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Barbell complexes are great for building endurance, adding strength-based cardio to your workouts, and torching fat, says Alyssa Ages, an athlete with PowerNYC Training and trainer at Global. As you feel barbell complexes aren’t easy. But, they are killer for building muscle and burning fat over your entire body. Stay safe out there and use a weight that allows you to keep good form. Push the pace and enjoy the reward of a harder, leaner body.

Use Barbell Complexes to Burn Fat and Build Muscle If you find your fat loss progress stalling at the eternal conveyor-track of the treadmill, you are not alone. Upper-body emphasis complex: Reps of 5-5-5-5. Rest 2:00 between rounds. Barbell Row – pronated grip Hang Muscle Clean Push Press *Add weight each round building to a heavy set. Total-body emphasis complex: Reps of 5-5-5-5-5.

Rest 2:00 between rounds. How To Use The Barbell Complex To Build Muscle and Burn Fat. A barbell complex workout is perfect if you have have just set up your garage gym and the only exercise equipment you have is an Olympic barbell and bumper plates. You can really use it anytime for a great workout. On the other hand, you could workout in a gym with with every equipment you will ever need, and a barbell complex.

The non-stop action of barbell complexes is what makes them so tough. There is a tremendous amount of demand placed on your muscles and cardiovascular system creating the perfect one-two punch for building muscle and burning fat! Why Complexes are Superior to Cardio Cardio isn’t the most effective way to burn fat. Conditioning type workouts will help you look lean and athletic by building muscle and burning fat at the same time.

A Barbell Complex Workout As mentioned earlier, these types of workouts are different as they require you to hold on to a barbell during the entire duration of the exercises. By including barbell complexes regularly in your program, whether at the end of your training or as a separate workout, you’ll be able to watch body fat disappear and build a world-class conditioning level at the same time. Complexes: Not That Complex. How to Use Complexes to Build Muscle & Burn Fat.

Complexes are the perfect tool for those looking to get more out of their workouts. Give these variations a try to maximize your muscle building & fat loss. No one has ever said building muscle and losing fat was easy.

If you know anyone who has been successful at it, they’ll surely tell you it takes hours of. Conditioning type workouts will help you look lean and athletic by building muscle and burning fat at the same time. A Barbell Complex Workout As mentioned earlier, these types of workouts are different as they require you to hold on to a barbell.

List of related literature:

Build muscle, yes, but to lose fat simultaneously?

“Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors” by Randy Roach
from Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors
by Randy Roach
AuthorHouse, 2008

Again, building and maintaining muscle, alone, is the most effective way to burn fat and calories.

“You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women” by Joshua Clark, Mark Lauren and, Clark Joshua, Lauren Mark
from You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises for Men and Women
by Joshua Clark, Mark Lauren and, Clark Joshua, Lauren Mark
ReadHowYouWant.com, Limited, 2010

Fortunately, we don’t need to because we can simply train with heavier weights, which is equally (if not more) effective for muscle gain, and far less grueling.

“Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body” by Michael Matthews
from Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body
by Michael Matthews
Waterbury Publishers, Incorporated, 2019

That said, it is clearly possible to build muscle while losing body fat (i.e., in an energy deficit) as reported in the literature (23, 80); the extent of hypertrophy, however, will be less than that achieved in a caloric surplus.

“Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy” by Brad Schoenfeld
from Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy
by Brad Schoenfeld
Human Kinetics, 2020

In other words, if you learn to use your body as a barbell then you’ll always have the ability to obtain a great workout.

“Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy” by Bret Contreras
from Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy
by Bret Contreras
Human Kinetics, 2013

And exercises such as barbell rows and deadlifts also stress the same muscles.

“Natural Bodybuilding” by John Hansen
from Natural Bodybuilding
by John Hansen
Human Kinetics, 2005

This strategy is also a good basic diet for overweight strength trainers who want to lose body fat.

