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Strength Building Training Complexes

Strength Building Training Complexes

One of the best ways I know to increase work capacity at heavy loads is by using strength building training complexes. This article shows you a few of them I use in my training and explains the benefits of the approach.

I’ve written before about how I like to use complexes in my training. As an efficiency training tool, they’re hard to beat. I think of them as a strength training superset.

Typically with complexes, I like to keep the weight pretty high and the reps low.

training pyramid, strength building training complexes

Don’t confuse strength building training complexes with supersets. The latter is a combination of exercises where the focus is more aesthetic and less about performance. I use supersets when I’m looking to build muscle and increase intensity of the workout.

I use strength building training complexes when I’m looking to increase intensity in my strength training. With complexes I’m thinking about strength and performance improvements rather than simply increased muscle size. They also allow you to increase work capacity at a heavy weight, which has benefits that go far beyond strength alone.

Strength building training complexes improve your ability to work at lighter loads too. If you are used to lifting heavy weights for multiple reps, when you lift lighter weights they’ll feel even lighter – this is how you improve work capacity across the weight spectrum. By improving your work capacity at the top end, there’s a trickle-down effect.

When you use strength building training complexes you benefit from…

  • Higher heart rate = more calories burned = more fat loss.
  • More muscle stimulated = bigger, stronger muscles.
  • Less time in the gym = more efficient way to train.

Here’s an example of those benefits in action – this is a screenshot from my polar heart rate monitor data app. In 51 minutes (a time that includes warm up and cool down), I reached a heart rate of 177 and burned 556 calories. Not bad at all…

strength building training complexes

Tips for using strength building training complexes…

  1. Keep the workout simple. These exercises are tough. The harder the work, the less of it you do. Select only a few exercises (I’d suggest a maximum of 5) and perform lots of sets.
  2. Keep the weight heavy. The point here is to build strength and improve your work capacity with a heavy weight. Don’t mess around with light or even medium weights – you’ll lose the benefits.
  3. Only do this if you’ve got some experience. This isn’t an approach for beginners – it’s hard, it requires technical skill and a solid level of fitness. If you’re missing any of the three, don’t use strength building training complexes.

Once you’ve taken the tips above on board, get cracking. Here are four of the strength building training complexes I use in my training. All of the videos are of yours truly…

Clean and Jerk

This isn’t strictly one of the strength building training complexes – it’s an exercise in its own right. It serves as a great example of the kind of combinations that can be used to benefit strength and work capacity. With the clean and jerk it’s a complex that trains pretty much all of the muscles in the body. Add this complex to your strength training and watch your heart rate fly up!

Cleans into Front Squats

Here’s another strength building training complex I use. These two exercises go together perfectly, because the end point of the clean is the starting point of the front squat. This combination trains the legs, back and core really effectively and will see your heart rate increase rapidly. It’s also an exercise where the weight is appropriate for both the clean and front squat.

Hang Cleans to Presses

This is one of the strength building training complexes I use most often. Typically the weight is lighter because it needs to go overhead with a push press. With the lighter weight, you will usually perform slightly more reps (around 5) to get the same training effect. The overhead work limits the weight you can use because typically overhead pressing is a weaker movement than the hang clean.

Snatch to Overhead Squats

This is one of my favourite strength building training complexes. The combination of exercises a great pairing and serve as a challenge most of us don’t usually take. The overhead squat in particular is a mobility screening test, a back, core and leg strength test and requires/helps improve shoulder and upper back strength and stability.

I hope you see something here that inspires you to use the strength building training complexes in your workouts. You’ll improve work capacity, build muscle and improve your athleticism.

Beyond that, you may even learn a few new exercises!

For further reading on heavy weight supersets and strength building training complexes, read this article.

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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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