‘Complex training’, the brainchild of Dr Yuri Verkhoshansky, is training that uses exercises that work in synergy to produce adaptive changes. If a complex training regime is properly designed, the whole effect of the training program is greater than the sum of the effects of the individual exercises.
Nowadays, the term is used nearly exclusively to refer to complexes of plyometric exercises and maximal strength training exercises.
It has been demonstrated that strength training plus plyometrics leads to greater increases in power than either alone. In fact, the power gains from complex training are greater than the sum of the gains from strength training alone and from plyometrics alone; there is clearly some synergy at work. Not only that, but doing a single complex training session with both plyometrics and strength training leads to greater increases in power than doing them on different days. No one is quite sure why this is.
Research has yielded three important practical considerations that I want to share with you to help you design a complex training program.
The first is that strength exercises should always come first in the complex. It’s always strength, then plyometrics – never plyometrics, then strength. Got it? Good.
The second thing we’ve learnt is that plenty of rest should be given between sets. You should rest for at least three to four minutes between the strength exercises and the plyometrics exercises. Following the plyometrics exercises, the ext set of strength exercises can be done after a minute or two.
The third research finding is that heavier weights seem to be best for potentiating plyometrics. You could do a set of 8 reps with 70% of your max, then do plyometrics, but this is not ideal. For maximal power gains from complex training, weights of 90-95% of your one-rep max should be used for one or two reps.
Take this research and use it to empower yourself!