“Power Eating-4th Edition” by Susan Kleiner, Maggie Greenwood-Robinson
from Power Eating-4th Edition
by Susan Kleiner, Maggie Greenwood-Robinson
Human Kinetics, 2013

You can’t effectively (and naturally) build muscle when you’rein acalorie deficit unless you’re new to weightlifting (moreon exactly whysoon), you can’t lose fat when you’re in a calorie surplus,and youcan’t “hack” your metabolism by eating exotic nutsor drinking coffee laden with gobs of fat.

“Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Advanced Guide to Shattering Plateaus, Hitting PRs, and Getting Shredded” by Michael Matthews
from Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Advanced Guide to Shattering Plateaus, Hitting PRs, and Getting Shredded
by Michael Matthews
Oculus Publishers, 2014

Additionally, few studies incorporate exercise, which has been shown to improve fat loss while sparing muscle loss.

“The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner” by Lyle McDonald, Elzi Volk
from The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for the Dieter and Practitioner
by Lyle McDonald, Elzi Volk
Lyle McDonald, 1998

The purpose of this workout routine goes beyond losing fat or gaining muscles—it provides the basis for developing a functional body.

“The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse for High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body” by Ori Hofmekler
from The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse for High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body
by Ori Hofmekler
North Atlantic Books, 2007

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

[email protected]

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71 comments

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  • I do all theses types of exercises, I don’t lift heavy weights cause I don’t have the time and I’m past trying to look like an Adonis…

  • Hi Erin ����all the way from South Africa, watching this in 2020 while our country is in lockdown and our gyms are closed. I have dumbbells at home and resistance bands but no barbells. How can I achieve the same effect with these, anyone?

  • Great workout..but this is not for anyone with weak wrist…you must be careful with jerking weight with your wrist. it can hurt people without the proper form..and hand positioning….again good routine..����‍♀️����‍♀️����‍♀️

  • I did essentially the same thing today but with 25lb dumbells and back lunges instead of deadlifts. 3 rounds with 90 seconds rest in between and 8 reps each. with the lifts + the rest time it all took less than 10 minutes and it felt comparable to running maybe 1.5 miles at a brisk pace as far as how tired I was. and the muscles involved of course are body wide. so this definitely seems like a more efficient form of Cardio while also building some muscle. Good nutrition and doing these maybe 3times a week seems like itd be a killer fat loss combo

  • 63 yrs old and interested in your video, just wish you had actually went through the whole process where I could workout following you.

  • Hi Erin this is awesome will use as my Sat full body workout after 5 day muscle break down and rest sunday. Hate cardio this will burn some calories for sure!!!

  • Hi Erin Im a 42 y/y mum with 4 kids. Im in love with lifting weights but since Im with IUCD, I worry to go heavy (so far i got only 30 lbs as my heaviest) Pls adv n I ask others to share me their experience too. Thx alot. Greetings from Indonesia ❤

  • I’m going to try it out for weight loss.I just did two set’s,I’m going to do another day after tomorrow.I’ll post about my progress,thanks.

  • Erin, these are great complexes, and amazingly tiring with just the bar! PS, you seem like such a sweetheart, I love waiting for your next video!

  • Thank you for this video! I’m very new to barbell exercises but excited to get started. Could someone please explain why / if it’s necessary to hitch the bar up? I don’t know if it’s just something you have to do as part of the technique or if there’s a specific benefit from it, thanks in advance:P

  • Erin you are so hot and you’re one of the few bodybuilders that I like because you don’t use PED’s at least it doesn’t look like you do!

  • The form seemed to be there throughout the whole set! Awesome job! I agree with you about not having to have perfect form when doing these, because it is not the point of the exercise. The point is to burn fat and build muscle and size but obviously anyone that lifted before knows what proper form is to not injure themselves, proper not perfect lol ��

  • I’ve been giving these a go this week. Looks are deceiving, they are much harder than you would think! I couldn’t even finish the olympic lifting one, ran out of gas on 3rd round haha. Mind you, I’ve never done any of those movements before, but, I was only using 20 kg bar + 2×5 kg plates. Thought it would be easy! I thought wrong:D

  • If I do this this with the kettlebell exercise 3 or 4 times a week do you think this will be enough to lose let’s say 30 pounds? Following a strict diet of course

  • I did the barbell complex today LOVE IT! so many things u can do with it. Incredibly taxing!! I’m going to even add curls and squats to it next week. Thank u erin your amazing!

