Use Barbell Complexes to Burn Fat and Build Muscle
Use Barbell Complexes to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

If you find your fat loss progress stalling at the eternal conveyor-track of the treadmill, you are not alone. Yet, on their quest for fat loss, thousands of people continue to support the notion that the treadmill is the best solution for weight loss when what they should be doing is hitting the weights.

In a research study on the effects of weight training, aerobic activity, and waist circumference change, researchers found that men who spent more time lifting weights had a smaller waistline gain than those who increased their aerobic exercise instead. [1]

Related - 3 Best Cardio Workouts for Torching Fat

Cardio is not the best solution for fat loss for three primary reasons.

#1 - Cardio is Not an Efficient Fat Burner

Cardio doesn’t burn as much fat relative to the amount of work you are doing.

In a study done by wake forest university, researchers found that those who train with a low-calorie diet, preserve much more lean muscle mass than those eating in a caloric deficit and using aerobic workouts as their main source of activity. [2] This is very important because when you start to lose lean muscle mass, oftentimes what happens if you wind up looking skinny-fat which is challenging to reverse.

#2 - Cardio Does Not Support Strength Building

If you look at a sprinter and a long-distance runner side by side, you’ll notice two extremes of the different body types. Sprinters are much more muscular and are capable of much more explosive movements simply because their daily activity requires this of them.

Long distance runners, on the other hand, are very skinny and frail, and this is because their body doesn’t need muscle for the job they are doing. Long distance running is about endurance, muscle is heavier than anything, so in order to optimize itself for the job at hand, your body will cut down on your muscle, therefore, reducing strength.

#3 - Cardio Increases Estrogen and Cortisol, Two Anti-Muscle Building Hormones

Cardio actually causes a stress reaction resulting in cortisol release. It’s never a good thing when your body reacts to physical activity the same way it reacts to mental stress. This cortisol release makes your body hold onto fat because your body is afraid.

Weight lifting, on the other hand, releases a flow of testosterone through your body and stimulates your muscles into growth by releasing more growth hormone.

With all of that said, what is the best alternative to cardio to burn fat?

Barbell Complex

Introducing the Barbell Complex Circuit

A barbell complex is when you use a barbell to perform an exercise such as a squat, row, or bench press with a lighter than normal weight and after finishing one exercise immediately moving to the next trying to maintain the same weight. Ideally, the weight should stop moving for more than 5-10 seconds at a time.

Far from a new concept, the barbell complex circuit has an extraordinary ability to enhance the strength and fat loss of any athlete. Performing barbell complexes before a workout have also been proven to increase your overall power output. [3] This means that Barbell complexes can do the following.

  • Ramp up your fat burning hormones for rapid fat loss
  • Increase your peri-workout strength
  • Stimulate muscle fibers for hypertrophy

So, when can you use complexes?

  • As a substitute cardio workout
  • An off-day workout just to keep attendance streak alive at the gym
  • Conditioning for endurance sports
  • A workout finisher for one final shock to your entire body

Here are 3 examples of effective Barbell Complexes you can put in your training program starting today!

Lower Body Torment

  • Romanian deadlift
  • Snatch grip deadlift
  • Front squat
  • Back squat

Upper Body Blast

  • Bench press
  • Standing shoulder press
  • Barbell clean
  • Bent over rows

Full Body Submission

  • Bent over row
  • Deadlift
  • Front squat
  • Standing shoulder press
  • Bench press

The reps, sets and rest should look like this:

  • Round 1: 6 reps, No rest between exercises, 90s rest after circuit
  • Round 2: 5 reps, No rest between exercises, 90s rest after circuit
  • Round 3: 4 reps, No rest between exercises, 90s rest after circuit
  • Round 4: 3 reps, No rest between exercises, 90s rest after circuit
1) Weight training, aerobic physical activities, and long-term waist circumference change in men, Rania A. Mekary, et al., Obesity, doi: 10.1002/oby.20949, published 19 December 2014
2) October 31, 2017 by Cheryl Walker | | 336.758.6073 & Alicia Roberts | | 336.758.5237. "Lose fat, preserve muscle: Weight training beats cardio for older adults." Wake Forest News. October 31, 2017. Accessed February 25, 2018.
3) The Acute Effect of Upper-Body Complex Training on Power Output of Martial Art Athletes as Measured by the Bench Press Throw Exercise, Liossis Dimitrios Loudovikos, Forsyth Jacky, Liossis Ceorge, Tsolakis Charilaos, 10.2478/hukin-2013-0079, Published online 31 December 2013