stick to the 90-second rest interval more easily, add 5-10 pounds to each workout. Choose only one mode of progression every three to four weeks.  

Sample Complexes

Hypertrophy, Upper Body: 

Complete 4-6 rounds, resting 90 seconds between rounds.
1A) Bentover Row, 12 reps
1B) Upright Row, 12 reps
1C) Overhead Press, 8 reps
1D) Barbell Curl, 8 reps
1E) Close Grip Barbell Pushup, 12 reps
1F) Bentover Row Isometric Hold, 15 second hold. 

Hypertrophy, Lower Body:

Complete 4-6 rounds, resting 90 seconds between rounds.
2A) Conventional Deadlift, 8 reps
2B) Romanian Deadlift, 12 reps
2C) Front Squat, 8 reps
2D) Good Morning, 8 reps
2E) Back Squat, 12 reps
2F) Alternating Reverse Lunge, 8 reps per leg.

Full-Body Endurance

Do 4-6 rounds, resting 60 seconds between rounds.
3A) Bentover Ros, 15 reps
3B) Romanian Deadlift, 20 reps
3C) Barbell Thruster, 15 reps
3D) Forward Lunge, 12 per leg
3E) Alternating Lateral Lunge, 12 per leg. 

Not So Complex Gains, Part Two
by Jon-Eric Kawamoto

 In Part One last month we provided the road map for constructing your own complexes - that is, four to six exercises performed in succession using one tool, like a kettlebell, barbell, or dumbbells. Then we outlined three barbell complexes as examples for you to try, focusing on hypertrophy (in your upper and lower body) and then muscular endurance. 

To round out Part Two, we give you two more sample complexes to try - one aimed at building strength and one for improving your athletic prowess. 

If you followed along last month, at this point you: 

a) should be used to performing multi-joint movements with no rest in between, and
b( can maintain perfect form as you reach the brink of complete exhaustion.

Which is a good thing, because these next two complexes are no cakewalk. For starters, the rep count will be lower for the strength routine, meaning the weight will be heavier. There's a reason most powerlifters rest upwards of three minutes and longer after a heavy set of squats or deadlifts, so be prepared to feel fried after just one or two rounds. 

As for the second complex, all the moves are dynamic. You won't just be squatting, you'll be doing jump squats. And forget upright rows. Instead, you'll be performing full-on clean high pulls. The point is, workout No. 2 will demand some serious focus and stamina. But, in the end, neither of these is too complex . . . just difficult! So, are you ready? 

Note: The weight in each complex doesn't change, so select the load based on your weakest link. Chances are you can row a lot more than you can push press. 

Feel free to sub in moves similar to the ones in the sample complexes. Just make sure that the order allows for a smooth transition. 

Sample Strength Complex

Do 5 rounds, resting 90 seconds between rounds.
1A) Pendlay Row, 6 reps
1B) Power Clean, 5 reps
1C) Push Press, 5 reps
1D) Split Squat, 6 per leg.

Sample Athleticism Complex

Do 5 rounds, resting 90 seconds between rounds.  
Note: For the jump squat, you're not trying to set a vertical jump record. Rather, focus on landing softly and being rhythmic.

1A) Back-Loaded Jump Squat, 8 reps
1B) Power Jerk, 5 reps
1C) Hang Clean, 3 reps
1D) Clean High Pull, 5 reps
1E) Romanian Deadlift, 8 reps.


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