I get questions from people as to why we do a lot of complexes and the answer is simple…to get better. But seriously I had the same question for Glenn when I first saw people doing them. The answer I got was pretty in depth so I will give you just the basics so you don’t waste all day reading this.
First and foremost, the definition of a complex is more than one exercise done in a continuous movement. We have done many types of complexes and they all suck in one way or another. We do them at the beginning of a long training cycle and they usually last a month or two depending on how long the cycle is. They are done for two reasons a) volume, you always want more volume at the beginning of your training cycle and b) strength building. In weightlifting there is not a whole lot of time to waste on bodybuilding or other assistance work (don’t get me wrong we do assistance work but not in the same way as most). Glenn’s training philosophy is getting as many reps as possible with the lifts themselves or variations that are as close to the lifts as possible. This is a bulgarian-ish type approach and is different from what other groups do but it works for us. We are not always maxing out in the snatch, clean & jerk, and front/back squats , but we do variations of the lifts and always push for a best in them. But I digress, back to complexes. These are another variation of the lifts but the traditional lifts are done in such a short period of time that the body doesn’t really have to hold a specific position for a period of time. With complexes that is not the case. In the clean complex in the video, the first half of the lift is a clean pull lowered to the knee and then hang cleaned. The bar is already in your hands and has a TUT (time under tension) effect on the hands, forearms, shoulder, and back. The muscles have to work twice as hard because you are holding that position longer than you would in a normal clean. So instead of doing rows, curls, or whatever to build those muscles we do these complexes and the same objective is completed. This is our “bodybuilding” or “bulking phase” if you would.
Plus these offer a good amount of variety to our training. We get plenty bored with hangs, powers, fulls, etc. and challenge your body with these complex movements. If you are quite a ways from your next competition I would suggest adding some complexes in for a few weeks and seeing how they work for you. They are a good strength builder and still mimic the lifts you are trying to improve in (snatch, clean & jerk). I hope this helps explain this a little bit and you are able to benefit from barbell complexes like we have. For a good idea of complexes to include in your training check out MDUSA Weightlifting and California Strength on YouTube. Between these two channels you will have more than enough complexes for your training program.