  • Today I started these exercise I planned to do Monday Wednesday Friday….. In between these days Tuesday and Thursday I planned to do cardio…. Is it good to stick with a plan?

  • thank you brother. i do these on mondays….but question, i do a HIIT training workout with the bike or elliptical on tue and thu. is it still ok to do this barbell complex in the same week? thank you!!

  • Yay!! I did this today. What a amazing workout.

    I was increasing weights at every set and my god I couldn’t do last set continuously where I used barbell of 40kgs in total.

    Here is what I did.

    Set 1. Just barbell 20kgs
    Set 2. Added 5 kgs.
    Set 3. Added 5 more.
    Set 4. Added 10 more.
    Set 5. Same as set 4.

    Freaking awesome workout.

    Thank you so much. This was crazy.

  • This workout has saved me during isolation at home with 3 kids!! Thank you! How many sets of 5 reps should I do in total? Thanks again!

  • A lot of form Karen’s here. You dont like the vid get the fuck out of here. Take your estrogen back to sword fighting with your mates

  • I need the guy hitting the boxing bag to hit it with authority man! Gotta strengthen up those wrists and build callus on the knuckles…plus he’s not gonna get tired like that! Someone play that man Eye of the tiger so that he can work that bag properly.

  • Maybe you mentioned it and I missed it but, how many rounds would you typically do? Just one round as shown or try to string some together? I’ve seen where some do one rep less as you ladder down and go through the lifts.

  • mbn to strict clean lol i have to drive through with my hips to get it up to my shoulders! i’m trying to get toned by October! if you guys have any barbell wods or dumbbell wods or body weight send them my way i can’t go to my box because i can’t afford it and that’s all the equipment i have and a jump rope lol

  • Hello bro. Am from India. Im a girl. And 27 years old. I want to lose my weight. Without any other excercise can i do this only for that. Moreover im using 22.68 kg weight totally. So how many days and how many reps should i do for loss fat? And i have bigger hips. I really hate it. So help me. Im waiting for your reply. Thank you in advance ♥ And which is the best time to do this?

  • Wow Erin! I’ve been following you for a while but stopped for a bit. You’re looking really strong now! Great info with the barbell complex. I will definitely try it. Keep the videos coming.

  • Hey Erin! Question. How many of these complexes can I do in one day? Assuming there’s four exercises in each 4-6 reps per exercise. Can I build a mesocycle with theses and strictly only do complexs for 4-6 weeks block period
    Without over training? Thank you in advance ����

  • Erin you are awesome. Your videos work and have not only changed my physique but given me a true love for weight lifting vs the cardio they they pedal to woman claiming its effective. God bless you and what your doing.

  • HEY BRO I AM 18 YRS OLD CAN I DO THIS EXERCISE TO LOOOSE WEIGHT BECAUSE I AM OVERWEIGHT 120 KG AND PLSSE TELL HOW MANY DAYS IN WEEK SHOULD I DO THIS EXERCISE PLSE REPLY DEAR

  • In between rounds, how long is your resting period? And, do you modify this resting period as weeks go by so as to increase the workout intensity? Recommendation for beginners?

  • Great informative video. Could you please share how many days in a week this can be performed? Is it good to have it for 5 days a week for fat loss? Please suggest

  • Girl I love your videos and your physique! Just a tip, not being shady….with a red lip just keep the blush subtle or none at all, because it looks too harsh with red lip and almost the same color blush, you’re beautiful!!!

  • Thank you for sharing and explaining any detail of the barbell complex clearly. I just found and subscribed your channel today. I love to exercise with the barbell, such as barbell squat, clean press and deadlift…etc. I would get a trying to do a barbell complex.

  • I’ve been doing this for a few years. I do an overhead press, front squat, bent over row, to a deadlift. I work down in the reps from 6 to one with about 45 sec. to a minute in between and do around 40 minutes total. You can do it with dumbells too. I quit doing the behind shoulders squat because it was hard on the shoulders lifting over my head and on to them. The front squat is just as good if not better. I do it once a week and if you do it right that’s all you need. I quit running and just do this as I find running just breaks you down. Although wind sprints are good and keep you charged too.

