I am always getting emails, messages, and texts from people wanting to know how to lose weight, gain muscles, get abs, get ripped, etc. Unfortunately, these questions are harder to answer than most people think. There is a lot that goes into your fitness goals, but from a workout perspective, I have a really cool prescription for you. The type of training I’m prescribing has been around for many years. Many have tried changing the names, claiming to be the inventors, putting their brand on it to make themselves feel smart, but I have always felt feel it is important to give credit to the professionals that came up with these training ideas.
These specific training modules are known as Barbell/Dumbbell Complexes and were first thought of by Istvan Javorek. The idea behind this method is that you do not put the implement down until you complete the whole complex. These are incredible conditioning-type workouts that can be used to help you achieve many goals If you are looking to lose weight, gain mass, get ripped, increase your conditioning, increase performance, or you name it, these workouts can help get you there. Let’s be clear, I am just as much as a “3-Rep-and-Chill” type of meathead as the next guy, but sometimes you have to get out of that comfort zone and go for it. Not to mention Complexes are a great workout if you are pinched for time.
You can do these as “stand alones”, meaning they can be the whole workout or they can be placed in your workout as “Finishers.” I enjoy doing them if I am pressed for time, but still need/want to get a workout in. Or I also like to do them as filler days when I am not training hard. For example, if I am training on a three (3) day per week lifting schedule such as, Monday/ Wednesday/Friday, then I would do two (2) days of Complexes on Tuesday and Thursday.
Your other option would be to make Complexes your whole workout, if you are somebody who only has limited time in your schedule. Maybe 2-3 days of Complexes per week. Whatever your options are, give these a try, I know you will love them. And no, these Complexes are NOT Crossfit. Barbell/Dumbbell Complexes were being done long before Crossfit was even a thought.
Now to the questions: How are they done? and How many do I do? These are basically a series of exercises done in succession of each other without putting the Barbells or Dumbbells down. We like to do approximately five (5) or more different exercises targeting multiple body parts. You can do any exercises, but one thing is for sure, they all will kick your butt!
Here’s an example of a variation of Javorek’s Complex that we use:
- BB High Pull
- BB Hang Cleans
- BB Pause Squat
- BB Good Mornings
- BB Rows
After it is completed, you take a rest, and then repeat it for the desired amount of rounds. If these are being done as the whole workout, we like to do 5-8 rounds of them with approximately a 90 second-3 minute rest between rounds. If we are using the Complex in our workouts as Finishers, we may do 2-3 rounds.
Now that you have a good idea of what to do, how many should you do? Again, I like to use these for fat loss, strength gain, and muscle gain, so I prescribe the reps as listed below:
- If I am looking for weight loss, go 8 reps for each exercise. Obviously, the weight will be lower and the reps higher.
- If we are trying to achieve more lean mass, then we like to stay around the 6 rep range with a higher weight for the exercises that make up the complex.
- If our goal is more along the lines of strength, then we will stay closer to that 3-4 rep range and increase the weight.
As you can see, you can really play with this a lot and have fun with them. Remember, you can use dumbbells for these exercises. Kettlebells are also great to use, if you have access to and know how to use them.
I have included some videos of complexes that you can see. You can develop your own from these or steal them if you want to try them.