by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com

It seems as if I’ve seen a lot (by emails I’ve received and posts on<br /> various message boards) about complex training

It seems as if I’ve seen a lot (by
emails I’ve received and posts on various message boards) about complex
training. And invariably, when complex training is brought up, Randy Couture’s
circuit is also mentioned.

In case you don’t know, “complex”
training (which can also be called “circuit training”) is a method of exercise
in which you move from one exercise to the next without rest. It can be done
on machines, or with different implements, but the more popular methods involve
just one weight – a single barbell, a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells, a
sandbag, etc.

As far as Randy’s complex, it goes
like this (all exercises done for medium-high reps):

-Bent Row

-Upright Row

-Military Press

-Good Morning

-Split Squat (left/right)


-Straight-Legged Deadlift

Now Randy isn’t the only out there
who uses complexes, has had success with them, or has designed very good
complex-based workouts. Martin Rooney has trained a bunch of guys up at Renzo
Gracie’s gym, strength coach Itsvan Javorek has been using complexes for years,
“Renegade Training” Coach John Davies made great use with variations of a
complex he calls the “Bear,” and I’ve even used them in my training programs.

Now, is using complexes good S&C
(strength & conditioning) training for fighters?


Complexes are great for a variety of
reasons. First, they are an exercise that you get the most “bang for your
buck.” Using one simple method, you can train cardiovascular conditioning,
muscular endurance and conditioning, strength and strength-endurance (depending
on how heavy you train), as well as the intangible factor of mental toughness.
Besides – they’re quick! A good complex workout can kick your tail and
have you in and out of the gym inside of 20-25 minutes.

There are multiple ways you can
implement complexes into your overall S&C program. What I like to do (and
did in Program #1 of “Working Class Fitness – The Programs”) is to do
some basic full-body strength work first – no more than 2-4 compound
exercises. Either then (or at a later part in the day), come back and do your
complexes. The compound exercises will help you build your strength and power,
while the complexes can be used to target muscular endurance and conditioning,
as well as overall GPP (General Physical Preparedness).

To illustrate Program #1, I rotate a
basic set/rep scheme over 3 exercises – an upper body push, an upper body
pull, and a squat/deadlift variant. I then utilized the following complex:

-Thruster x 5

-Curl/Back Shrug x 5

-Power Snatch x 6

-Curl/Back Shrug x 5

-Thruster x 5

Another way to implement complexes
would be to setup two different workouts – one with higher reps and lower
(relatively speaking) weight to target the aforementioned muscular endurance
and conditioning. Then setup another workout, only this time, utilize heavier
weight and lower reps. If possible, even have multiple weights (i.e. –
barbells, pairs of dumbbells, etc.) at your disposal, so that you can tax each
exercise as much as possible. Alternate days of complex training, 3x/week,
doing each 3x over two weeks. On the first week, you’d do your endurance
complex on Monday, strength complex on Wednesday, endurance complex on Friday.
Then, on the second week, strength complex on Monday, endurance complex on Wednesday,
and strength complex again on Friday.

One drawback with complexes is that
you have to choose a load which is doable for the exercise in which you are the
weakest. For example, take a look at Randy’s complex above. There is no way
that a weight that you can do Upright Rows with will be heavy for Squats. On
the other hand, if you Squat heavy, you’ll never be able to do Upright Rows
with that same weight. Having multiple barbells at your disposal will solve
this problem. However, this isn’t quite always doable in a gym or weight room.

Another option when designing your
complexes would be to go for a cross between endurance and strength. Utilize a
heavy weight, and choose exercises that allow you to use heavier weights. For
those exercises that you’re stronger on, just do a few more reps. Then, with
some movements that you are very strong on, do a highly explosive/powerful
bodyweight exercise.

For example, here is a dumbbell (DB)
complex I used years back with a lot of good results:

-DB Press x 6

-Chins (weighted if need be) x 6-8

-DB Bent Raise/Rows x 6

-DB Snatch x 8 (each side)

-DB Swing x 12-15 (each side)

-Explosive Push-Up x 5-8

-Jump Squat x 10

*Repeat 3-6x. Rest 45-90 secs
between complexes.

When utilized right, complexes can
be used to accomplish a wide variety of goals – all you have to do is use
your imagination!

Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard. 

Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins is a strength coach and
author living in Cameron, NC. Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength
moderator at mma.tv, columnist for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of
Mixed Martial Arts Training. His site, Working
Class Fitness.com
, is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result MMA
, Navy SEAL Workouts, and programs for
"regular joes."

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