One of my favorite ways to get in a quick and hard-hitting training session is using a barbell complex. While I have written on this topic before, No More Boring Cardio, there are numerous executions to explore. Today, I will introduce you to a new one—The 5×5. This is a brutal barbell complex, because you are performing dynamic and strength-based movements all strung together creating an extremely intense conditioning session.


Even though I say it is a brutal training session, it is something that anyone can do. You just need to be smart and stay focused on technique in every life. Here are some quick tips for mastering any barbell complex:

– Focus on the speed of the bar on every lift.
– Keep proper technique through each movement.
– Don’t be afraid to use a lighter weight (remember, speed is the focus).
– Practice each movement independently before stringing them together in a complex.
– Master each movement (or, if you are a trainer, make sure your client masters them).
– Take proper rest periods. 90-120 seconds is ideal to allow for nervous system recovery between sets. This is not a cardio session
– Complete a minimum of 3 sets, and increase to 6 sets as your conditioning improves.
– Perform 5 repetitions of each movement as a general rule.
– Scale the weight up or down depending on the rep scheme that you use. You can decrease to 4 repetitions for beginners, or increase to 6-8 reps for an advanced individual or client.


Here are the exercises in The 5×5:

Romanian Dead Lift (RDL)
Bent Over Row
Hang Clean
Front Squat
Push Press

Each movement is done for the prescribed number of reps, then you move on to the next movement. Do each one in sequence without putting the bar down. For example:

5 repetitions of RDL
5 repetitions of Bent Over Row
5 repetitions of Hang Clean
5 repetitions of Front Squat
5 repetitions of Push Press

Rest for 90-120 seconds between each set, and repeat for the number of sets that fit best for you or your training client. I recommend 3-6 total sets.

Here is a quick video that I made demonstrating each of the movements and how to properly perform them. Enjoy!

[vid file=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/FRxW-CallieMarch27-video.mp4″ image=”” width=”640″ height=”360″]