The Bear Complex – How to get a lot out of one bar!

Barbell complexes are a unique, fun and challenging training method that can be used to achieve many goals. The bear complex is a great example of one! The benefit is the time under tension that you can create which will stimulate strength, hypertrophy, fat loss and metabolic conditioning. Complexes also are a unique challenge for the core and grip due to the extended time under load.

Complexes really are an all in one method!

The bear complex is a 5 exercise complex consisting of…

1 Power Clean

1 Front Squat

1 Push Press

1 Back Squat

1 Push Press (behind the neck)

Check out this video for a demo of the Bear Complex:

Bear Complex – Exercise Demo

So, once you have the Bear Complex exercises down whats the best way to perform it? Here’s a few great ways to try depending on your goals.

Bear Complex 1RM

This is dead simple. Start with a moderate weight and build up until you hit the heaviest weight you can manage! Rest 2-3 mins after you perform each complex to allow sufficient recovery so you can lift maximally. As with all complexes you will be limited by your weaker exercises but you will still get some good volume with decent weights.

Rugby Strength Workout: Bear Complex 1RM

Bear Complex Rapid Fire 1RM

Exactly the same as the last method only you don’t rest 2-3mins but only as long as it takes you to load the bar up! Use jumps in weight of 5-10kg depending on your strength level and how much work you want to do! Obviously you won’t get up to as heavy weights but you will know you’ve had a good conditioning workout by the end!

Bear Complex EMOM 

Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes perform 1 bear complex with 80% of your Push Press 1RM. This is a great way to get some great volume and time under tension with a decent load in just ten minutes.

Bear Complex 30 Reps for Time!

Inspired by CrossFit legend Rich Froning and his battle with Dan Bailey. Pick a weight with a partner and compete to complete 30 reps the quickest! Not for the faint of heart!

Big Bear Complex 1-5

Load = Moderate-Light!

Here you perform:

1 complex rest 60 secs

2 consecutive complexes rest 60 secs

3 consecutive complexes rest 60 secs

4 consecutive complexes rest 60 secs

5 consecutive complexes rest 60 secs

Collapse in a heap!

Low Reps Bear Complex

The goal here is more for hypertrophy than conditioning. Choose a moderate weight and perform 3-5 reps of each exercise of the complex for 3-5 sets with 2-3 mins rest.


High Reps Bear Complex

This time the goal is more conditioning/fat loss. Choose a light weight and perform 6-8 reps of each exercise in the complex for 3-4 sets with 60-90s rest. The 60secs rest really does fly by on this one!

bear complex 3

Heavy Legs Bear Complex

As stated earlier complexes can be limited by certain exercises and in this case the push press. To get round this we will do higher reps for the lower body exercises. It works out to:

3 Power Cleans

5 Front Squats

2 Push Press

5 Back Squats

2 Push Press

This really is a tough leg workout 3-4 sets is usually enough!

Ascending Reps Bear Complex

For time:

Complex of 1 rep each exercise

Complex of 2 rep each exercise

Complex of 3 rep each exercise

Complex of 4 rep each exercise

Complex of 5 rep each exercise

Use a moderate to light weight and rest as much or as little as you need.

Wrap Up!

Hopefully you can see the benefits of the Bear Complex and now have a few workouts to try! Give them a go and let us know how you get on. Just remember its harder than you think!! #BuildingMachines

bear complex 4

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