Complexes: Training When You Have Your Hands Full

Complexes: Training When You Have Your Hands Full

How many times have you heard someone say they can’t exercise because they don’t have the time? Maybe you’ve said it yourself. Well, never again! Now you can improve endurance, strength, and body composition even if your hands are full, quite literally. The simple solution? The complex! Let me explain.

What are “complexes”?

A complex is a series of mostly compound exercises, using one piece of equipment. These exercises are done, one after another, with smooth transitions between them, until all the exercises and repetitions are complete. You will never pause or put the weight down, even to adjust your grip, until you’ve finished. You’ll then rest, anywhere from three minutes to less than 30 seconds, before you begin the next round.

You’ll need to plan this out in advance.

Let’s say you decide to use two dumbbells for your complexes. You’ll want to pick 5-8 dumbbell exercises that you can do, one after another, without letting go of them, making most of the exercises compound, multi-joint movements to push you into oxygen debt. For example, you might try this sequence:

  1. Dumbbell front squat
  2. Dumbbell lunge
  3. T-pushups
  4. Dumbbell thrusters
  5. Two-arm row
  6. Step-up
  7. Snatch

You’ll want to pick exercises you know (you may want to practice a few new ones), sequencing them so you can move fluidly from one to the next

What weight should I start with?

Pick the exercise in the sequence that will require the lightest dumbbells. You may be “weakest” in T-pushups; perhaps you can only do 10 of them with 40 pounds. Then during your sequence you need to use two 40-pound dumbbells for all of your movements because you won’t be setting them down. When you get to the T-pushups, you’ll be getting a little tired, so only do 6-8 of them. You may need to do 10-15 reps on some of the other movements, but resist the urge to go higher. Instead, keep moving, maintain perfect form, and don’t rest!

Okay, I get it, but what happens when I finish?

Now you can rest, but not for more than 3 minutes; you should be timing this precisely. When time is up, you repeat the complex. Ultimately, you’ll want to finish five of them in 25 minutes or less, but start with three rounds and aim for 20 minutes starting out. That means from week to week, you’ll want to decrease the rest between complexes until you are only pausing 15-30 seconds between sequences. When you get stronger (and you will), use 45-pound dumbbells. Oh, and do this type of workout no more than two times per week.

What if I hate dumbbells?

You are limited only by your own imagination. Amazing complexes can be fashioned with barbells, Olympic plates, kettlebells, sandbags, and from landmine exercises. You may find you love kettlebells, or that fighting the shifting weight of sandbags is better for you. Change things up every couple of months, regardless, because if you aren’t having fun, you may find it reason enough to quit.

What makes complexes awesome?

Complexes will increase oxygen consumption hours after you’ve finished exercising, revving up your metabolism and burning more fat. They will increase growth hormone release, improving your strength and vitality. Why, who knows what you’ll be able to accomplish the next time your hands are full.


CATEGORIES: Tips, Workout, Fitness, Dumbbell