The Intelligent & Relentless Pursuit of Muscle™

Get ready to take your physique and conditioning to the next level. Introducing Hybrid Locomotion Complexes (HLC), a simple yet effective system I designed to jack up the heart rate and burn a ton of calories without sacrificing muscle size or strength.

Complex training is hardly new – I've written extensively about it, as have many other T Nation coaches. However, this particular formula has a creative twist, alternating between resisted locomotion exercises and a variety of dumbbell exercises.

Do the Locomotion!

Put simply, "locomotion" means . A locomotion exercise is one that has you move around the training room under load. Two or more of these movements grouped together is a "locomotion complex."

Next, dumbbell exercises are placed between each locomotion drill. These exercises will vary within a given complex while the locomotion exercises stay the same.

To simplify things, I've provided 8 sample Hybrid Locomotion Complexes below so you can see how they're put together and give you something to test out.

Hybrid Locomotion Complexes

The complexes all use one of the following four resisted-movement exercise applications:

  • Sled Pulling
  • Sled (like a Prowler) or Tire Sled Pushes
  • Low Sled Pushes or Plate Pushes
  • Farmer's Walks

Sled Pulling

Sled pulling can be performed using either a weighted sled or large tire.

You can also perform a backward (reverse) sled pull, where you're facing the tire or sled.

Prowler/Tire/High Pushes

Everybody knows what a Prowler push is, so there's no need to explain it further.

If you're using a tire or a weighted sled, you can also perform a Prowler-style push as demonstrated in this video:

Low Sled / Plate Pushes

Another resisted locomotion option we can integrate into our complexes is low sled pushes, which involves pushing the sled from a plank position.

The other way to get this done is to throw one or two dumbbells inside of a 45-pound plate and push it across a turf floor.

If you don't have access to turf, you can place a towel underneath the weight-plate and push it across a basketball court or your gym's aerobics room.

Farmer's Walks

Farmer's walks are another exercise most T Nation readers should be familiar with, so there's no need for an in-depth explanation of these, either. Just pick up a weight, stand tall, and walk strong!

The complexes below can be done by carrying the dumbbells either at your hips (the traditional farmer's walk method) or by carrying them at your shoulders in the "racked position," or by holding them overhead.

Top 8 Performance U Hybrid (Locomotion) Complexes

Now that you understand the formula for the locomotion complexes, let's look at some sample protocols. Below you'll find two versions of each type of locomotion protocol:

Sled Pulling Complexes

Equipment: You'll need a weighted sled (or a big tire with straps and a harness) and a pair of dumbbells.

Set Up: Place two cones 15-20 yards apart. At the starting cone, place a pair of dumbbells.

Sled Pull Complex #1

Here's the whole kit and kaboodle in action:

Sled Pull Complex #2 (Unilateral Version)

This complex is similar to the previous one, but all dumbbell exercises are performed unilaterally. In other words, you'll use a single dumbbell and perform all reps holding the dumbbell in your left hand, and then perform the reps again with the dumbbell in your right hand.

This complex will obviously take longer to complete than the previous since you've got to do both sides. That said, anytime you perform unilateral dumbbell exercises, it lights up your core muscles to maintain control (i.e., create stability) and offset the unbalanced load.

Start the dumbbell exercises using the same side hand each time.

Got all that? Check it out:

Prowler/Tire/Sled Push Complexes

Equipment: You'll need a sled with two upright handles (like a Prowler) or straps with free-floating handles attached to a sled or a tire, along with a pair of dumbbells.

Set Up: Place two cones 15-20 yards apart. At the starting cone, place a pair of dumbbells.

Prowler/Tire/High Sled Push Complex #1

Prowler /Tire/High Sled Push Complex #2 (Unilateral Version)

This is the unilateral version of the above complex, which uses the same sequence of exercises, just with unilateral dumbbell variations.

Start the dumbbell exercises using the same side hand each time.

* Use your free arm to assist in getting the dumbbell up to the "racked position" on each rep. Doing so allows you to use a heavier load and get more muscle involved.

