The Complex From Hell

With the weather changing and the likelihood of being able to go outside and do some sprints on the track or any other form of outdoor conditioning becoming less and less likely as the days pass, I find myself trying new and different things on a weekly basis in order to get some type of conditioning in a handful of times a week (even thought I hate it with a passion). A while back I wrote about the TABATA protocol that I have been performing 1-2 times a week (usually 2), which I love because it’s over in 4 minutes and it kicks my butt.

That being said, recently I have been performing a barbell complex followed by 20-30 seconds on the ropes. It goes a little something like this…

BB Row x 5

RDL x 5

Hang Clean x 5

Front Squat x 5

Overhead (Military) Press x 5

Ropes for speed x 20 seconds

Rest 60-90 seconds

Repeat 3-4 times


You can perform the exercises in a couple of different ways. You could perform everything by itself, doing 5 barbell rows, 5 RDL’s, and so on which I have been doing. You could also combine the movements by performing 5 barbell row’s into 5 RDL’s and then 5 hang clean to front squat to an overhead press, a little something like the following video. Either way works, the key is to never let go of the barbell and move fluently from movement to movement.

For anyone who hasn’t done this before, I know what you’re thinking, and it is so much harder than it looks. A word of advice, pick a weight that you think is going to be too easy because I promise by the time you get to rounds 2-5 you’ll be glad you didn’t pick a heavier weight, you’ll be humbled quickly, AND it’s not really about the weight that you use and more about the nonstop, high intensity aspect of each of the successive movements. I speak from personal experience when I say that the weight can and will humble you very quickly.

Also, if you don’t have access to ropes, which many of you probably don’t, you have a couple of options. You could just stop after the barbell complex because I’m sure once you get through a couple of them you’ll be gassed, you could drop the bar and pump out 5 push up’s, or you could even go jump on the bike/treadmill for a quick 20-30 all out sprint. To be honest, for beginners simply performing the barbell complex will probably be enough.

Finally, the movements I picked are by no means set in stone. I personally use these 5 movements because of the ease/flow from one movement to the next, not because these are some special and/or better than other movements…by all means get creative and make it work for you. Just remember, the goal is to move from movement to movement with no rest between each movement all while never putting the barbell down.


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