Archive for the ‘Conditioning’ Category

Ugh! Energy system development! I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I hate cardio, I hate intervals, I hate complexes, I hate Tabatas, and I hate high reps. In fact, I hate anything that involves multiple repetitions. To me, heavy lifting is where it’s at! Sometimes my lower body workouts will consist of five singles of heavy squats, three singles of heavy deadlifts, and a couple of low rep sets of heavy hip thrusts before calling it a day. Yes, I’ve had workouts that had me performing around 14 repetitions in the entire workout (not including warm-ups). What can I say, I’m a low-rep kind of guy! Force me to perform a set of 10 reps and I’m liable to throw a tantrum and walk home. Oh yeah, my gym is my home so never mind (I have a garage gym). While this strategy may be great for strength, it leaves much to be desired for hypertrophy and fat-loss.

Recently my weight has climbed to 240 lbs and I need to lean out. In Scottsdale, you really need to be lean in the summertime as there are always times where friends, family, and co-workers are having barbeques and pool parties which require you to take your shirt off. So I decided that in addition to cutting down on my carb intake, I’m going to start performing complexes at the end of my workouts.

Here are some unique complexes that I performed after yesterday and today’s workouts:

Barbell Complex

In the first complex, I am using a barbell loaded to 135 lbs. I perform 6 reps of:

1. power curls
2. bent over rows
3. push presses
4. full squats
5. good mornings
6. glute bridges, and
7. floor presses

Here’s the video:

Here’s what I like about the barbell complex (I know, technically you’re not supposed to set the bar on the ground in a barbell complex – I cheated)

– I’m kind of obsessive-compulsive about nailing each movement pattern, and with this complex I get in a quad dominant movement, two hip dominant movements, a vertical press, a horizontal press, a horizontal pull, and a vertical pull (if you consider the power curl vertical which I realize is a stretch).

– The exercise order flowed very well which makes it easy to remember.

– I feel like the body’s large muscle groups get hit hard with these exercises and as my work capacity increases I’ll get much more out of it. Nobody has ever doubted the effectiveness of axial loading!

Here’s what I will do differently next time around

– I just read my friend John “I Missed the Boat by Not Referring to My Abs as ‘The Situation'” Romaniello’s article on TMuscle entitled Complexes 2.0 – Optimize Your Fat-Loss Workouts where he discusses different techniques that can be utilized to optimize your complex methodology.

– Next time around, I’m going to perform more reps with the easier exercises and I might tinker around with the order like John suggests. Sadly, I feel like I could easily perform 20 reps of each exercise on its own but I’m in such mediocre condition right now it was hard just doing 6 reps of each during the complex.

– Next time around, I may experiment with different exercises as there are so many good ones to substitute in (power cleans, power snatches, hang cleans, hang snatches, jump squats, wide grip upright rows, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, reverse lunge, military press, barbell curl, barbell hack lift, etc.).

– Next time around, I’m going to perform the exercises much more explosively.

JC Band Complex

In the second complex, I am using a pair of blue JC Bands. I perform 5 reps of:

1. chest press (left foot forward)
2. chest press (right foot forward)
3. row (left foot forward)
4. row (right foot forward)
5. body bend (left)
6. body bend (right)
7. Pallof press (left)
8. Pallof press (right), and
9. squat to face pull

Here’s the video:

Here’s what I like about the band complex

– It reveals how strong your hips truly are from various directions. My friend who is much stronger than me at squats and bench press couldn’t walk out as far as I could as he couldn’t stabilize his body to get a good workout in his prime movers. It was as if the bands turned a Silverback gorilla into an ameba; he was all over the place. As he gains strength in his stabilizers and coordination with the bands, he will be able to get a much better workout. The stronger you are, the farther you can walk out which gives your hips (in this case the glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, adductors, and hip rotators – which usually act as prime movers but with these band exercises they act as stabilizers in an isometric fashion) an even better workout. Strong weightroom guys initially suck at these until their smaller stabilizer muscles catch up in strength and their bodies learn to transfer force throughout the upper, core, and lower regions.

– It gives the shoulder stabilizers a great workout too. Whenever I use the JC Bands for some hard upper body work my rotator cuff muscles are very sore the following day.

– It reveals left/right asymmetries. As you can see, I’m more coordinated with my left foot forward than with my right foot forward. This type of training will help eliminate those asymmetries to build a more balanced, coordinated body.

– Watch the scapulohumeral rhythm on the chest presses! It looks like a push up plus, ableit an open-chain one. This movement requires a ton of serratus activation and scap protraction. Lots of freedom of movement for the scapulae on all upper body presses. The combination of rotator cuff and serratus activation on the presses along with the mid trap and rhomboid activation on the rows and face pulls make this workout an excellent shoulder conditioner.

– People underestimate how strong these bands are. I estimate that if I walk out far enough and perform a chest press I can have the equivalent of 300 lbs of tension at the end range of the movement. I bet most viewers will watch this video and assume it’s easy. Try it! Most are very surprised with the level of difficulty.

– You can’t get nearly as good of a conditioning workout with cables as you can bands as the bands are perfectly suited for explosiveness with their elastic nature. If you trained explosively with a cable column the weight stack would end up busting.

– Talk about full body integration! Everything is working together; you have transfer from the hands all the way into the ground with everything contracting in between.

– The bands allow you to hit a variety of directional load vectors: anteroposterior, lateromedial, torsional. You get core-stabilization from all directions.

Here’s what I’ll do differently next time around

– I just read my friend Nick (The Italian Stallion) Tumminello’s article on T-Nation entitled Six New Tabata Workouts for Fast Fat Loss where he shows an awesome complex with the JC Bands.

– Next time around, I’m going to perform the exercises much more explosively.

– Next time around, I’ll get better intuitively at judging the right distance necessary to provide optimal tension for each exercise.

– Next time around, I may experiment with different exercises as there are so many good ones to substitute in (band shoulder press, band lat pull, swimmer’s pull, one arm fly, sprint starts, speed alternating punches, speed alternating rows, hip rotations, etc.)


I think it’s wise to perform a variety of complexes in order to condition the body to all types of directional load vectors. Complexes can be performed with barbells, JC Bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, bodyweight exercises, trx systems, the grappler, battle ropes, Indian clubs, etc.

Hope you enjoyed the videos!

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