It's finally the new year - and we all know what that means. It's time to turn up the heat (metabolically speaking). I don't like to perpetuate stereotypes, but the new year is usually associated with fat loss and getting back into shape. So let's start with that...
One of the most effective ways to structure a workout for fat loss is by combining movements. There are countless ways to do this, but we're going to focus on complexes. These multi-step movements will ramp up your heart rate and burn big-time calories. Basically, a complex strings exercises together that use the same implement - a barbell, for example. Sort of like a circuit, but using one implement means you can move from exercise to exercise without setting down the weight.
Workout Days: Consider this a supplement to your current routine. Start with two complex workouts per week, and ramp it up if necessary. Do them in place of your cardio workouts or on top of them, depending on how much additional work you're looking for.
Sets & Reps: Six to eight reps is the number to shoot for. As for sets, three to six - again, depending on how much work you're looking for. It may not seem like much at first, but each set will get increasingly difficult and you'll be gasping for breath by the end.
Barbell Complex 1
A1) Deadlift: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ky5hs7uprTU
Push your feet into the floor, squeeze your glutes. Avoid excessive rounding of your back by pulling your shoulder blades together and pushing your chest out. The more knee bend you can get, the better.
A2) Bent Row: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3S7tYR0axTs
Use an overhand grip for these, as the video shows. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down throughout the movement. As with the Deadlift, be careful of any lower back rounding.
A3) Front squat: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tlfahNdNPPI
Use whichever grip is comfortable - I like the clean grip, as shown in the video, but there are other options. All of the same squat rules apply - eyes forward, chest out, butt back. Your knees will likely drift over your toes (a big no-no in the back squat), but don't worry too much about it.
A4) Push press: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd-zcTLcm9g
Start with a quick bend of your knees - this is where your power comes from. It should feel just like a reflex. Drive your arms straight up and lock your elbows at the top. As you lower the bar, give your knees another quick bend to help with the jolt.
Barbell Complex 2
B1) RDL: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wtki_xXFFhw
This slight variation of the Deadlift puts major emphasis on the hip hinge. Unlike the Deadlift, your knees will stay only slightly bent throughout the movement. Focus on keeping your back straight and hinging your hips by pushing your butt out and back.
B2) Curl: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LY1V6UbRHFM
Use whichever grip you find most comfortable - narrow or wide. Keep your elbows pressed tightly to your side and don't let them move behind your torso. You know the rest.
B3) Hang clean: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uEHTpR4GJtI
Pay careful attention to the video - cleans aren't easy to describe in words. Similar to the push press, use a slight knee bend to initiate movement. Explode up and out with your hips to drive the weight upwards.
B4) Lunge: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0_9sJd9P8M0
Your best bet is to use a clean grip, but if you can push the bar over your head and onto your back (as shown in the video), go for it. Descend until your knee is within an inch or two of the floor, but avoid dropping down onto the floor completely (it won't feel good).
C1) Swing: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OopKTfLiz48
Similar to the RDL, you'll be focusing on the hip hinge. Straight back, slight knee bend, butt out and back. When the Kettlebell is in the lower position, be extremely careful not to round your lower back. As you swing it upwards, explode forward with your hips and aim for face level.
C2) One arm clean: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SeVQ8_HmvxI
The Kettlebell clean is best learned by demonstration, so pay careful attention to the video. The twisting motion you see in the video is the most important part of the movement. As with any other explosive motion, use a slight knee bend - almost like a reflex - to increase momentum. As the Kettlebell comes upwards, keep it close to your body - pretend you're zipping up a jacket.
C3) Curl: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NGIci1TSdP4
Consider the Kettlebell curl a slightly more awkward dumbbell curl. The same principles apply. In the video, there are three options - two hand, swing, and bottoms up. Start with the first and move down the line if you're okay with it. As with any other curl, stay nice and straight and keep your elbows close to your body.
C4) Squat jump: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VNMhtmvSsqY
The most comfortable way to hold the Kettlebell for jumps is at the chest (for most). Clutch it tightly to your chest, squat down, and explode up off your toes. As you come back down, land as lightly as possible on your toes. Pay attention to the floor surface - you want something with a little give, like rubber.
D1) Rear Delt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzzheWS_6ZM
Start in the normal row position. Your elbows can bend slightly, but not too much - you don't want your arms doing more work than your shoulders and upper back. Spread your arms out and pull yourself forward.
D2) Single Leg Squat Jump (one side): http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q49NjZlqY8U
You should be familar with the squat jump at this point - this variation is the exact same movement, but on only one leg. Most people will have some balance issues here, but don't worry. Knock out a few sets and you'll get used to the position. The video shows technique for just the squat, but all you have to do is add a jump.
D3) Hug (one side): https://www.youtube.com/watch?qQx6om4T2CM
Pretend you're giving yourself a massive, crushing hug. Through the movement,try to push your elbows out, maintaining a nice space between them and your body. Make sure you feel both your forearms and your biceps working.
D4) Single Leg Squat Jump (other side)
D5) Hug (other side)
D6) Swimmer's Pull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgwZsEzS6pl
Your number one concern here is keeping your lower back nice and stable - try to avoid excessive extension. A slight bend in the elbows if perfectly fine, but you can use straight arms to increase difficulty.
What You Need To Know: You've probably done some of these exercises before, and that's good. But don't let your pride or familiarity get the best of you - choose your weight based off the easiest exercise and use moderation. Lots of moderation. A good strategy to use with complexes is the basic pyramid scheme - start with a light weight and ramp it up in small increments with each set. It may take a few sessions to find the sweet spot. Oh, and one more thing - just in case it wasn't clear, there's no breaks during complexes. Perform each movement back to back, just like a circuit, and don't set the weight down until you're done. As for rest between circuits, start with 1 to 2 minutes and work your way down.