Do you love the barbell so much you never want to put it down? Good. Here's a workout where you don't have to.

Barbell complexes are aggressive and effective. Created by former Romanian Olympic weightlifting coach Istvan “Steve” Javorek in 1967, barbell complexes were designed to be a fast and efficient method of performance enhancement while breaking up exercise monotony. A complex is a series of lifts done in a nonstop, continuous fashion using the same piece of equipment. Barbell complexes are a strength circuit of 2 or more exercises with a barbell, back to back, non stop with no rest (except between rounds). Try doing the exercises as quickly as you can while still maintaining good form. Use a weight that is challenging for you but that you can handle for a fairly long duration. Between rounds, take a minute to regroup.

Barbell complexes can be used as a workout in and of themselves, or within a workout.

Great for cutting your gym time short, barbell complexes are one of the best techniques to jack up your heart rate while building hard muscle. Whether your goals are fat burning or muscle growth, or if you're looking for something to shake up your routine, blast through this full-body barbell complex workout and see real results super fast.

Do 3 sets of each complex before moving on to the next, or, follow SHREDZ athlete Brandon Michael Fit in this SHREDZ FitClub video, and perform the 666: six rounds of, six reps of six barbell exercises. Not yet a FitClub Member? Sign up here for free today for unlimited access to dozens of professionally developed, information-packed, motivational workout videos.

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Complex #1: Deadlift and Bent-Over Row

 
Deadlift

Before jumping headfirst into a deadlift, be aware that the deadlift is one exercise that is very difficult to get right. Done correctly, the deadlift targets primarily the erector spinae (the muscles on either side of your spinal column) and the gluteus maximus (booty). Second to those muscles are the quads (front thigh), hamstrings (back thigh), calves, adductor magnus (inner thigh), and traps (between shoulder and neck). Done incorrectly, you might be setting yourself up for injury and imbalance. Shredz FitClub (always free!) features a 6-part series on performing the perfect deadlift. Once you're signed up, you can access unlimited videos, anytime, from any device. Here are links to the deadlift videos:

Deadlift 101 Part 1: Understanding the Movement

Deadlift 101 Part 2: Forming the Proper Habits

Deadlift 101 Part 3: Stretching and Mobility

Deadlift 101 Part 4: Advanced Technique

Deadlift 101 Part 5: Implementation into Training

Deadlift 101 Part 6: Pyramid Routine

To do a proper deadlift with a barbell, with your feet just wider than hip distance apart, squat down with your back straight and chest out, bending at the knees and hips, keeping your weight in the center of your feet. Grab the bar and lift up, keeping your back straight, upright, and chest out, thrusting hips forward, pushing through the middle of your feet. Once your knees are straight, pause at the top, lower back down, and repeat:

deadlift

Bent-Over Row

When performing the row, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together as you lift the bar towards your body.

 

Row 

Complex #2: Clean and Push Press (Thruster)

Clean

A "clean" is a multi-step movement that involves bringing the bar across the middle of your body. Some people like to group cleans with an overhead shoulder press. Since we're going to incorporate a press next round, we'll keep the cleans simple. From hip level, thrust your weight forward to swing the bar up to rest between your shoulders and your chest. Lower the bar slowly and repeat.

Clean

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Push press / Thruster

This movement is basically a press with a squat. The momentum you get from the squat motion is used to help you explode the barbell up over your head:

Push press

Complex #3: Military Press and Squat (front or back)

Military Press

The military press is a simple concept but a tough motion. Keep your body straight, your core and butt tight, and your elbows in while performing this exercise.

Military

Back Squats, with Front Squat Variation

Squats, like deadlifts, need to be done with care, especially when squatting with a heavy barbell. Keep your feet flat on the floor and bend straight down, keeping your weight centered and your back straight. Bend at the knees, not at the waist or hips. At the bottom of the movement, make sure your hips dip lower than your kneecaps.

Back Squats

Some people warn against holding a barbell so close to the back of the neck. So here is a safer variation. Balance the bar across your shoulders, cross your arms and stabilize the bar with your hands. Perform the squat in the same way.

Try alternating back with front squats to target more muscles and enhance balance and muscle strength development. 

Front Squats

 

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by Dina Aronson, MS, RDN

Oct 17, 2016

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