  • Im currently doing a m/w/f Pull push legs routine 3 sets of 4-6 reps 90 sec rest in between sets and currently getting strength and size gainz. Im 5’10 193lb at 15% bf and would like to cut down a bit. How and when would you recommend throwing in a barbell complex? 1 a week, 2 times? And if so what day.

  • Any suggestions on how to choose the correct weight, how many sets, when to consider going up in weight, how many times to do per week and if there is a need to do other isolated excersises in between. thanks

  • I didn’t know you had a book, and I just bought it on Amazon so I could find some great new training tips and information. Thank you!

  • Awesome! I love bb complexes. I did one today, front squat, back squat, pushpress and good mornings. I was completely cooked afterwards. Lol ����‍♂️

  • Thank you Erin!! I just recently found you and I Love Love your content, you’re straight to the point, explain things so well and give excellent work out tips and examples! I wish I found you earlier but I’m glad I have now. This will be my workout in the AM. Thank You for sharing!!

  • This looks FUN and super taxing! I’m definitely going to try this! Erin really has cool workouts I especially love the medicine ball workouts for abs.

  • These barbell complexes are the ��.com‼️ I use the first two as warm-up/cardio before my upper body workout today and it helped a great deal. Erin thank you so much for all the informative content you post here!

  • Great complex mate. Liked how reps are less for shoulder as it could be hared to do. I admit I have not tried it yet but It has made me get a bar from amazon as a start:-) will comment back when actually do the exercises

  • Well my list was,
    1. Power Clean
    2. Bent over rows
    3. Deadlift
    4. Shoulder press
    5. Back Squats

    Is that effective enough?
    Even I vary the reps based on exercises.. and 1-2 mins of rest depends on how much I am out of air..
    Is that any good?

  • I just got one of those bars yesterday and I worked out for the first time with it. It was such a blast!!! I’m gonna do this workout today and subscribe, thank you!!

  • Is it good to do this exercise daily? In case if I do these exercise on Monday Wednesday Friday then what you prefer on remaining days (tuesday and Thursday).

  • This was great and will try this. The shorter the better. However I have one issue bad knees. Any suggestions?
    How many rounds?

  • Thanks so much for posting this!!! Iv always been super scared to do weights any sort, scared im not doing it right able to do this at home step by step pause and re watch over and over and i can say i got through it!:) thanks again

  • I love this workout:) Please keep posting…. Please reveals a month workout plan… love to follow…

    1. Step 1 Completed Successfully Time 00:25 AM India (I can feel the Impact on belly, Hands, Shoulders..)
    2. Step 2 Completed Successfully time 00:40 AM
    3. Step 3 I did in the morning

    Day 4 I am loving it 6 reps/Day All 3 steps. This is awesome and loving the changes. 81.3kg Weight now

    EditDate8 june 2020
    Weight is 73.4 kg now
    This workout is awesome. Upper body and work pretty good on stomach. Belly fat cut down to half.

  • I started training 2 months ago, but after I tried this my heart beats like crazy and sweat keep for 1 hour after.
    But the weird thing that I got soreness in my legs same I got it when I start lift weights.. I never thought it’s that hard. I managed the 4 sets in 20 minutes only, but felt better than the 1 hour I used to work out
    Thanks man for this great tactic.

  • I crossfit 3-4 times a week. I wanted to do something different on my off days. I’ll definitely incorporate these types of complexes to maintain strength and muscle. Great idea! Thanks! Keep up the hard work.

  • I did a barbell complex workout on Wednesday! Military press, front squat, bent over row, deadlift and back squat! Did 5 rounds in 20 mins! Then I did a few hiit sessions! I was gassed out! lol! Gruelling but enjoyed it

  • Way to much emphasis on the lower back for a complex like this. Get rid of the good morning and change for cleans or upright rows.

