By Andy Haley STACK.com
There are many different ways to work out, and sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly what you need to do and when to do it. Some experts tell you to train one way, but someone else advocates a completely different method, which they absolutely swear by.
Then your head explodes from all the confusion.
Athletes typically have three primary goals in the weight room—to get bigger, stronger and more powerful. But when it all comes down to it, you need to find a program that provides the best path to achieving your specific goal.
A team of researchers from the University of Athens in Greece sought to identify the best way to structure a training program with these goals in mind. To do so, they compared compound and complex training—two popular ways to organize workouts.
In compound training, you perform heavy strength moves and explosive power-focused exercises in separate workouts, whereas complex training features heavy strength exercises supersetted with explosive exercises with minimal resistance using similar movements. For example, heavy Squats might be paired with Squat Jumps or Box Jumps.
The theory about compound training is that it allows you to put all your effort into training one strength quality. On the other hand, complex training lets you take advantage of post-activation potentiation, a process that occurs in your muscles after a heavy lift.
To test the effectiveness of each method, the researchers assessed training improvements of 25 males divided into three training groups: Compound, Complex and Control (no training). The Compound group performed strength and power training on alternate days, while the Complex group performed strength and power exercises in pairs during the same workout.
It was found that power was improved after the compound program, but not after the complex program. Strength and size were most improved with complex training.
This info provides valuable insight into the type of training best suited for your goal. If you’re looking to develop power, the most effective method is compound training. For strength and size, complex training is a better bet.
However, as with any study, there were limitations. The participants were trained moderately, and they may not have had an adequate foundation of strength to take full advantage of post-activation potentiation. Other data suggest that PAP complexes are the best way to maximize power, when performed by highly trained athletes.
If you’re just getting into training, separating your workouts (as advised by the study) is your best way forward. If you have several years of training experience and want to maximize your performance, using complex training to increase power is probably your best option.