We live in a world where many of us are regularly aiming to make the most out of each day. Time has become a valuable commodity and knowing how to efficiently use it is everything. As a fitness professional, I am regularly asked to program short duration, effective workouts. One of my favorite workouts to do when I am short on time is called the Bear Complex.
The Bear Complex consists of five exercises performed with a barbell that are executed in a series before resting. These exercises include a power clean, front squat, push press, back squat, and a behind the head push press. The key here is that the same weight must be utilized for all five movements. I generally coach clients to begin with a weight they can push press for 2-3 reps and are comfortable bringing behind their head and pressing from that same position. Weight can always be added or subtracted from the barbell if it is too light or too heavy after a series is completed.
Begin with the barbell on the ground with the desired weight. Stand in the middle of the barbell with your feet hip-width apart and your shins nearly touching the bar. Hinge at the hips, sending your hips back, maintaining a flat back, and grip the bar just outside your knees. This is your starting position for the power clean. Make sure your shoulders are in front of the bar, with a flat back, and tight core. Driving through the feet, your hips and shoulders should rise simultaneously into triple extension at the ankle, knees, and hips as you pull the bar up. Finish the movement by pulling your body underneath the barbell catching it in a front rack position, landing in a half squat and then standing up.
From the standing front rack position, with a strong core, send your hips back and knees out maintaining an upright torso, and drop into a squat, with your hip crease dropping below your knees. Then drive up through the heel and midfoot, engaging your leg muscles, squeezing your core, and keeping your elbows up and return back to a standing front rack position.
Maintaining that front rack in a standing position, quickly dip your hips back and send your knees out into a quarter squat, then drive through the legs to push the bar above your head. Make sure your core and glutes are contracted and shoulders blades are squeezed together when the bar is above your head with arms fully extended.
Slowly bring the bar behind your head to rest on your shoulders. In doing so, be careful not to hit the bony parts of your neck in the process. Bend your knees to absorb the weight upon impact. Standing tall, descend into a back squat, keeping your chest up, sending your hips back while shoving the knees out, breaking the hip crease. From there, drive through midfoot and heel maintaining an upright torso while engaging leg muscles and your core.
Push Press (from behind the head)
Following the squat from a standing position, dip your hips back once more and shove your knees out into a quarter squat. Then drive through the legs to the push the bar back overhead in an arms extended position again. Slowly lower the bar to your chest and bring it down to the ground.
Congratulations you’ve completed the Bear Complex! This series of large muscle group exercises will quickly increase your heart rate and will challenge your strength, stamina, and endurance. Try completing one series every minute for an EMOM (every minute on the minute) for 10 minutes. Then combine it with a high-intensity metabolic workout like the one below:
3 rounds for time
12 Burpees over barbell
18 Russian Kettlebell swings
24 Box Jumps
Burpee over barbell
Standing parallel to the barbell and to one side of it, drop to the ground in a full push up then quickly pick yourself up and jump into the air, jumping over the barbell to the other side and landing on two feet. That is one repetition. Repeat this movement twelve times.
Russian Kettlebell Swing
Stand with your feet hip-width apart or just outside of your hips with the kettlebell on the ground, slightly in front of you. Hinge at the hips with a flat back as you reach for the kettlebell. Let the kettlebell naturally swing between your legs as you initially grab it. From there, drive your hips, primarily your hamstrings and glutes, to a standing hip extended position. The energy created from this motion should be sent into the kettlebell to allow it to swing up naturally without having the arms take over. As the kettlebell naturally swings back down, quickly hinge once more, sending your hips back, and the kettlebell between the legs with arms fully extended prepping you for your next swing. Repeat this movement 18 times.
Stand in front of a box less than a foot away. With a slight bend in the knees, hinge forward with arms extended back. Driving knees out while bending them, quickly accelerate up and towards to the box, landing on it with knees pushed out, feet fully in contact, and arms in front. Step down from the box. Repeat this movement 24 times.
Aim to finish in 15 minutes or less for a total 25 to 30-minute workout that will leave your metabolic rate on overdrive the rest of the day and with a full body pump!