  • Barbell only workout:
    push ups
    front squats
    Overhead press (No jerk)
    bent rows
    RDLs
    burpees
    Start with ten reps per movement and go all the way down to 1 rep per movement. Do it as fast as you can. I started with 95 pounds and once i broke 30 minutes, I went up to 115. i am not close to breaking 30 minutes but it is a great workout. Very challenging, It has leaned me out and the cardio benefits are awesome. I only do it max 3 times in 7 days. Good Luck. Don’t puke.

  • Deadlift 10 to 20 reps
    Overhead strict press 10 to 12 reps
    Squats 10 to 12 reps
    Bent over row 10 to 20 reps
    Barbell press on the floor 10 to 20 reps
    Barbell Ab rolls 8 to 12 reps
    Dumbbell gorilla curls 10 to 20 reps
    Overhead tricep press 20 to 30 reps

  • thanks i am gonna give this a shot, i started with stronglifts mid February i got up to 300 pounds on squat and deadlifts i am older too at 47 now my knees are sore and i gained lots of weight, i need to shed and something less radical.

    I love this circuit so easy with 1 bb i might go up to 10 reps i will see.

  • Tried this the other day. This is a legit workout. Was glad front squats were part of it too. I traded fronts out for back squats a few months ago and they always kick my butt. Thabks for the vid man

  • Im a former lifter that has gotten some belly fat, started lifting again, doing full body at the moment,,, can i do these only as my workout or should i sprinkle them in, trying to lose fat while slowing gaining muscle back

  • I’ve been doing them for a year now. I go 6 to one and rest 45 seconds between each one. I quit running to do this and it’s working quite well.

  • Great complex circuit! I’ve done it before and it exhaustive!!! You make it looks easy lol….you’re a machine ���� �� ����
    I love your YouTube contents keep doing that!
    Quick question, doesn’t it matter if I did for example legs and then I want to do the complex as a HIIT cardio?
    If I can do it, how often can I do it in the week if I train 5-6 days a week?
    Thanks ��

  • Can we get a video on arms!? Please??How to attain toned, flabby-less arms. How to lose stubborn fat in arms. Thank you! Love your videos!

  • Dear Erin although I have a longs way to go my son and husband pointed out how great my arms are looking they were impressed when I made a muscle. I’m feeling great thanks to your advice and me putting work into it. You’re my role model. Thanks so much

  • Does doing this in a light weight for example 40 pounds barbell, will it burn fat but retain muscle? because the goal here is gaining strength without mass. Hoping for your answer man

  • Thank you for this workout. Tried two sets two days ago followed by a couple of Kettlebell sets, then managed three sets this morning with heavier weight on the bar. Feel great after!

  • OK Erin at the moment I could not do the overhead squat in the last round, my balance was off and I didn’t feel right. Maybe it was the fast pace trying to keep up with you but I had to put the bar behind my head it was much better. I’ll have to work on the overhead bar squat separately.. I did finish..YIPPY!!!

  • This is great, is it possible to add shrugs with barbells?

    I love the idea, I could see myself doing this 3 times a week. Lightly hitting all the major groups of muscle more frequently.

  • Thanks, awesome workout, I assume if you do this 3 times a week as a beginner and no other exercise, this should be enough to get stronger and build muscle? So as you get stronger, do you increase the weight or reps, or both? Also, do you warm up and stretch separately, or just use the same with an empty barbell? Thank you

  • Hey man! Been studying non stop on complexes. I lift regularly and have been putting on mass. Im joining an 8 week challenge that I want to shred down for. Would doing these Monday Wednesday Friday with active recovery on Tuesday and Thursday be beneficial?

  • I love barbell complex, they really are a great cardio workout.. I usually do a complex on a Sunday before I do my back workout. Works best for me that way

  • Hello! Thanks for sharing this video. I have two questions; how many rounds should I be doing and should I rest in between each round, and for how long? Thanks again!

  • THANK YOU!!!!
    She dropped a “gem” in the video about “being present when doing a lot of reps and ending up pulling harder with your dominant side…”
    Makes perfect sense! Fantastic advice. Will definitely keep this in my mind when I hit the gym from now on.

  • Can I replace my full body workout 3X week with this complex 3X a week? And add maybe jump rope at the end… goal is to loose fat and get stronger