3 Dumbbell Complexes to Help You Burn More Fat at Home

3 ways to use 3 workouts in 3 weeks.

It’s a misconception that you need a lot of equipment for a great workout. Especially when access to the gym is limited and you don’t have a lot of time to train. (Or both.)

Be creative instead and think outside of your exercise box of straight sets, supersets, and circuits and enter the world of complexes.

If you have access to dumbbells, you’ll take your conditioning and fat loss to the next level with these dumbbell complexes.

What Are Complexes?

It’s a series of back to back strength exercises blended into one training complex.  You complete all the reps of one exercise before moving on to the next and the weight doesn’t touch the ground until you’ve finished all the exercises in the complex.  

The key to a good dumbbell complex is to make sure that lifts occur is a logical way. For example, if you do a bent over row followed by front squat, how did the dumbbells get there? Doing bent over rows to a dumbbell snatch makes more sense.

[Related: 4 barbell complexes to build stamina and grip strength]

Benefits of Complexes 

Burns Fat

Complexes trigger a high degree of metabolic action, resulting in increased fat burning potential because of the reduction in rest periods, increased time under tension, and the increased need for oxygen.

Helps Muscle Imbalances 

Subtle weight shifts happen during a barbell squat, deadlift, or bench that may increase muscle imbalances between sides, particularly when you take into account that the body can sometimes favor one side over the other. Certain dumbbell complexes (like Complex B below) can help strengthen these imbalances and make you aware of them. 

Doesn’t Need A Lot Of Equipment

The nature of dumbbell complexes is doing work in a short amount of time with not a lot of rest. Doing 3 sets will smoke most people and have you heading for the showers early.

Fantastic For Conditioning

Following on from point 3, complexes are tough and intense. And doing high intensity work in a short amount of time is, well, miserable. But on the flip side, you’ll improve your conditioning.  

Versatile Set-and-Rep Schemes

You can play around with any rep variations you please, but doing either 3 reps, 8 reps or anything in between makes for a great strength, hypertrophy and fat loss workout.

Anywhere from 2 to 4 rounds of these complexes will have your lungs screaming for mercy.

[Related: How exercise reduces cabin fever]

Dumbbell Snatch
Dumbbell Snatch

How Use These Complexes 

There are three ways you can decide to approach this:

  1. Choose one complex for the week and vary the reps each time you perform it. For example, 3 reps, 5 reps, then 8 reps as the week ends.
  2. Do all of these complexes in one week, using a rep scheme of between 3-8. (Whatever you can handle.)
  3. Choose two and alternate between them for the week, using a rep scheme of between 3-8.

Complex A

  • Row
  • Snatch
  • Front Squat
  • Alternating Shoulder Press
  • Alternating Reverse Lunge 

Complex B (Unilateral Complex)

Do all exercises and reps one side before switching to the other. Both sides equal one round. Do 2-4 rounds.

  • Snatch
  • Overhead Carry
  • Front Squat
  • Push Press
  • Cross body Row

Complex C

  • RDL
  • Bent Over Row
  • Alternating Forward Lunges
  • Curl To Press
  • Front Squat

Wrapping up

Dumbbell complexes are a great way to burn fat, build muscle and improve your conditioning in a time efficient way. And you don’t need a lot of equipment; just a pair of dumbbells will have your body fat shaking in its boots. 

Featured image via Gabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock

Shane McLean

Shane McLean

Shane McLean is a Certified Personal Trainer who’s worked with a wide variety of clients, from the general population client all the way to ex-Navy seals and college athletes.

Shane is a big believer in seeing exercise as a gift for the body and never a punishment — exercise should be as enjoyable as possible and never just a “work” out.

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