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Barbell Complex WOD | Workout Of The Day

A guy completing a barbell complex wod.

This barbell complex WOD (workout of the day) has been designed as a complete whole-body functional fitness builder. As well as engaging all the major muscle groups, it also stimulates the heart and lungs.

The workout is comprised of a powerful blend of big compound movements and plyometric bodyweight exercises. So, if you do decide to have a bash at this barbell complex WOD, be warned, it will expose any chinks in your fitness armour.

It’s the combination of attributes briefly outlined above that make this workout an ideal all-purpose training session. In one 30-minute sesh, the following three components of fitness will be engaged: strength, muscle endurance, and cardio.

And because it requires minimal exercise equipment to perform – just an Olympic barbell, a selection of bumper plates, and barbell safety clips – this barbell complex WOD is accessible to a wider audience.

Also, the complex can be tailored to suit a range of training objectives. For example, if you want to focus solely on strength development, below we explain how to modify the workout to achieve this desired outcome.

Barbell complex WOD benefits

If the above whistle-stop tour of fitness benefits was enough to whet your appetite for this workout, hit the link and get started. However, for those that need a little more convincing, what follows is an assessment of the fitness benefits you could bag if you include this barbell complex WOD in your training routine.

The barbell complex WOD builds strength

The first fitness benefit on offer is strength development. Because the complex is comprised of compound exercises, it has the capacity to build strength in all the major muscle groups. Of course, to realise this training effect, ‘you need to train according to basic power principles – fewer reps and sets, more rest between sets, but with increased poundage,’ (The Encyclopaedia Of Modern Bodybuilding ).

Enhanced muscle endurance

A slight modification can transform this barbell complex WOD from a superior strength builder to one that explodes muscle endurance. By reducing the weights and increasing the sets and reps, the focus of the workout will be shifted to that of promoting endurance and enhancing muscle tonality.

If you plan to integrate the complex into your general training routine, it is best to apply the muscle endurance formula. Regular strength training places a lot of stress on the body which increases injury risk.

In addition, keeping the weight low will enable you to perfect your lifting form. Also, reducing the intensity makes this workout suitable to complete multiple times throughout the week.

Improved metabolic conditioning (MetCon)

If you pluck up the courage to pit yourself against the CrossFit-inspired AMRAP (as many reps as possible), this barbell complex WOD provides a metabolic conditioning kick. As defined by one leading online publication, MetCon refers to an exercise approach that increases the available energy stored and utilised by the body.

The weights – or ‘loads’ – used in a MetCon workout are typically lower than when training for strength. But though the loads are low the volume is high. Modifying the intensity and volume will enable you to maintain a consistent output for the duration of the workout.

Barbell complex wod key benefits

  • Promotes strength in the major muscle groups

  • Can also increase muscle endurance

  • Can be modified as a MetCon workout

  • Improves general fitness

  • Enhances physical functionality

How this barbell complex WOD works

You have three training options to choose from. Each option has been designed to bring about a specific training outcome. Option 1 observes the standard strength formula. Option 2 aims to improve muscular endurance. And the third option will improve general fitness conditioning. Here’s how to approach each option.

Option 1 | Strength

Recalling Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sage advice, to build strength ‘you need to train according to basic power principles – fewer reps and sets, more rest between sets, but with increased poundage,’ (The Encyclopaedia Of Modern Bodybuilding). Thus, the sets and reps for Option 1 are comparatively low – 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps. Between sets ensure to take a minimum of 2-minutes rest. This will provide you with sufficient time to recover before starting the next heavy lift. One point of note. The reps for the body weight exercise remain high throughout the workout – 15 to 20. Why? Because it’s good for you!

Option 2 | Muscle endurance

Because the focus of Option 2 is muscular endurance, the set and rep numbers have increased – 40 to 6 sets of 12 to 20 reps. Consequently, the weight that you select for each exercise will have to be adjusted to accommodate the increase in volume. It’s recommendable to select a weight range of 40 to 60% of your one-repetition max.

Option 3 | MetCon

Organised around a series of 5-minute AMRAP, the objective of Option 3 is to amass as many reps as possible on each of the seven exercises. To maintain a consistent output for the duration of the AMRAP, select a light- to moderate-intensity weight – 30 to 60% one-repetition max. AMRAPs are most effective when training discipline is maintained. So, with that said, aim to maximise each minute and resist the temptation to take more rest than the stipulated amount.

Barbell complex WOD key points

  • Ensure to complete a 10-minute progressive intensity warm-up prior to picking up that barbell.

  • Select the workout option that aligns with your training objectives.

  • Armed with an Olympic barbell, an assortment of bumper plates and safety clips (and a countdown timer if you’ve selected the AMRAP, sequester yourself in a quiet corner of the gym and go for it!


  • 3-minutes rowing (or skipping – or airdyne cycling) – maintain a light- to moderate-intensity

  • 1 up to 5 reps barbell squats to deadlifts (use a light barbell)

  • 3-minutes rowing (or skipping – or airdyne cycling) – maintain a moderate- to high-intensity

  • 1 up to 5 hang cleans to thrusters (use a light barbell)

A workout plan of the Hungry4Fitness barbell complex wod.

Workout hints and tips

If you’re scratching your head over what a deadlift to high pull is, the movement is a merger of two separate exercises. After performing the first phase of a sumo deadlift (standing tall holding a barbell at your front), pop out a high pull. To do so simply raise the bar level with your chest. The exercise should be performed in one smooth movement, with no breaks or pauses from pick up to put down.

Ensure that you have a range of barbell discs to hand so that you can quickly change up and down the weights when transitioning between exercises. To maximise each lift and sufficiently stimulate each muscle group, you will have to tailor the poundage accordingly. Of course, the weight that will present a challenge for thrusters will likely present little more than a warm-up for squats.

If you're a beginner or are not completely confident at performing some of the exercises, either change them or get some practice in on this beginner barbell workout. Alternatively, use a much lighter load on potentially problematic barbell exercises.


Enjoyed this barbell complex WOD?

Get your hands on 70 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 2.

This image shows the Hungry4Fitness book of circuits and workouts volume two. Inside the image it identifies the key features of the book which include: Over 70 fully customisable circuits and workouts suitable for all levels of fitness and ability; 4-Week Functional Fitness Training Programme; How to create your own circuits and workouts including essential training principles; Key exercise explanations and tutorials; A complete guide to fitness testing; The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge; CrossFit-style training sessions including EMOM, AMRAP, and HIIT workouts; An illustrated, step-by-step guide to stretching.


This barbell complex wod workout concludes with the author bio. It reads: In this text box it says: As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance! Blog Author: Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.

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