Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Circuits and Complexes

My last post outlined a change to circuit training that I made a couple weeks ago.  Over the past 5 months, I've made big gains and reached some limits.  I've acclimated to a heavier weight, but that upper weight limit has not moved in about a month.  Any clinical research or anecdotal experience will tell you that strength gains occur rapidly at first and then plateau, and mine has.  I've been looking for a way to break that plateau.

I've been studying questions about my volume over those last 2 months, and I'm intrigued that I stumbled onto "complexes" currently being published by Master RKC Geoff Neupert.  Most of the books will say that I'm not advanced enough to do double kettlebell lifts or max VO2 snatches or this or that because I haven't completed the SSST or pressed half my bodyweight, then say that the way to massive gains in presses and snatches is to follow their book.  I just need to change "something".  I'm having good success and improved recovery with short, dense complexes.

Geoff's article in the summer 2010 Hardstyle Magazine from Dragondoor describes complexes as groups of exercises performed in an uninterrupted sequence with the same weight.    Geoff's example complex looks like this, all done without setting down the weight.

  • Begin complex -
    + Double Swings x5
    + Double High Pulls x5
    + Double Military Presses x5
    + Front Squats x5
    + Rest 120 seconds, perform five complexes

The rest necessary between traditional strength sets is provided by the time between sets of an individual exercise.  A mantra quoted to victims at the Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge workshop was "doing something different is rest", so your shoulders get roughly 3 minutes rest between sets of military presses.

I made a transition to (what I called) circuit training some months ago, as I just got tired of wasting the time between consecutive press ladders.  I've already posted my reasons for intermingling swings, and the design keeps me performing well throughout the session.  There wasn't much sophistication in the decision, but it did evolve into something deliberate and useful.  Copied from my last post.

  • Begin circuit -
    + Swings: 24/min 2H, then 20/min 1H (2min)

    + 5-rung MP ladder
    + 5 Goblet Squats
    + 60step overhead walk on each arm (roughly the perimeter of my gym's rooftop)

    + 1-2min active recovery (shorter than usual), perform 5-6 circuits
    + finish with 6-8min of swings as outlined above

I finished 6 circuits as shown above on my last "long" day, which shows I'm performing well once I warm up.  A separate heavy-bell complex day each week has me acclimating to get-ups and cleans at 8kg up from my regular pressing bell, over 1/3 my bodyweight.  This is paying serious dividends in  strength and saving me hours of time each week.  I'm also a little intrigued by the ROP use of 5x5-rung ladders vs so many strength trainers' use of 5x5 sets.  I've done high volume, but I eventually could not recover fully between 3 sessions a week at any serious weight or accelerated pace.  I'm migrating my way into short, intense complexes with full recovery between workouts, and it's bearing good fruit so far.  I may not be lifting double 24s or otherwise qualified to do this kind of work, but it's still yielding good results.

No comments:

Post a Comment