Single implement complexes are a great way to train multiple qualities at once. A complex is doing an exercise for a given number of reps, then moving on to another exercise without ever putting the bar or bell down.
In the barbell world, these have been around a long time. Back in the 1960s, Circuit Training and Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) drifted into the Olympic lifting world and many coaches recommended barbell complexes to prep for the big lifts. Here is a standard:
Row x 8
Clean x 8
Front squat x 8
Military press x 8
Back squat x 8
Good mornings x 8
Generally, do about three total sets of complexes.
There are always problems with complexes. First, the number of times the bar has to travel over head to a new starting position is always an issue. In Complex A, you simply bring the bar to the back squat position after the last set of presses. That’s pretty simply.
With this example below, you see the bar pass back and forth across the head:
After the Good Mornings, one would need to “pop” the bar up and over to do the rows.
The second issue is, for many, a much bigger issue. We can squat and deadlift for days with light loads, but the Press is an issue. Pressing, or maybe we should say “missed” pressing, holds back most complexes.
For Kettlebell Work, we have developed a simple solution: cut the presses to singles. Certainly, we still do heavy presses and we still press with a lot of volume, but, when it comes time for conditioning, we cut the reps to one.
This leads us to one of our favorite workouts, the classic called “Armor Building” in the gym. Why Armor Building? It feels like you are layering yourself with padding as you train…body armor.
With Double Kettlebells, clean both two times. Make a solid rack and press once. Shuffle your feet to your squat stance and Front Squat three times. That’s one round.
We find it “best” to pull the bells down each set and take a moment to shake off each round. The goal is 30 total rounds in five minutes with 24 Kilo bells in each hand. Now, that is only six a minute, but you won’t have much time to dilly dally between reps here.
It’s training session that trains everything. It’s simple:
Two Double KB Cleans
One Double KB Press
Three Double KB Front Squats
It’s simple, but it is not easy.