Hotel Complex #1

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I was in Indianapolis this past week—part of a regular meetup I do with some of the best people in the fitness biz. This round was hosted by one of my favourite people: Mike Robertson, co-founder of IFAST.

Did I work out with some awesome human beings? Yes. Yes, I did. But that was then. I still needed to get moving before jumping on a flight this morning. So, I got up a few minutes early and busted out Complex #1.

A warm-up and five rounds took me under 20 minutes.

If you’re not familiar with complexes, then it’s time to change that. Complexes are one of the most efficient ways to integrate strength with cardio—all with minimal equipment and space.

JL Holdsworth doing his thing

Complex #1 is quick, effective, functional AND bro-tastic at the same time.

Left side

  • Split-squat x 6
  • Single-leg RDL to corner x 6
  • High-pull x 6
  • Concentration curl from deep squat x 6
  • Bent-over row x 12

Right side

  • Split-squat x 6
  • Single-leg RDL to corner x 6
  • High-pull x 6
  • Concentration curl from deep squat x 6
  • Bent-over row x 12

Straight down the middle

  • Goblet squat x 12

Perform a light warmup round followed by at least 3 rounds—resting in rounds between until your heart rate is down to under 130 BPM

Here’s how it looks:

A few notes

In a complex, your limiting factor is your weakest exercise. In this case, it’s the concentration curl (I sincerely hope that you curl less than you split-squat or high-pull). While you can certainly slow things down on any isolation work, speed is generally more important than load because when you move fast… Say it with me:

Physics makes things heavy

SL RDL

The SL (single-leg) RDL to corner is one of my personal variations on this exercise. I recommend it because the most popular version of the SL RDL is great on paper BUT…

  • Often turns into a balancing act (which is not the goal)
  • Hips are often out of alignment
  • It’s tough for pretty much everyone to get a feel for great positioning

The SL RDL to corner smoothly deals with these issues by having you drag your rear foot along the floor back and away (as if you’re in the middle of the room and trying to get your rear foot to the back corner. With the weight counterbalanced in the same-side hand, you’re never out of balance and your hips intuitively stay aligned.

This also makes it easy to tell when your hips have maxed out on their available range of motion—because if your back foot has stopped moving but the dumbbell is still going down—that’s your spine, my dude.

Execute the SL RDL to corner like a boss by seeing how far you can get the rear foot back without putting any weight on it.

High-pull

Don’t overthink this one. Push the balls of your feet into the floor for as long as you can. If you leave the ground, cool. If not, cool. The goal is to make the dumbbell float. Don’t grind out the dumbbell height with your shoulder. Instead, think of it as a barometer for how much force you produce through your legs.

Split-squat

This one needs a whole article. If the fixed shin position seems weird to you, I recommend simply turning this into a rear lunge.

It’s go-time!

You’ve already spent more time reading about this complex than it actually takes to do it. Give it a try and let me know how things go.

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