Low Sled/Plate Push Combinations

Equipment: You'll need a 45-pound weight-plate, a surface to push it on, and a pair of dumbbells to perform the following complexes.

Set Up: Position two cones 15-20 yards apart. Put a pair of dumbbells inside the weight plate you'll be pushing.

If you're using a weight sled to perform a low push, place the pair of dumbbells at the starting cone.

Low Sled/Plate Push Complex #1

Low Sled/Plate Push Complex #2 (Unilateral-Advanced Version)

Like the two previous unilateral complexes, we keep the exercise sequencing the same; we just modify the dumbbell stations into unilateral moves.

Furthermore, to create a more advanced workout challenge, you can also perform the Plate Push/Low Sled Pushes unilaterally as Silje demonstrates below.

Hybrid Locomotion Complexes

When performing the advanced unilateral version of this complex, you not only perform all the dumbbell exercises unilaterally, you also perform all the pushes unilaterally as well.

So perform half a lap (15-20 yards) of Plate/Low Sled Pushes with one arm, then use the other arm to perform the second half of the lap (15-20 yards).

In the following unilateral complex, begin the exercises with your left arm – i.e., dumbbell exercises with left arm and then right arm; plate/low sled pushes with left arm (half-lap) and then right arm.

Farmer's Walk Complexes

Equipment: You'll need two sets of dumbbells: a pair of heavy dumbbells and another pair that are approximately 35 pounds lighter than the heavy pair. For example, a 75-pound pair and a 40-pound pair.

You'll use the heavier pair to perform the farmer's walks and the lighter pair to perform all the in-place exercises.

Set Up: Set two cones 20-25 yards apart. Place both pairs of dumbbells at the starting cone.

Farmer's Walk Complex #1

Farmer's Walk Complex #2 (Unilateral Version)

This complex is performed unilaterally. You'll do all the farmer's walks using your left arm and perform all the in-place dumbbell exercises using your right arm. That's one set.

In the video demonstration above, Isabella uses her same side hand to perform the entire locomotion complex. This is another option you can use, which is especially useful when trying to challenge the grip.

Program Design Recommendations

When to use Hybrid Complexes: For the most part, hybrid locomotion complexes should be performed towards the end of the workout as a metabolic finisher following a comprehensive strength-training workout.

How many complexes within a given workout: Usually a single locomotion complex performed for several sets is sufficient.

Load: Choose a weight-load (on the dumbbell exercises and on the locomotion drills) that allows you to perform the entire complex for the reps indicated with good form.

Tempo: Perform each round of a given complex as fast as possible while demonstrating good control of each movement within the complex.

Sets: Perform 3 to 5 rounds of bilateral complexes and 2-3 rounds (per side) of unilateral complexes (4-6 total sets).

Rest: Rest 2-4 minutes between rounds, depending on individual recovery ability.

Progressing Hybrid (Locomotion) Complexes

  • It's not uncommon to become fatigued in the middle of a locomotion complex. In this case, simply take as much rest as needed to finish the complex.
  • If you're really struggling to finish a complex, just stop and reduce the intensity by either using lighter loads, performing fewer sets (of the complex), and/or resting longer between rounds.
  • You can create progressive overload by gradually adding weight, adding more sets, or decreasing the rest between sets of a complex.
  • I often keep the seventh (final) station in the complex as "optional," in that if a client or athlete is toasted on their last locomotion drill (station 6), we'll stop the set there.

This way I can add the seventh station back in as the individual becomes fitter, thereby creating progressive overload.

You're Welcome!

Okay folks, I'm done. You're fully stocked-up with challenging yet practical complexes designed to crank up the metabolic demand of your workouts and turn you into a lean, mean, procreating machine.

Better still, you now have the tools to develop your own hybrid locomotion complexes that suit both your needs and the limitations of your gym.

All you have to do is add these hybrid locomotion complexes to your training to ensure your workouts finish with a "happy ending."