Simplifying the Complex

Barbell Complexes for Fat Loss

The barbell complex is one of my favorite training tools for fat loss and strength. Barbell complexes are efficient, they don’t require a lot of equipment or space, and they are very versatile because you can plug and play different exercises each time.

I’ve been using barbell complexes in my own training programs for years. I’ve also been implementing them into some of my advanced trainee’s programs at my gym. Today I want to simplify one of the most basic barbell complexes and provide a few tips on how you can implement this into your own training program. All you need is a barbell, a few plates if you need more weight, and a bit of space in the gym or even in your home.

What is a barbell complex?
A barbell complex is a tool that you can add into your training toolbox to improve strength, conditioning, power and mental toughness, as well as ramp up your fat-loss results.

For the sake of this article, I’m going to use a five-exercise complex with five repetitions of each movement. This barbell complex is a series of movements that are done seamlessly from one to the next without putting the bar down. You’ll perform all five repetitions for exercise #1 and then move to exercise #2 and so on. Once you are done with the set, you’ll want to rest for about 2 minutes and then start again. Working anywhere from 3-6 sets depending on fitness levels will be ideal.

Despite the name, barbell complexes can be made simple. Here’s how you can easily program them:

• Choose exercises that will target all major muscle groups
• Organize exercises that will move easily from one to the next
• Choose exercises that will all require a similar load
• Base the load used around the weakest exercise in the chain
• Program anywhere from 3-8 repetitions of each movement in the complex
• Program 3-6 sets depending on the client or individual’s fitness level

Here is one of my favorite barbell complexes:

• Hang Clean
• Front Squat
• Push Press
• Back Squat
• Romanian Deadlift

My favorite tactic is to use this barbell complex as an addition to a regular training week for a client or myself. If the individual is strength training three days per week, I’ll use this as a fourth day and then have a strictly metabolic session as their fifth day, either with me or on their own time.

Here’s an example of that training schedule that you can easily follow:

• Monday: Strength
• Tuesday: Barbell Complex
• Wednesday: Strength
• Thursday: OFF
• Friday: Strength
• Saturday: OFF
• Sunday: Conditioning

The most important thing to remember with barbell complexes is that it’s OK to use a bit less weight. The goal is to move the weight quickly and keep perfect form and core tightness on each movement. Women will generally want to start in the 45-65 pound range for 5-6 repetitions of each movement.

Callie Durbrow

Callie Durbrow is the owner of Durbrow Performance Training and the author of Strong and Sexy in 25 Minutes.

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