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Get Shredded for Summer | Barbell Complexes | Erin Stern



When you think about getting lean, what kind of workouts come to mind? Many people conjure up images of logging in hours of cardio, or lifting lighter weight with higher reps. In this series Get Shredded for Summer, we will look at more exciting ways to get lean and how to maintain muscle while leaning down. The first workout we’ll delve into is the barbell complex. Complexes are versatile; you can combine almost any compound movement in the series of exercises. When putting together your training cycle, a good range is 3-6 exercises and 3-5 reps per exercise. Start with the barbell, or load a smaller straight bar with light weights. The goal is to choose a weight that’s challenging but doable for the entire circuit. I like to start by doing a circuit with just the Olympic bar, and add weight from there. Take 2-3 minutes of rest in between, and try to get 15-20 minutes of work in. It also makes a great “finisher” exercise after weights!

While allowing for a variety of exercises, there are a couple of basic guidelines. Your hands never leave the bar. Ideally, you’ll choose exercises that allow you to maintain a hold on the bar. You can adjust your grip (narrow to wide, for example), but it’s no longer a complex if you put the bar down.  Do all exercises in succession. The exercises should flow seamlessly together. Complete all movements before taking a break/rest.

There are quite a few benefits to barbell complexes:

  • Compound movements help to elevate your heart rate. This allows you to burn more calories in less time.  It also can make muscles “flow” better aesthetically, as you’re working your entire body in unison. 
  • After burn! Challenging workouts can rev the metabolism for hours after you leave the gym. This can help with fat loss.
  • Complexes are time-saving and interesting.  Not many people feel exhilarated after walking on the treadmill, but performing quick movements in succession challenges your muscles and your mind. 
  • Our bodies become accustomed to cardio, so you need to do more and more of it just to see the same results! Since complexes combine many different movements, you’ll break through plateaus. 

Here are some exercises to try:

  • Hang clean
  • Hang snatch
  • Jerks and variations
  • Push press/shoulder press
  • Front squats
  • Clean-grip lunges and variations
  • Rows for back and shoulders
  • Deadlifts
  • RDLs
  • Clean-grip sumo squats 

Check out the video below for a demonstration and for more tips. Train hard, even when leaning down! I love PEAK ATP, as it allows me to keep my intensity, even when I’m trying to get shredded. One to two good extra reps add up over time! Thanks for reading – until next time, train hard, y’all!

- Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia


Posted By Molly A, TSI USA Inc. on May 2, 2017


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