Complexes for Weight Loss And Overall Conditioning
resurrected from AskScooby Forum from excellent posting made by user dodothebird
So when I wrote the article Giant Sets For Weight Loss And Gaining Muscle, there was a reason I posted it under Bulking Up And Gaining Muscle section. Giant sets are actually used in the weight lifting world just like supersets, antagonist pairings, compound sets, etc. Even though I have no weight problem, I enjoy doing them. It lets you do high volumes in shorter period of time, without sacrificing intensity. More calorie deficit in shorter time is a bonus but you shouldn’t mistakenly think that giant sets are not for you if your goal is not weight loss. It works for hypertrophy and strength too but I just think it is one of the best principles for an overweight person to follow for weight lifting sessions to be able to work with high intensity and break the rule that “Lifting weights doesn’t burn much calories”.
Today I want to talk about complexes, which are both good for building muscle and weight loss like giant sets, but this is more on weight loss side so I’m sending this here. I learned this from a boxer friend of mine a few years ago. They did complexes for overall conditioning and strength endurance (It’s different from “endurance” in general context). If you’re a masochist, love getting pain, screaming, or seek overall conditioning, you can do complexes. But I also want to address people who want to lose weight.
Firstly, complexes are not circuit training. I despise high reps/low weight for weight loss What is a complex then? A series of movements. You’ll get a barbell or a couple of dumbbells, and you’ll be commited to it for a while. You’ll do a few reps of an exercise, then another, and another, until you finish the series. You will not put the barbell/dumbbells down even for a second. Get ready for the pain.
If you want an example, let me tell you one of my favourite ones. I like this one because it is easy to remember and works whole body. Get an olympic barbell, put it on the floor and load plates heavy enough for you to do 10 reps standing military presses while fresh. We are starting: Do 10 reps of deadlift. Stay upright at the lockout position of the last rep of deadlifts, and do 10 reps of hang cleans. After catching the barbell on shoulders at the 10th rep, rest the barbell there for a second and do 10 reps of clean grip front squats. When you finish, do military presses as many as you can. Remember, you had picked a weight that you could do for 10 reps while fresh, but right now your shoulders and traps are burning from hang cleans, your heart rate is up from squats, you’re breating hard and sweating, you won’t be able to complete 10 reps. That’s okay, do as many as you can do with a good form, then lower the weight to your thighs (you’re still holding it), bend over and do ten reps of bent-over rows. You can do regular bent-over rows or pendlay rows, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re dead. Drop the bloody bar and rest for a couple minutes. You’ve only done ONE set. You have still 3 sets to do.
You can do this with dumbbells too. My favourite dumbbell complex contains overhead lunges (Holding the dumbbells over head), but you have endless options for complexes. The key is that, choose a series of bloody exercises that work different muscles and load the barbell/dumbbell according to the exercise that lets you use the least weight.
A good complex should have at least one upper body pushing, one upper body pulling, one lower body exercise. Number of exercises? You have no limit. But if you try to do 10 exercises in a row, it can really get “complex”, because you’d forget the order of exercises. You can solve this problem by having a list in front of you while you do this but you really need a high fitness level to be able to do 10 compound exercises without a rest. The complex example with 5 exercises I wrote above is enough to make most people want to cry and vomit. However, if you’re a true masochist and include a bloody exercise like overhead squats, even a naked barbell can be heavy enough. Everybody is different though, it depends on your fitness level. I guatantee you’ll understand the meaning of “intensity”.
There is another way of doing complexes; and that is total body lifts. Instead of doing a few reps before moving to another exercise, you do one rep of each and when you complete the series, it’s just one rep. If you take the example I wrote above, you start with doing one deadlift, and you do one hang clean, front squat, military press and barbell rows. That’s only one rep. Aim to do 10 reps to finish one set. Again, you have endless options, just choose a series of exercises that work your whole body. These total body lifts got me mentally ready for olympic lifts, which are the best movements for power.
