Get in Shape with Barbell Complexes

 In Blog

When a client steps into UEFP for the first time, they’re usually taken aback by the lack of equipment. There’s no expensive treadmills, juice bars, or tanning beds. My job is to use the most primitive and basic equipment to get people to excel at human performance while reaching their own personal goals. For that purpose, I tend to rely heavily on the barbell – arguably the best piece of training equipment money can buy. I’ll also use the barbell’s little siblings, i.e., the dumbbell and kettlebell occasionally. Throw in some loaded carries, medicine balls, plyo boxes and you have enough equipment to do a different workout everyday for three years!

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”Respect the barbell complex!”][/image_frame]

While most people think the barbell is used only for strength, it can help you shed some bodyfat as well. One way we can do that is through the use of a barbell complex. If you’ve never put yourself through the luxury (or torture, depending on how you look at things) of a complex, then you’re in for quite possibly the most brutal 2-3 minutes of your training life.

A barbell complex workout is designed around the concept of non-stop work: you go through a series of movements without stopping. By that, I mean that – literally no stopping. If you stop to put the bar down, then you quit the complex early. They always look easy on paper but they’re quite nasty. But that nastiness pays off with a nice thermic affect to the body: the short and intense work help’s promote the release of hormones in the body that prefer to burn bodyfat while building a bit of muscle. When I prescribe complexes in my own workouts I tend to walk around like a furnace the rest of the day. In fact, my wife tends to get upset at all the whining I do about sweating and constantly pleading for the A/C to be cranked up in the car.

They’re one of the best weight loss workouts out there. Complexes are also great for those short on time – 15-20 minutes can get you a full body workout that will help scorch some fat while you’re running around and trying to complete all the craziness that consumes our daily lives. Here’s a sample workout:

Front Squat x 10

Overhead Press x 12

Back Squat x 12

Bent Over Row x 10

RDL x 10

Upright Row x 12


The rules are simple: knock out each move in a row without letting go of the barbell. You may look at it’s a piece of cake but don’t let its simplicity fool you.

Barbell complexes can also be used by the strength and power athlete to help build a bit of muscle and improve conditioning. You have to be careful to not over train yourself, but all you need to do is throw some weight on the bar and drop the reps to somewhere in between 3 to 6:


Power Snatch x 3

Zercher Squat x 5

Push Press x 3

Deadlift x 6

Clean High Pull x 5

Like I said, simple but very effective. After all, would you want to spend 2 grand on a treadmill or 300 dollars on a barbell that will actually get you in shape?


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