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3 Benefits Of Weightlifting Complexes And 3 Sample Complexes!

The hottest topic on most people’s lips is fat loss, whether they’re getting back in shape for the New Year, getting ready for spring break, or getting into that old dress or their favorite pair of jeans. This is the perfect time to recalibrate, refocus, and recommit to your fat-loss program.

One of the best training methods in my arsenal is complex or matrix-style training. These methods work extremely well after the strength-boosting component of your program, when you’ve already made a concerted effort to build some muscle.

I first learned about complexes back in the late 1990s when I was just getting started in the iron game. Istvan Javorek is widely regarded as the pioneer of complexes, and while he used them to improve the Olympic lifts, I feel as though they’re great as a workout finisher as well.

But before we dive head first into a few sample complexes or matrices, let’s first discuss why you might choose to include them in your workouts.

Complex or matrix-style training work extremely well after you’ve already made a concerted effort to build some muscle.

BENEFITS OF COMPLEXES

Complexes and matrices have quite a few benefits, but here are just a few that spring to mind:

1 They’re Fat Loss Friendly

This is an obvious benefit for long duration, low intensity cardio targets such as improved cardiovascular function and parasympathetic tone etc.—but not maximal fat loss. Anaerobic intervals in the 1:1-1:3 work:rest ratio are some of the best ways to shed body fat. You don’t want to use them all year round, but if you want an all-out assault on body fat, they’re the real deal.

2 They’re Fast

If you’re looking to get lean, more training volume isn’t always better. In fact, this is the ideal time to use faster, more high intensity methods. Complexes are fast and brutally effective, which gets you in and out of the gym quicker.

3 They Efficiently Use Space and Equipment

One of the big issues when it comes to fat loss training is equipment and/or space. Not everyone has sleds, prowlers or a hill in the backyard to train with. Complexes and matrices are not only space efficient—they can often be done in a small area—but theyrequire minimal equipment as well. With only one barbell, a sandbag or even just your bodyweight you can knock out an intense workout.

THE BASICS

When performing complexes, I typically prescribe 24 total reps. My favorite options are either four exercises with six repetitions each, or six exercises with four repetitions each. You’ll perform each exercise for the allotted number of repetitions, and then move immediately into the next exercise. Go through the entire series of exercises, and then rest for the same period of time, or at the most, twice as long as it took you to go through the series.

As your conditioning improves, work to decrease the rest period so that you adhere to a 1:1 work:rest ratio.

SAMPLE COMPLEXES AND MATRICES

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at a couple of sample complexes you can take to the gym and start performing today!

The Basic Barbell Complex

This is a super-efficient complex that even the most seasoned iron veteran will enjoy. All the big lifts are tied into one awesome series!

Front Squat

Week 1: 3 complexes
Week 2: 4 complexes
Week 3: 5 complexes
Week 4: 6 complexes

Complex
  • Romanian Deadlift: 4 reps
  • Bent-Over Row: 4 reps
  • Front Squat: 4 reps
  • Push Press: 4 reps
  • Good Morning: 4 reps
  • Back Squat: 4 reps

Bodyweight Leg Matrix

If you struggle with body fat in the legs, this lower-body matrix will help you blowtorch it like no other!

Lunge

Week 1: 2 matrices
Week 2: 3 matrices
Week 3: 3 matrices
Week 4: 4 matrices

Matrix
  • Vertical Jump: 6 reps
  • Squat: 6 reps
  • Step-Up: 6 reps
  • Lunge: 6 reps

Sandbag Complex

Last but not least, if you want something a bit different, give this sandbag complex a shot. It’s not only fun, but the sandbag also creates some unique challenges due to its non-conforming nature.

Overhead Press

Week 1: 3 complexes
Week 2: 4 complexes
Week 3: 5 complexes
Week 4: 6 complexes

Complex
  • Sandbag Shouldering: 6 reps
  • Bent-Over Row: 6 reps
  • Romanian Deadlift: 6 reps
  • Overhead Press: 6 reps

SUMMARY

As you can see, fat loss training doesn’t have to be complex (pun intended). Instead, basic exercises performed in series at a breakneck pace can absolutely help you achieve your goals quickly.

For the next month, finish at least one, if not two, of your workouts with one of the complexes or matrices outlined above. I guarantee it’s going to fast track your fat loss progress, and get you on your way to the lean, sculpted physique you’ve been looking for!


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4 ways to increase fat loss

4 ways to increase fat loss Progressively burn more fat with these top tips from personal trainer, Pilates instructor, and owner of KE Fitness Kris Etheridge.Body fat is simply stored energy, so giving your body a reason to use it is vital. This can be done through diet or exercise, but most commonly a combination of the two.“To lose body fat, you need to place your body into a calorie deficit, forcing it to use its fat for energy. Muscle is also your body’s engine – the bigger the engine, the more fuel it uses and the more calories you burn, making it easier to lose fat,” says Etheridge, who suggests any good fat loss plan contains gradual progressions in both fat-burning cardiovascular activity and resistance training.“Strength training is the most important element; the amount of cardio you need to do to achieve fat loss depends on how strict you are with your diet and what kind of strength and conditioning program you’re doing,” he says.“Utilise progressive overload to make your resistance workout more difficult than what you can comfortably perform in your current program. Whether it be using different training principals, such as supersets and circuits, or increasing the weight or reps, keep progressing by asking more from your body.”Etheridge suggests increasing your weight, sets, reps or intensity each week for six weeks, followed by one week of lighter training (aka. a deload week) to allow the body to recover.“Lighter weeks or rest weeks are imperative to minimise overtraining and reduce the chance of overuse injuries.

