Why and How to Use Weightlifting Complexes

/ / All, Olympic Weightlifting, Strength and Conditioning


What is a weightlifting complex?

It is when a series of weightlifting movements are done one after the other without rest for an “x” amount of repetitions. For example, a snatch complex may include a snatch deadlift, followed by a snatch pull, followed by a hang snatch, and an overhead squat. There are many variations of complexes depending on the coaches/weightlifters creativity. Also, there should always be a purpose to your complexes, you shouldn’t do them just for the sake of doing them.


Snatch Deadlift + Snatch Pull + Hang Power Snatch + Overhead Squats – (5+5+3+3 repetitions)

Why weightlifting complexes can be effective?

If programmed correctly, weightlifting complexes can help develop technique, improve areas of weakness in both lifts, increase hypertrophy, and increase training tolerance. Weightlifting complexes should be programmed during the earlier phase of training or transition phase where volume is high and intensity is relatively low (emphasis on technique).

However, heavier complexes can also be done during the strength phase of training. Strength complexes are done with lower reps and heavier weights. Strength complexes can stimulate strength and muscle growth because of the increased duration of tension and heavier weights being used.

Strength Complexes Guide:

  • 2-3 Movements
  • 1-3 Repetitions per exercise
  • 3-9 Total Complex Repetitions


via hookgrip

Clean Deadlift (Slow eccentric) + Full Clean + Jerk – (3+1+1 repetitions) 

The focus here is to strengthen the lifters back or pulling strength, hence the slow tempo and higher repetition of the first movement of the complex.

via hookgrip

Clean + Front Squat + Jerk – (2+3+1 repetitions)

The focus here is to have the lifter get comfortable with maintaining good posture with heavy loads during the front squat position by increasing the repetition on his front squat movement of the complex.

Here is my favorite strength complex:  

via hookgrip

Snatch Deadlift + Snatch Pull + Snatch

The bottom line is that the complexes you do should be specific to your needs and should address your weaknesses. The right approach and programming of complexes will increase productivity which will carry-over to both the snatch and clean & jerk.

Tell me your favorite complex by commenting below! #LiftandGrit