You enter the parking lot of the local gym and see car after car and know it’s going to be a busy day inside. With summer right around the corner every gym member seemingly is working out at the same time and all you can find is only one dumbbell in the corner. Despite the lack of room and limited equipment, by combining exercises in the right order you can get a great workout in less time and increase results.
Complexes use one piece of equipment and require several different exercises back to back to back, all without rest, or think of it as a circuit using one piece of equipment, one load, and one space. The metabolic effort of this type of work is intense. You increase intensity, use more muscle groups, and get a massive boost in metabolism both during and after the workout.
Also, by spending less time resting and more time working, you can get in and out of the gym faster. Finally, you don’t have to worry about the gym being busy because all you need is once piece of equipment and standing room only.
Common exercise equipment choices are kettlebells, sandbags, dumbbells and the barbell. These can be done after a traditional workout, in place of cardio or endurance strength work and, if repeated multiple times, an entire workout.
A sample novice dumbbell complex: 12 goblet squats, then 12 dumbbell deadlifts and then let the dumbbell go and hold a plank for 30 seconds.
An advanced dumbbell complex: 10 dumbbell snatches, then 10 squats holding the dumbbell, then 10 overhead presses and finally 10 side lunges each leg.
Pick a weight that is relatively light but still a challenge. The basic rule is to use the heaviest weight you can handle on your weakest or hardest exercise in the complex. For example, the above complex contains an overhead press. Most people will be able to squat more than then can overhead press, so pick the weight you can handle on the overhead press, not the back squat.
Complexes are typically for more advanced lifters because they require you to perform exercises under extreme fatigue and with weight. Beginners and people not accustom to using free weights should first master the basic exercises and then slowly add complexes to the programs.
As always consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program, and if you are unsure how to properly preform any exercise seek the advice of a trained fitness professional.
—Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in adult fitness over 50 and rehabilitation after injury. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.