Leg Training: 8 Unique Quad Exercises

For a lot of us, leg training is pretty simple. A heavy dose of squats, leg presses, lunges, or any other torturous exercise is usually all it takes to demolish your lower body. But what happens when you fall into a rut and your quads already know what’s coming?

Even worse, what happens when you get bored of your normal leg routine? More than likely, you’ll end up just going through the motions and quitting on a body part that demands your utmost attention and intensity.

When you hit a lower-body wall, reach into your little bag of tricks and pull out one or more of these eight unique quad exercises! When it comes to fitness, I’m always trying to keep things different and think outside the box. My creativity usually leads to great gains. And that’s what you’ll get with these distinctive quad moves—some craziness that will take your legs to a higher level!

1 German Volume Leg Extensions With A Twist

For this exercise, I put together two things most people are familiar with: leg extensions and German Volume Training, which is basically 10 sets of 10 reps for a total of 100 reps. But, I also threw in a brutal twist. You only get 10 seconds of rest between sets.

Leg extensions are a basic quad exercise, but doing them for 100 reps with hardly any rest will leave your lungs burning and your quads wondering what hit them. While you’re going through the reps, you’re going to hurt. Power through and keep the rest to an honest 10 seconds—not a slow 10-count that takes 30 seconds—and you’ll be impressed.

2 Close-Stance High-Bar Olympic-Style Squat

I like to call these dive-bomb squats because it’s all about going really deep —ass-to-grass deep. Keep the bar high on your back—on top of your traps—and your stance close. The position of the bar and your stance will ensure that the bulk of the focus is on your quads.

If you’re normally a low-bar squatter, changing the bar placement and stance will definitely be a challenge. These are great to add in at the end of a workout. Use them as a finisher and don’t be afraid to do a lot of reps.

3 Track Lunges

The concept of bodyweight lunges may sound simple, but I crank up the intensity to max levels. You’ll be doing bodyweight lunges for a distance of up to one mile, and no less than 400 meters, or one lap around the track.

If you’re feeling really frisky, put on a weighted vest and go for a mile. It may take you up to an hour to complete, but you’ll find out how mentally tough you are in a hurry. The key is to keep moving. Don’t stop for many breaks. Push through the pain and push through the burn and the carryover to quad development and your squat strength will be massive.

I basically replaced my cardio work with these track lunges and the difference was huge. I build muscle while I do cardio—that’s an ideal scenario. One final warning, though: be prepared for mad soreness.

4 Frank Zane Single-Leg Leg Extension

Frank Zane gave me this idea after I asked him about his freaky quad separation. He credited single-leg leg extensions for his great quads, but he added a few little secrets.

He told me that he only did the top quarter or even half of the movement, focusing on squeezing the quads at the peak of every rep. He also explained that he did extensions without rest. He simply switched legs and went back and forth for a killer 6-8 sets of 20 reps per leg!

This is an awesome finisher to any leg workout and you’ll notice how effective they are, especially when you squeeze at the top of every rep.

5 Sissy Squat

This exercise might have the worst name in workout history, but let’s focus on how effective it is. It’s a lost exercise for most guys—likely due to the name—but it can blow your quads up.

To perform sissy squats correctly, keep your hips up and make sure you push up through your quads. You’ll get an unbelievable pump! I recommend 20 reps for this movement, but if you want to get crazy, superset them with another exercise in this article. It will be mind-blowing, that’s for sure.

6 28-Method Squat

The 28 Method takes quad punishment to an entirely new level. You’ll do it like this: perform 7 normal reps, 7 slow reps, 7 quarter-reps in the hole, and 7 quarter-reps at the top.

The worst part of this method is the seven slow reps. You have to stay slow on the descent and there’s no rebound out of the hole. Stay slow out of the hole to torch your quads. The tension you’ll feel on your muscles during those seven reps is incredible.

Believe me, you will need to go much lighter than you might expect, but the payoff is immense. These are a definite go-to for me when I want to get a little crazy with my quad routine.

7 28-Method Leg Extensions

We stay with the 28 Method here, but trust me: Just because you’re doing leg extensions doesn’t make it any easier. Your quads will be screaming the entire time and the slow reps are absolutely brutal.

By going slow, you take all of the momentum out of the lift and your quads work overtime on each rep. This is another perfect finisher for any leg workout.

8 Russian Split Squat with quarter-rep method

The finale in this crazy quad lineup includes another of my favorite techniques: the quarter-rep method. When you apply it to the split squat, it’s almost like you’re doing a pump fake out of the hole. Your quads fall for it every time.

Every time your knee touches the floor on the way down, come back up only a quarter of the way, and then drop back down before finishing the full rep. Your quads will be wondering what the heck is going on, especially after the sixth rep. Doing 8-12 reps per leg can reap some serious benefits.


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About The Author

Cory Gregory co-founded MusclePharm. As Executive Vice President of Business Development, Gregory works closely with all of the world-class athletes.

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