COMPLEX TRAINING PROGRAMME
Complex Training Program Overview
Complex Training is a 4-week program that utilises the scientifically proven technique Postactivation Potentiation (PAP) to boost muscle power, strength, and size. In just four weekly workouts, you’ll get bigger, stronger, leaner, and more athletic.
A more powerful muscle is a stronger muscle, and a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle. Combine these three elements – power, strength, size – intelligently into one workout and you get my exclusive 4-week Complex Training Program.
In just four weekly workouts, you’ll have a physique that not only looks leaner and more muscular, but that also performs better in the gym and at virtually any sport.
Why Complex Training Works
Although the name implies otherwise, Complex Training is quite simple once you understand the science behind it. The “complex” portion comes from stacking, or supersetting, two exercises back-to-back to improve strength and power on the second move.
The reason for the improvement on the second exercise is known as Postactivation Potentiation (PAP). Simply put, PAP "charges" your nervous system so that on successive sets, you can lift more weight, jump higher, or complete more reps. (More on PAP below.)
During the 4-week program, the complex sets in each workout will help you first build explosive power in the upper and lower body (both pushing and pulling muscles). Then, you’ll use more weight on heavy low-rep sets (5 reps, 4 reps, 3 reps, 2 reps) to promote gains in pure strength, not to mention athletic power improvements that will carry over into all aspects of life. Finally, the workout ends with compound sets with higher rep counts to build lean muscle mass.
The Science Behind PAP
Let’s be clear, complex training isn’t some bro-science nonsense. Numerous studies done over the past 20 years support the effectiveness of PAP for improving power and strength. In fact, a 2019 published review of over 30 studies using complex training confirmed that it’s quite effective for boosting 1-rep-max (1RM) strength and increasing power to allow athletes to jump higher and sprint faster.
The way PAP works, in simple terms, is that it primes the nervous system to fire with more force and power. Think about a baseball or softball player warming up to bat. Often, the athlete will swing with several bats for added weight or use a weighted “donut” on the bat while in the on deck circle. Doing this primes the nervous system to move a heavier bat. Then, when the athlete is batting for real with a lighter bat, the nervous system fires with the force and power to move the heavier bat. The stronger nerve impulse causes the athlete to swing the bat with more force than he or she normally would. This results in a more powerful swing to hit the ball farther.
PAP also works the other way around – using a light weight before lifting a heavy weight. The trick here is to lift a very light weight as explosively as possible before the heavy load. For example, if you do a few medicine ball chest throws before a heavy set of bench press, the fast and explosive med ball reps will prime the nervous system to explode with more power. Then, when you attempt the heavy bench press, your starting strength (where you explode the bar off the chest) will be greater, thus allowing you to bench press more weight.
Complex Training Periodisation
Over the course of the 4-week plan, your weight and goal rep range will change week to week.
For power exercises, the weight stays the same (about 50% of 1RM), but the reps increase each week. Reps start at 3 per set in Week 1, then increase to 4 reps in Week 2, 5 reps in Week 3, then 6 reps per set in Week 4. Remember that this is your goal rep range. If you can’t complete all the prescribed reps for a power exercise (i.e., power push-up), complete as many as you can with the goal of increasing reps over the four weeks.
For the strength exercises, sets start at 5 reps in Week 1, then decrease to 4 reps in Week 2, 3 reps in Week 3, and finally, 2 reps in Week 4. Of course, decreasing reps means increasing loads. Your weights during these sets will be your 5RM, 4RM, 3RM, and 2RM, respectively.
These are heavy sets, for sure.
For the compound sets in the Muscle Complexes, sets will consist of 6-8 reps in Week 1, then increase to 9-11 reps in Week 2, 12-15 reps in Week 3, and end at 16-20 reps in Week 4. This way, you’re getting the full spectrum of hypertrophy-friendly rep counts – 6 reps all the way up to 20.
Note: Due to the intensity of the compound sets, there’s little need to add any more intensity boosters like drop sets or rest pause. Let the compound sets serve as your intensity boosters for these next four weeks. Save the additional intensity techniques for a future program.