You can do 4 set of barbell complexes, or alternate barbell and dumbbell complexes, you have endless options to design how you work with these too. Weight lifting paramets such as 5×5, 3×15 apply to complexes too. Just keep in mind, “one set” and “one rep” won’t be traditional way but it will be “complex” and painful, that’s it. By the way, painful doesn’t mean a significant muscle will burn, but you’ll be in pain all over.
Like I said, I know some boxers do this for overall conditioning and strength endurance (I bet it also helps them get used to pain!). Obviously, you can’t talk to anyone whilst doing this as opposed to do steady jogging, and you’ll have much more to focus on than questioning “Urgh, is my heart rate high enough?”. This will make sure you don’t lose muscle, but build some if anything. Since you’ll be COMBINING exercises that already have high metabolic cost alone, your total metabolic cost will be super high and that way you can take more advantage of post-exercise calorie consumption effect, burning a lot of calories after you finish your exercise. You also won’t get bored of steady cardio (Well if you don’t have problem with that, it’s personal preferrence but I have always got bored of jogging). Maybe you’ll curse yourself for calling cardio boring because you will see how painful ways there are Of course still do cardio, but alternating complexes with high intensity cardio (Variations of HIIT but not exactly) worked for me, along with using giant sets without sacrificing intensity and volume when it came to weight lifting.
A special note on nutrition here since it’s a must for weight loss: I’m saying I worked with high intensity as opposed to what is recommended for weight loss. As for nutrition, I calculated my protein requirement after substracting my fat mass from total weight. I’ve always believed a person needs one gram of protein per one pound of lean body mass, not total mass. I kept calories from fat equal to calories from protein, and got a bit more carbs than that. The ratio of calories was 30/30/40 (Protein/Fat/Carbs). Most people won’t want that much fat, but then you’ll need to eat more carbs. Shortly, get one gram of protein per one pound of lean body mass, and keep calories from protein at 30% of your total caloric intake. I used many diets within the time I was trying to lose weight, but that’s what worked best for me and it’s still the meal plan I’m following. By the way, as I lost fat, I gained muscle (My arms increased 1.5 cm even though I barely did direct arm workouts), therefore I don’t really get how people manage to lose muscle and why it’s so hard to gain muscle while losing fat. If I keep hearing this often, I will start to believe that long cardio hinders the muscle gain process. I don’t believe it does but I don’t really have much of an experience with steady, long cardio. I believe as long as you still increase the performance in the weight room (Forcing your body to get stronger and NOT letting yourself suffer from hunger), you’ll not lose muscle but gain some.
Anyway, back to the subject. Sure, many people will object because I recommend complexes as an alternative to cardio, and complexes use weights but people really hate the idea of using a muscle group more than once a week. However, it amazes me to see they are not concerned about overtraining their elbow joints when they do curls for a whole hour. I prefer to train like a caveman instead. Instead of jogging for an hour or two, they’d often sprint (to catch or escape), throw stones, cut things hard, climb trees for fruits. Brief but really intense works that challenged their body totally. They did it daily to survive. They had to stay strong or would be dead. I don’t like betraying my ancestors and genes, especially when it gives me good results. Well sure they walked to find new places, etc but I’m not counting walking, I walk to work everyday too but I don’t count it as cardio or exercise. It’s my daily need to save some bucks and it is not really that challenging By the way, I’m not mimicking what they did but from trial and error, what’s worked best for me in the weight room so far is similar to the life style they had. And I do enjoy it. (Sure bodybuilding and strongman trainings are different but I’ve yet to see a skinny man in strongman competitions. However, I’ve seen many bulky people who were weak for their size. I’d choose the former.)
Hmm, I’m rambling because I know I had more stuff to write and trying to remember that. This is the disadvantage of writing ad lib, but I’ll let you know when I remember. See you guys, hopefully with wider chest, smaller waist next time!
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