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Barbell Strength Complexes

New Workout: Barbell Strength Complexes

Todays workout was a tough one. We worked on barbell strength complexes – a series of different lifts, with a strength element throughout. Maximum of 6 reps per set, with the emphasis on short rests with a heavy weight.

This workout was inspired by some of the Dmitry Klokov videos I have seen. Given most of them are in Russian, I don’t quite know how he programmes barbell strength complexes into his training, but I wanted to experiment with them. I like my training to be varied and after a 3 month German Volume Training phase, I have moved onto a combination of HIIT and strength training to improve my conditioning.

My focus today was on a heavy weight (around 80% of my 1 rep max for the weakest lift of each complex). I will seek to increase the weight now I am comfortable with how the session feels in terms of physical demands, but I had no idea how quickly fatigue would kick in and what that would do to my technique. I didn’t want to find out I had over-estimated myself the hard way, injuring myself during one of the barbell strength complexes!

Here are the barbell strength complexes we did in the workout today…

Barbell Strength Complex 1 (2 of each exercise in succession)

  • Two Deadlifts into…
  • Two Hang Cleans into…
  • Two Military Presses

barbell strength complexes

Each set is full of movement variety. After the two deadlifts you are in a perfect position to transition into the hang cleans. After the two hang cleans its simple to go straight into the military press. It’s a natural progression and the emphasis is on a variety of body parts, meaning the net result is a balanced, overall fatigue rather than a localised muscular fatigue.

We did 10 sets of this, with the only rest period being the length of time it took my training partner to complete his set.

Barbell Strength Complex 2

  • Power clean into push press (see some of the action shots below!)

barbell strength complexes


barbell strength complexes


barbell strength complexes

This is a great exercise combo and the 60kg we used was a perfect weight. Hard enough to test us, but we were still able to perform 5 good sets of 3 reps. Again, only rest period was the time it took the other to finish their set.

Workout Finisher

  • 5 x 10 Back squats with my bodyweight on the bar (currently 90kg).

This was a great end to the workout – hard after the leg work performed earlier in the session, but doable when split across the five sets.

With the short rest periods, it was a really, really tough session. One of the hardest pure weight training sessions we have done for a while. It felt great though, lifting heavy weights with short rests.

The dramatic change in the session makeup was interesting too. The demands were totally different to most of the other training we have been doing recently, meaning we could feel the good it was doing us. I like the change in training stimulus every now and then!

With a few of these barbell strength complexes under my belt I am sure I will see my strength numbers increase pretty quickly, not to mention see my overall athleticism improve.

If you want to try a new kind of training or want a more interesting way of improving strength than a standard 5 x 5 programme, give the barbell strength complexes a try!

If you are interested in the Dmitry Klokov approach, I know he works a lot with Charles Poliquin now, so this book may be worth a look…

By the way, I’ve now started a VIP email list with discounts, offers, tips and news. You can subscribe at on my homepage! Click here to sign up (blue box at the bottom).

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Owner of Personal Trainer, Father and fitness copy writer. Working hard making the world fitter and healthier!

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