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1 Piece of Kit, Unlimited Awesome Potential.

I was supposed to write you an awesome blog post for today, I had planned to get it done this morning before the day kicked off with training people, but Son #1 had other ideas.

And when it comes to answering your questions on strength, fitness, awesomeness and the like or answering his question on why worms have that fat bit in the middle. Well he wins!

So, the fat bit on an earthworm is called the Clitellum and it’s where the worm keeps its eggs. Cool eh?


But after we spent the morning googling earthworms, I left for Wild Geese to spend the day helping a variety of people develop beast like levels of strength and conditioning for their sports, or simply for their daily lives. Many if my crew follow their bespoke programmes but most of the guys looking for general fitness simply follow the daily workout on the wall. End result, it’s now late in the evening and you’re going to read this tomorrow instead.


Today was largely considered to be a tough session.

Every now and then I like to throw out what we call a “Complex”

Complex training is nothing new, it’s simply a string of exercises performed back to back with a single piece of kit. The weight of choice is not to be set down untill the entire complex is complete. This means that you are under tension for an extended duration, even though you are hitting different movements, the entire system is under load until the sequence is finished.

It’s circuit trainings evil little brother!


This style of training has been very popular with combat athletes, particularly wrestlers since the dawn of strength training. It is as close to being in a fight as you’ll get, without being in a fight.

You can build a complex with pretty much any kit you have to hand, be it a barbell, dumbbells, Kettles or a sandbag. Naturally, we tend to use kettles the most. I like the fact that the limbs are working independently  which isn’t practical with the sandbag or bar. I also really like the way they sit in the rack position, compressing the chest and restricting breathing, much like it would be in a grappling scenario.

Randy "The Natural" Couture used complexes throughout his incredible career

Randy “The Natural” Couture used complexes throughout his incredible career

Thought must be put into how you create the complex, each exercise must flow into the next. The simplest example would be to Clean/Squat/Press. Three moves, each starts where the last one finishes.

Today’s workout was as follows:

1A: Push Up/Renegade Row combo 1B: Deadlift 1C: Cleans 1D: Thrusters 1E: Front Squats 4-6 reps per drill, 4-6 rounds

You can see how they transition smoothly from one drill to the next covering the entire body, hitting the main movement patterns. At no point in the series do you need to let go or change your grip on the bells.

This was done for 4-6 reps per drill, this meant the lads could go somewhat heavy. But the rep range you choose should be commensurate (that’s your word of the day, you must use it in conversation at least once today!) with your training goals. If you’re looking for fat loss or conditioning, up the reps, try 8 – 12 (just keep a bucket handy) If you’re looking for mass, the 4-6 range is ideal. For power, drop to 1-5 reps and ensure the each rep is performed explosively.

Back in my competitive days I used to use a barbell complex once per week which sucked. It’s a series that’s been around for ever and goes:

1A: Deadlift 1B: Romanian Deadlift 1C: Bent Over Row 1D: Hang Clean 1E: Press 1F: Back Squat 1G: Reverse Lunge

What made this particularly rough was the reps and loading scheme used. On the first round I’d do 10 reps per drill. On each subsequent round I’d add weight and drop a rep until I was simply doing singles. After a few weeks, I was unstoppable. I hated life, but I could kick serious arse!

Here’s a couple of guidelines to develop your own complexes:

  1. Choose 3 or more exercises or exercise combinations. Don’t get carried away, less is very often more

  2. Arrange the exercises in a logical order so that they flow with no grip changes needed. If using a bar, it should only pass over head once, ie finishing a press and moving to a back squat.

  3. Use big compound movements and hit all the primary movement patterns of: Upper body Push/Pull Hip Hinge Squat Single leg (if appropriate)

  4. Ensure you are competent with the exercises as fatigue will kick in!

So there you go. A guide to building serious fitness, strength and even mass with only a single piece of kit and a tiny bit of floorspace.



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