What’s a Barbell Complex?

February 7, 2017 by
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You know, that weightlifting thing that really strong people do, where they complete a bunch of barbell movements in a row. Actually, a good complex typically involves multiple rounds of three or more lifts– all without dropping the bar. Yeah, it gets heavy fast.


Because you’re going to become a better athlete. Barbell complexes are often used to train your weaknesses. Think strong clean but weak jerk. Strong power snatch but weak overhead squat. As Coach Mike Burgener shared with us, “If I have an athlete that has a weak jerk, I might do 1 clean, plus 3 front squats, plus 1 jerk. The reasoning for that is that I want the legs to be gassed before the jerk. I want to make the weightlifter strong where he is now weak….I want to make the weightlifter comfortable where he is now uncomfortable. Complexes have a way of taking care of that goal!”

Nuff said.


Bear Complex. A power clean + front squat + push press + back squat + push press. You have to perform the complex 7-times to complete one round. The whole workout consists of 5 rounds. (Fun Fact: A version of this complex made a special appearance in the 2016 Wodapolooza Online Qualifier.)

Curtis P Complex: A clean + 1 lunge on each leg + push press. Check out this video where SEALFIT demos the complex.

Shankle Complex: A deadlift + 3 hang clean pulls + hang clean + 2 jerks. Advice from Donny Shankle: “As you ‘split,’ think about putting the bar over your ears or behind the head instead of pushing your head through. By practicing this way, your ‘Dip and Drive’ will be straight.”

Think you’re ready to tackle the Rubik’s Cube of all barbell complexes? Let us introduce you to the Bergeron Big Clean Complex. Have fun, and don’t forget to tag us or email a link if you give one of these a shot.

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