Complex Training Abstract Complex training refers to a training mode which combines strength exercises with a comparable plyometric exercises to improve strength and power of the players

Complex Training


Complex training refers to a training mode which combines strength exercises with a comparable plyometric exercises to improve strength and power of the players. Nowadays, Complex training has gained popularity as a better training strategy. The success of Complex training is well supported by research, studies and reports.Recently, several researches, studies and reports also recommendfollowing complex training method in order to improve muscular power and performance of players particularly for volleyball and basketball.


Complex training (CT) is a training method designed to improve both strength and power in the same training session with the combination of strength training and plyometric training. Before 1986, Complex training is a secret Russian training method designed to increase strength and power.Fleck and Kontor wrote the ?rst peer-reviewed article on Complex training after visiting the Soviet Union in 1986. The author describes that, the procedure of Complex training is performed by the use of a heavy resistant exercise followed by a lighter exercise of a similar biomechanical movement pattern. The heavy resistant exercise also referred to as the training activity, can be in the form of a slow speed/ high load exercise or a high speed/moderate load exercise (i.e., 4 to 12 repetition maximum). The pairing of 2 biomechanically similar exercises (i.e., squats and vertical jumps) is termed a “complex pair”.Complex training combines a slow, heavy strength exercise. The idea is to use theslow,heavy movement to maximally recruit the nervous system and then take advantage of that with the fast exercise. More specifically, complex training alternates biomechanically similar strength training exercises with plyometric exercises in the same workout. For example set of squats followed by a set of squat jumps, etc. Previously, Ebben and Watts (1998) reviewed the complex training literature and described the success of combining strength training and plyometric training. Further, the authors suggested for designing complex training programs, and recommended research to assess the possiblesuccess of complex training. The purpose of this article is to know about the facts of Complex training.

Complex Training

Complex training integrates strength training, plyometric training, and sometimes sport-specific movement. Complex training is a training method with a combination of several different exercises in to one i.e., strength exercise often resistance based followed by a matched plyometric exercise e.g.

• Squats followed by Squat jumps.
• Split leg squats followed by Lateral bounds (Ice skaters).

The logic behind these matched pair of exercises is that the resistance work gets the Central Nervous System (CNS) into full action so that more muscle ?bres are available for the explosive exerciseso as to achieve a better training bene?t.Complex training, also known as contrast training or Post-Activation Potentiationtraining, involves the integration of strength training and plyometric in a trainingsystem designed to improve explosive power. According to Robbins, Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) is a phenomenon by which the force exerted by a muscle is increased due to its previous contraction. Post-activation potentiation is a theory that purports that the contractile history of a muscle influences the mechanical performance of subsequent muscle contraction. Playersneeds to be physically fresh andmotivated to achieve best benefit from Complex training. Hard aerobic or anaerobic sessions for at least 48 hours before a complex session are shouldavoid. Avoid any static stretching exercises as this will relax the muscles and reduce force production potential. Correct rest periods be ensured.

Thus Complex training improves sports performance of players particularly for volleyball and basketball.

Training Methods

A complex training set involves performing two exercises back to back, with a brief rest period in between. Generally, complex training program can be used in three phase’svizgeneral phase, speci?c phase and competition phase of training. According to Brandon (1999) the following are example workouts for each phase.

? General Phase

In general phase the players should complete all sets of the strength exercise with a recovery of 60 seconds/set followed by a three minute rest and thencomplete all sets of the matched plyometric exercise with a recovery of 90 second/set e.g.

Exercise Reps Rest/Set
Squats 3 × 6 RM 60 seconds
Split LegSquats 3 × 6 RM 60 seconds
3 minutes rest
SquatJumps 3 × 6 90 seconds
Lateral bounds (Ice skaters) 3 × 6 90 seconds

3 × 6 RM means 3 sets with 6 repetitions max (RM).

? Speci?c Phase

In the speci?c phase the plyometric exercises must be speci?c to your sport/event. The playersshould perform one set of strength exercise immediately followed by one set of the Plyometric exercise e.g. 6 squats, 6 squat jumps, 3 minutes rest, 6 squats, 6 squat jumps (with minimal recovery between the squats and squat jumps).

Exercise Reps Rest/Exercise
Squats;Squat jumps 3 × 6 (8RM) 3 × 6 3 minutes
Split Leg squats;Lateral bounds (Ice skaters) 3 × 6 (8RM) 3 × 6 3 minutes

3 × 6 (8RM) means 3 sets of 6 repetitions with8 repetitions max (RM).

? Competition Phase

In the competition phase the plyometric exercises must be speci?c to your sport/event. Same training as in specific phase is followed in completion phase with an increase in repetitions. The playersshould perform one set of strength exercise immediately followed by one set of the Plyometric exercise with maximum repetitions e.g. 6 squats, 6 squat jumps, 5 minutes rest, 6 squats, 6 squat jumps (with minimal recovery between the squats and drop jumps).

Exercise Reps Rest/Exercise
Squats;SquatJumps 3 × 6 (12RM) 3 × 6 5 minutes
Split Leg squats; Lateral bounds (Ice skaters) 3 × 6 (12RM) 3 × 6 5 minutes

3 × 6 (12RM) means 3 sets of 6 repetitions with12 repetitions max (RM).

Note. Proper Warm up/dynamic stretching before beginning and Cool down /static stretching after finishing complex training must be ensured.


Complex training allowsgetting a lot of work done in the shortest possible time. By combining several exercises into one extended exercise the training time as well as total work output is maximized. Complex training greatly increases intensity due to the nature of its effect. It is a great training tool to prepare the body for intense activity. It builds muscle stamina and endurance. By combining different exercises into one exercise you can target multiple muscle groups at once. This improve muscle activity and the need to flexible the muscles with energy so that the body work harder to breakdown carbohydrate molecules which can be used for energy. More calories are burned when the body works harder to breakdown carbohydrates. Complex training workout is a great way to burn maximum total calories. As complex training is somewhat similar to circuit training, it also creates somewhat of a cardiovascular effect in the body.


‘Complex training allows the players to work the muscle fibres in conjunction with the nervous system in such a way that the slow-twitch fibres are taught to behave like fast-twitch fibres.Such a process is also referred to as muscle fibre type shifting.Moreover increase in fast-twitch muscle fibres from slow-twitch muscle fibres occurs due to the long term training effects of complex training.Generally, the aim of complex training is to stimulate the players to develop more muscle fibres by which strength can be expressed quickly for greater power generation.The way complex training works, in theory, is that the isometric part of the exercise will cause the muscle fibres which are typically recruited for a given movement to become fatigued. The sport specific plyometric movement which immediately follows the isometric movement will then require the neuromuscular system to recruit new muscle fibres, since the fibres typically recruited are now fatigued. The end result is that more muscle fibres are recruited when performing a particular movement enabling you to jump higher or do a more difficult move.’


The ambition in a complex training regime is not just to achieve better results in an individual workout but also to condition the players so that they can perform more powerfully as a standard.Subjectiveexplanation, previous research, studies and reports on the topic suggest complex training is an area of interest for training professionals. Empirically minded professionals have responded with data to guide the application of complex training.While implementing Complex training the factors such astraining age, training history, degree of absolute strength, exercise selection, load, duration of the session, and days of recovery, as well as which individual is a responder to the training activity should be considered. The goal of complex training over long-term training is to intensely enhance power output in tasks such as volleyball and basketball. Hence, complex training is an efficient way to improve strength and power of players.

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