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  • COMPLEX TRAINING by Coach Jim Massaro- Power Cleans, Fronts/Back Squats

    COMPLEX TRAINING by Coach Jim Massaro

    As a strength coach, I am always looking for effective training methods to increase my athletes' conditioning and athleticism. Breaking down the anatomy of sports, two main principles-speed and explosion-should be emphasized. Athletes, no matter what sport they are participating in, must have the ability to react to the play with power, grace, and fluidity. Training regiments must both mimic and compliment all these movements. A simple bench press, lat pull, or any other basic lift will not get the job done. Here is where complex training becomes an invaluable tool for the athlete.

    Complex training incorporates the multiple movements-such as pushing, pulling, and squatting-that are found in every sport. One of the main features of complex training is that it educates the body to redirect and accept weight. An example of this would be a power clean to a front squat. As you start the clean you are moving the bar upwards, redirecting the weight upwards, and at the top end you catch the weight in the front squat position and drop down. Here you are accepting the weight while in motion, which is what we ask our bodies to do in both practice and game situations. In complex training you will have a carry weight of 50- 60 percent of your maximum lift. This is an ideal percentage spread for keeping your bar speed and explosion rate at the highest possible level.

    Another area of athletic development that is affected by this form of training is the vertical leap. Throughout all of these movements, we are constantly stimulating our fast-twitch muscles to fire at a rapid rate. This increases hip mobility and hamstring strength, which translates to explosive power off the ground. By the use of short rest periods, the overall conditioning of the athlete will also increase. Throughout this brutal 30 - 40-minute workout, the body will be tested as well as the athlete's mental toughness.

    So let's get started.

    The workout:

    Power Clean x two reps     Do both exercises for three sets. 
Front Squat x one rep

    Take a 60 to 90- second rest and then perform:

    Power Clean x one rep  Invert the above exercises and repeat for three sets. 
Front Squat x two reps

    Take a 60 to 90 second rest and then perform:

    Front Squat x two reps      Do both exercises for three sets. 
Push press x one rep

    Take a 60 to 90-second rest and then perform:

    Front Squat x one rep Invert the above exercises and repeat for three sets. 
Push press x two reps

    Take a 60 to 90-second rest and then perform:

    Back squat x two reps     Do both exercises for three sets

    Split jerk x one rep

    Take a 60 to 90-second rest and then perform:

    Back squat x one rep   Invert the above exercises and repeat for three sets. 
Split jerk x two reps

    When you have completed the first three groups of exercises, take a 60 to 90-second rest and begin again. What changes is the rep scheme: power clean x three reps and front squat x one rep and then invert each pair of exercises until you complete the workout. What you end up with will be 36 sets of speed and explosiveness.

    Areas to observe as a coach while watching the athlete: 1- Proper technique at all times. Watch for and make corrections to insure perfect body alignment. 2- Athlete should incorporate a stomp with all movements. This will help increase foot speed and explosiveness. 3- Bar weight must be a weight that the athlete can handle with speed and control. 4- Intensity must be kept to the highest level. Be sure that rest periods are strictly adhered to.

    All athletes can perform and benefit from complex training. These exercises are based on multi-jointed movements geared specifically for athletic development. One of the great advantages of this training is that it allows a coach to train a large group of athletes at one time. When I have my football team in the weight room, I line them in groups of two and let them go. The number of bars you have will dictate the amount of athletes you can train at once. Complex training is something that I use one day a week as a speed day. Depending on your schedule or time frame, you can do it two to three times a week. This is the beauty of the workout: in a 30-minute time frame I can work all of the major components of athletic training, and the coordination of multi-jointed movements. I hope you will be able to take this program to your athletes, or use it yourself, and enjoy the many benefits from it as I have.

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