Complex Training

HFE Tutor with student
Tutor with student

The use of strength training to improve the physical characteristics of both athletes and serious fitness enthusiasts has been well documented and there is a similar volume of research to support the value of plyometric training. Complex Training, in contrast to traditional strength training approaches, alternates biomechanically comparable resistance exercises with plyometric activities. For example, a heavy load squat may be followed some 4-5 minutes after by a set of depth or box jumps.

The initial strength exercise places a large emphasis on the force producing capabilities of the muscle, whilst the subsequent plyometric activity attempts to increase the rate at which that force is generated. Power is described as a combination of strength and speed and since complex training develops both of these components, it is considered an effective training modality for developing power. Much of the research completed in the area of complex training has observed the acute warm-up benefits, where the resistance exercise is used as a preparatory activity for the subsequent plyometric exercise.

Many of these studies have demonstrated significant improvements in power output during the plyometric activity, which has typically been performed some 4-5 minutes after the weight training exercise. Ultimately the results suggest that the acute affects of a high load weight training exercise performed four minutes before the power exercise increases the athlete’s performance in the subsequent power exercise, especially in stronger individuals. This finding may support the notion that muscular strength should be a prerequisite for complex training and that its use should therefore be reserved for those who are highly trained.

There are a variety of different ways in which complex training can be applied, some utilise isotonic (or more accurately defined as isoinertial) exercises prior to the plyometric activity, whilst others use isometric exercises. Regardless of the type of preceding resistance exercise, its aim is to maximise the short-term neural responses created within the muscle in order to generate maximum force, particularly those associated with the motor unit.

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