Tip: Squat Star Complexes

Five exercises back-to-back using the same movement pattern. That's how you build strength and muscle fast. Here's an example.

Complexes (blocks of exercises) can be used for several goals: fat loss, strength and power gains, and building high-performance mass. The Soviets used two exercises in their complexes – one strength-movement and one power/explosive movement to hit both extremes of the strength curve.

Instead of training only two points on the force-velocity curve, I train five points. I call them star complexes and explain them in detail in my 6 Weeks to Superhero program.)

Each complex involves five exercises of the same movement pattern. The exercises are performed back to back, starting with a heavy/slow movement as the first exercise. Each subsequent exercise is lighter in resistance than the previous exercise. This allows for progressively faster rep speeds as you move from exercise to exercise. Here's an example using the squat pattern:

  1. Top-Half Squat, Overload, 2-5 Reps: This movement is both a great neural activator and a very effective quadriceps exercise. The top-half of the squat is done mostly by the quads.
  2. Front Squat, Strength, 3-5 Reps: For this complex I prefer the front squat over the back variation because the posterior chain and lower back were already heavily hit by the deadlift complex.
  3. Power Snatch From Hang or Blocks, Strength-Speed, 2-3 Reps: Doing this powerful movement from blocks focuses on explosive starting strength, like that needed for a sprint start. In contrast, the hang variation is more transferable to movements where you have to rapidly switch from eccentric to concentric, like in running.
  4. Jump Squat With Bar, Speed-Strength, 8-10 Reps: Do this one with a minimal dip down, a quarter squat, no more. Keep the torso as upright as possible to focus on quad explosiveness. A load of 20% of your max squat is adequate.
  5. Vertical Jump Series, Explosive, 8-10 Reps: Do a short and quick dip then reverse the motion as fast as you can. The transition from dip to jump should be lightning fast
  6. Backward Sprint With Sled or Prowler, Work Capacity, 1 Round: Keep a crouched position (knees bent at 90 degrees), and sprint backward for 30 meters. This will be hell on the quads, especially the vastus medialis.
Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.