Workout Wednesday: Barbell Complex

Ah, the barbell complex. The little known, vastly underused form of fitness where you can quickly combine a strength and cardio workout into one.


Many of the workouts I post on these “Workout Wednesdays” end up being things that you can do quickly, or on the go. Since we’re all so busy all the time, I figure that’s what a lot of people need most, especially since a top excuse for not working out is not having enough time! This one, although it does need some gym equipment, can certainly be done as a quickie or as a finisher to a longer workout, and that’s what’s so great about it. If you’re a beginner to weight lifting, I would recommend sticking to just the barbell itself and making this your entire workout. If you’re a little bit more advanced but don’t have much time, just add a little bit of weight and work work work — this is definitely the type of workout where you get out of it exactly what you put into it.

The key with a barbell complex is to string together a grouping of exercises that you can do sequentially, with out breaks in between. Yes, your muscles will burn. Yes, your heart rate will go way up and you’ll be breathing heavy. Yes, you will get a full body workout with this in just a very short time. Sound good?

One thing to remember is that although you can attach this as a finisher to another longer workout, I do not recommend doing so to a workout that is already extremely taxing on your CNS, such as a heavy lift day or HIIT session. This should go along with a lighter lift or a lighter cardio day, so that you are sure you can keep good form throughout each portion of the complex. For instance, I did this at the end of a moderate spin session, but I wouldn’t have done this after doing high intensity hill sprints or a heavy dead lift day.



barbell complex 

For the lunges and RDLs, that’s 5 reps for each leg before moving on to the next exercise. Please be careful when transferring the barbell to the low row position from the front loaded position; if you need to re-wrack momentarily for safety, that’s ok! 

Remember during all of these: Keep your core engaged (but don’t forget to breathe!), and keep your back flat. It’s not a bad idea to video your first round from the side view so that you can look at your form (especially your back), and make sure that you’re maintaining a good position even when you start to get fatigued.

Complete each exercise in the series for the reps provided. Try not to rest between exercises during the complex, but take 2-3 minutes rest between each one. Repeat this to your ability, generally if this is done as your whole workout you would do 4-5 rounds.


2 thoughts on “Workout Wednesday: Barbell Complex

  1. Hey, enjoyed the post! Good read! Am quite new to this, I’ve started a new blog where I’m looking to go 3 months sober and train/gym every weekday, eating healthy along the way. Maybe take a look if you’re interested! Enjoy your day! Thanks.

  2. Yes! This looks awesome! We do workouts like this as part of a “Fast & Furious” class I take at a new gym I’m teaching at. Totally feel the burn by the end.

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