Tutorial Thursday #27 – Why keep it simple when you can make it complex?

‘Why keep it simple when you can make it complex, too’? This is the question I ask myself for my workout. What I mean with this will be answered in this Tutorial Thursday.

Everyone of us has certainly done a classic workout. I mean the good old-fashioned procedure: 3-4 sets, with 8-12 repetitions etc.

Sure, this method of workout is absolutely fine and has been here all this time for a reason. I for myself admit to use it from time to time as a workout for muscle growth.

But sooner or later it will get very boring!!!

That’s why I tried out another method of training for my workout for the last couple of months.

Tutorial Thursday 27 - training complexe

Fabi is giving you complexes

So today let’s focus on a very interesting and more and more acknowledged trend: the so-called complex.

This is the name for an approach that combines different exercises which are done on the same fitness device and with the same weights. The combination normally includes a sequence of movements that stimulate the whole body. Each exercise is done with a certain amount of reputations and without any pause. Because of this a very high intensity is reached relatively quick, which supports massive gains of strength and a maximal stimulation of fat burning.

Don’t worry! I have not reinvented the wheel.

The roots of complex training date back 20 years ago. A bunch of coaches independently started to search for new methods to enhance their athletes’ gains of strength and increase their performance. Because the usual protocols at that time reached plateaus after a certain time, the coaches had the idea to combine different exercises directly and without any pause.

Is this something new?

Are complexes just a different way of doing circuit training? You could say, sure, but at the same time you couldn’t. It’s not that easy. As already mentioned, one of the most important factors of a complex is the fact that you do it with the same amount of weight and the same piece of equipment. That’s why you should choose the weight accordingly so that you can do every exercise with an adequate amount of repetitions.

3 examples for complexes:

    Should you be unclear about what a certain exercise actually is you should have a look in our glossary. In it we define certain terms from sport and fitness.
  • Moving Target Complex

    I have already introduced a very cool complex a couple of months ago in our Functional Fitness Frenzy: the ‘Moving Target Complex‘. A combination of exercises with kettlebells which aerobis Master Trainer Markus Brehmen introduced to us. Instead of using two kettlebells we have used a blackPack PRO. The weight should be adjusted in a way that you can can press it 6-8 times over your head.

    Each round the ‘target’ exercise is changed in the Moving Target Complex. Thus, the target exercise in round 1, for example, would be the squat. Each set, you do all three exercises in succession with the twist that the reps of the target exercise are increased by one each time you finish one combination. The maximum amount of reps for the target is 5. Therefore, an example complex would look something like this:

    Round 1:

    1 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat
    1 x Clean2x Press1x Front Squat
    1 x Clean3x Press1x Front Squat
    1 x Clean4x Press1x Front Squat
    1 x Clean5x Press1x Front Squat

    Round 2:

    1 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat
    1 x Clean1x Press2x Front Squat
    1 x Clean1x Press3x Front Squat
    1 x Clean1x Press4x Front Squat
    1 x Clean1x Press5x Front Squat

    Round 3:

    1 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat
    2 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat
    3 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat
    4 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat
    5 x Clean1x Press1x Front Squat

    If you want to know how we felt when we did this complex, look at Functional Fitness Frenzy #10!

  • Moving Target Complex - front squat

  • Barbell Complex

    Another great complex is best done with a barbell. This complex has no specific name which shouldn’t be an indicator for a lack of effectivity 😉


    • 5 x Bend over Row
    • 5 x Deadlift
    • 5 x Push press
    • 5 x Front Squat
    • 5 x Biceps Curl

    And then repeat this for a total of 6 rounds!!!

  • The ‘blackPack blackJack 21’

    This complex is the perfect fit for the blackPack or any other Sandbag. Choose the weight yourself but we recommend: 10 kg for beginners, 15 kg for advanced athletes, and 20 kg for pros. As with every other complex, do the blackPack blackJack 21 in one go and pause only if you really need to.

    Round 1:

    • 7 x Lunges
    • 7 x Hang Clean Squat
    • 7 x Lunges
    • 7 x Kneeling

    blackPack lunge training complex

    Round 2:

    • 14 x Lunges
    • 14x Hang Clean Squat
    • 14x Lunges
    • 14x Kneeling

    Round 3:

    • 21 x Lunges
    • 21 x Hang Clean Squat
    • 21 x Lunges
    • 21 x Kneeling

    The most important facts for you as an overview:

    Complexes form very effective and diversified alternatives for your workout. They are entertaining and have a very high intensity, that’s why they are able to bring your fitness to the next level. Choosing the right weights is of very high importance because the exercises should be done directly one after another without any pause. But as always the most important thing is: Have fun! And that was the case for me every time. Complexes are fun!

    On that note
    get functional!
    Your Fabien

Author: Fabien Mpouma

Fabien is bachelor of arts sportscience (DSHS) and since his studies he is working in the sector of health- and rehabilitation sports. He was course instructor for several institutions in the field of rehabilitation and mental and physical disease. He has a lot of experience in prevention with adults, youths, and children. He worked as regional manager for Outdoor Gym and now as a Personal Trainer and Foodcoach. Since 2014 he is Manager for Training & Education and Head Coach for aerobis. In 2016 he opened his own facility for Personal- and Grouptraining in his hometown Siegburg. Stay in contact with Fabien by sending him an email

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