Conditioning complexes are the baby bear’s porridge of conditioning. Some are too long, some are too short, some involve too much equipment and others not enough. Then, there are those that are juuuuuust right, based how much time and what equipment you have available on any given day.
A simple enough prospect on paper—complete a series of exercises without setting the implement down—complexes are shockingly effective for burning fat, boosting your strength and building up your cardiovascular fitness in an unconventional way.
Whether you’ve been training for years and yearn for the heaviest bits of iron or are just starting out, the complex is scalable. You can run (well, lift) through a heavier series and focus on your intensity (intensity as defined by weight on the bar, that is, not effort given), or you can go with lighter weights and knock out more volume to polish off your training session.
Whether you go a little faster, add a little more weight, or do an extra round, your body will respond.
Below, I’ve laid out a quick, effective and enjoyable total-body complex called “Bread and Butter” that requires only a couple of dumbbells and the willingness to hang on for four exercises in a row. (I yanked this baby straight out of my Lift Weights Faster conditioning manual just for you guys!)
Name: Bread and Butter, because these staples will always carry you through.
Suggested Equipment: Two dumbbells
Instructions: Do as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) — with good technique! — of this circuit in 14 minutes. Rest for one minute at the bottom of each round (choose a weight heavy enough that you aren’t tempted to keep rolling through).
If you’re looking for more just-right complexes (as well as circuits of every structure), I’ve put together 180 grab-and-go workouts in my Lift Weights Faster conditioning library. Complete with a full exercise glossary that includes written descriptions and photographic demonstrations of over 225 exercises, from classic moves to much more creative ones. Every workout is organized by the equipment you have available and how much time you’ve got, including plenty of effective options that last anywhere from five up to 30 minutes (including one from GGS Co-founder Molly Galbraith!).
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