Complex training

hey guys, i live in the northeast, and with a blizzard about to hit, i think my days of running outside are numbered. i often dont have access to a track, so i am limited to a 20yd straightaway and a weightroom. i am planning on doing increased plyos to try and make up for the lack of speedwork i may have to work through during the winter season because of the lack of facilities

what i had a question about is whether anybody has done complex training before/knows how it should be structured. (complex training is doing a heavy set of leg exercise ie squat, clean, etc. immediately followed by a set of plyometrics)

i’m not sure how to set uo the rest intervals while doing this, because usually i just lift post running and plyos, so i just take a 4’ rest between sets of sqauts. if i were to add, say 5 depth jumps immediately after the set of heavy squats, how long do i rest? and what defines a heavy eniugh set? 3 reps or under?

also, im also curious if anyone nows hwy it works because it seems to me that wouldnt the plyos be much lower quality from being tired from the lifting right before it? studies have shown that it significantly improved vertical over just plyos or just weights, but i’m not sure if its the complex structure which did this, or just the fact that plyos and weights were both used, and if done separately may have been even more effective?

any responses would be appreciated

Reggie Lewis Center

I think this is what you’re looking for:

Also, Verkhoshansky has on his website a paper which describes this. He calls it the “stimulus” method, and it includes a table of what to do, intensities and rest periods:

“Supermethods of Special Physical Preparation For High Class Athlete” on

As with complex training on the track, which we have also discussed in the past, this type of complex training is HARD TRAINING. It should not be done often, and needs proper preparation and recovery.

Don’t take this stuff lightly, and I wouldn’t do it at all if your training age is less than at least 1.

Perhaps a few more details about yourself would help forum members to advice on the appropriateness or not of such a method for you and/or on alternatives.

Charlie’s comments in the Edmonton video about NOT doing drop jumps, squat jumps, and the like–even for high level athletes–also applies here.

The reason why complex weight/plyo training appears to work is analogous to why contrast training on the track appears to work: The stimulus (first) set obtains muscle recruitment at maximum or nearly maximum, then after an appropriate rest period the second set obtains maximum velocity at maximum force. But just like the assisted portion of contrast training on the track should not go faster than 10% beyond your current capabilities, stimulating your golgi mechanism waaaaaaaay beyond your present capability on the track does not serve a useful purpose (it’s training capability you can’t use). This is one of Charlie’s points early in the Edmonton lecture, and as he points out, the risk/reward of training something you can’t use is fairly obvious.

A bunch more good stuff here from one of the best in the world (McFarlane):

I’m no expert in this area, but I know that the phrase “complex training” means different things. I tend to use the term “contrast training” when I looking to provide a short term (1-3minute) training stimulous by lifting a very heavy load immediately followed by a light, explosive load. But it can also be used to mean “concurrent”, with several heavy load sets performed during the same workout as lighter, more explosive loads. There is really no short term effect, except perhaps on the first set, but both strength and power can be trained simultaneously.

i do have many of my meets there, but for me training there is not really an option, i’d love to if i could!

my training age is about 1.25 years, and i do realize that its hard training, which is why i looked into it since i have limited track time in the winter and would still like to have some hard workouts

thanks for the articles, ill be sure to read through them

I am not an incredibly fast sprinter (pr of 6.92 FAT in the 55, but should be able to go much faster this year), but i have a very high vertical (almost 40") and squat pretty heavy (2x bw to parallel for 8-10 reps). i am on the small side (5’6" 150 lbs) and have been training since the end of the summer of 2009

i have done both heavy lifting and plyometrics before, and feel that the lack of high intensity work during last years indoor season really hurt me

anything more you think would be useful to know?

what is meant by proper rest? i have read that the heightned arousal state of the muscles, or something of that nature, diminishes fairly quickly right after

and i assume low reps have to be used to prevent muscular fatigue from making the plyos very low quality (<5 reps im assuming?)

i just used the phrase complex training becuase thats what dr. chu uses in his book on plyos

From the table in the Verkhoshansky link I gave you above (I’m leaving out the plyos that Charlie recommended AGAINST in Edmonton), Dr. Verkhoshansky lists:

Squats 2X2 @80-85% 3-4 min rest
set break 3-5 min
box squats (explosive) 16-24-32kg (2-3)X(4-6) rec 3-4 min

The key for doing this is that the second workout MUST be explosive to get the intended effect.

Also note that Dr. Verkhoshansky says that this workout should be the first in a day (so it would not be weights after speed in CFTS) and the rest after this workout should be at least 4 hours.

I might (and have) done this very workout as a replacement for speed, but not in addition to speed (though I suppose you could do tempo 4 hours later).

thank you for the info. thats my plan, to use it as a speed replacement when i dont have the facilities. i read in that first article you gave me that the recommended rest varies a bunch, and i do know that everyone is different, so i could do something easy to start out like 3x3 squat with 5 box jumps right after, then rest 5’ and go from there based on how my bdy feels during and after and the days after the workout. i’m still young so i can still experiment a bit!

See the Verkhoshansky link I gave you. The professor has a graph showing maximum jumping height vs rest period. The optimal seems to be 3 min rest after squats or 5 min rest after depth jumps. It depends on what you do for the stimulus exercise, but you don’t go to the second exercise immediately. Wait a few minutes.

You guys making this topic so difficult…

I think most here are talking about what I refer as contrast training. You are looking for a potentiation effect. If so, the potentiating load should be done immediately before, within 1-3 minutes, and the two loads (light and heavy) should be alternated set for set with near full recovery between each ‘superset’. If you are doing several sets of heavy load work followed by rest and then several sets of explosive work (or vice versa) you are doing complex training, but you are receiving little, if any, potentiation effect. You are simply doing concurrent training.

i’d like it to be simple, just everywhere i’ve read/learned about it from makes it seem pretty complicated

what are your thoughts on it? if its simple, id love to hear it

Just an idea. How about focusing your speed related drills more on start/early accel during the winter. I was thinking drills such as push up starts or resisted runs(tire/sled/isorobic) which could be done within 20 metres. Then when the weather improves you can focus on transition to max v and then speed endurance.

Just spitballing here.

It’s not complicated; its very simple. It can be very demanding in terms of CNS impact, but at this time in your training year it shouldn’t be a problem.

my big meets are in february so the weather never really improves by then :confused:

and i took most of the fall doing the push up starts and the summer doing resisted runs, though i did plan to do some short accels before the complex training