Barbell Complex


What is a barbell complex

Barbell complex are a set of exercises performed one after the other without any rest. It’s like a giant set, when you complete one set of each exercise and then you take rest and then restart.

In barbell complex we use the same number of reps and weight for each exercise and each set. 

What makes a barbell complex so special is that you don’t leave the bar until you have completed all exercises for one round. This makes the workout really hard.

Barbell complex benefits

Barbell complex combines several movements in one workout. These complexes have many benefits.

  1. Strength and muscle building – barbell complex focus on a lot of compound exercises. These exercises help you build strength and muscle mass.
  2. Fat loss – conditioning barbell complex burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. They help you burn fat faster
  3. Aerobic capacity – these workouts lets you train at a higher rate of intensity. They are excellent in improving cardiovascular health.

Disadvantages of barbell complex

Barbell complexes are demanding on Nervous system. It is very easy to overtrain at a higher volume when doing barbell complexes. This can cause fatigue..

Complexes involving a lot of exercises may cause you to lose focus. It is advisable to stick to 3-5 exercises per complex.

Barbell complex can be challenging and you may find them effective as well. However, the body adapts to these workouts and it is recommended to change them every 3-4 weeks.

How to setup barbell complex

Here are few things you need to keep in mind for setting up the barbell complex


Why do you want to do the complexes? Do you want to improve strength on certain lifts, or you want to improve performance or conditioning or you want to lose fat. Your goal will help you decide the type of complex to choose

Time & Order

If your goal is to lose fat you may want to do the complexes early morning or after the workouts. If you want to build strength and improve lifts you may want to have a separate workout on its own.

Exercise selection and their order

You can go for upper body complex or full body complex or lower body complexes. Again your goal will help you decide the exercises for the complex

Weight selection

You have to keep the weight that is challenging enough but allows you to perform the complex as well. Keep your weakest lift in mind and choose weight accordingly.

Rest period

If your goal is to lose fat, you should keep smaller rest periods 60-90 secs between rounds. You can have a higher rest period if your goal is to build strength.


You should assess your strength improvements in the lifts as weeks progress and set challenging goals every week.

Types of barbell complex

The barbell complexes are designed to target multiple muscle groups and energy systems. 

We are going to cover different types of barbell complexes. Barbell complex can be of different types

  1. Full body complex
  2. Upper body complex
  3. Lower body complex
  4. Metabolic conditioning complex – to improve metabolic conditioning and fat buring
  5. Strength complex – works on improving strength in key movements

Barbell complex 1 : Bear Complex

The bear complex contains five movements

Power Clean

Front squat

Push Press

Back Squat

Push Press

All these five movements are performed in a go and you have to make sure you don’t put the barbell down.

Below is a sample Bear Complex workout routine

Round 1 to 5 Reps per Exercise Exercise
5 Power Clean
5 Front Squat
5 Push Press Front
5 Back Squat
5 Push Press Back

You can rest 2-3 minutes per round.

Barbell complex Javorek complex

This complex was designed by Coach Istvan Javorek. The complex focuses on building strength and power.

Barbell Upright Row x 6

Barbell High Pull Snatch  x 6

Barbell Behind the Head Squat Push Press x 6

Barbell Behind the Head Good Morning x 6

Barbell Bent Over Row x 6

For more details on complexes created by Istvan, check this link

Barbell complex crossfit

You will see a lot of crossfitters doing barbell complexes. These workouts improve strength, conditioning and metabolic capacity.

Here is a sample crossfit barbell complex

Exercise Reps
Deadlift 6
Hang Power Clean 6
Front Squat 6
Push Press 6
Back Squat 6

You can do 4 to 5 rounds of this complex. Make sure you take proper rest between each rounds.

Barbell complex mountain tactical

The MTI complex or mountain tactical complex is another variation of the barbell complex. It uses 6 exercises for six repetitions each. Below is the detail complex

Exercise Reps
Deadlift 6
Hang Power Clean 6
Front Squat 6
Push Press 6
Back Squat 6

Barbell complex women

A lot of women use barbell complexes. These can help in strength, performance, muscle and fat burning. Here is a sample barbell complex for women

Exercise Reps
Romanian Deadlift 6
Bent Over Row 6
Hang Clean 6
Front Squat 6
Push Press 6
Back Squat 6

Use this complex for 3 to 6 rounds, depending on your experience and strength levels. Keep a rest of 2-3 minutes between each complex

Barbell complex for fat loss

Barbell complexes are used for fat loss. Especially during the end of the workout as a finisher. These workouts help burn calories faster. Here is a barbell complex for fat loss

Exercise Reps
Deadlift 6
Bent Over Row 6
Hang Clean 6
Front Squat 6
Push Press 6

Barbell complex faq

What weight should I be for my barbell complex?

The amount of weight you use for the barbell complex depends on your experience and strength levels. Ideally you should pick a weight that allows you to complete the reps with proper form and technique. You should also consider the weight that allows you to perform your weakest lift properly.

When should I do barbell complex?

If you are planning to include a barbell complex in your workouts then you can do them to either boost your fat loss or to improve workout performance.

For fat loss you can do the barbell complex early morning or after your workouts as a finisher. To improve exercise performance you can use the barbell complex as a workout on its own.

How many calories do you burn in a barbell complex?

The number of calories burnt during the barbell complex depends on certain factors like body weight, exercises in the complex, the amount of weight used in the complex, and the intensity of the exercises.

On average you can burn 300-400 calories in a 30 mins barbell complex workout. You can use a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker to determine calories accurately.

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