The Bear Barbell Complex

The Bear Complex is an intense barbell complex circuit that can be used several times per week to help build strength and conditioning.

Workout Summary

Increase Endurance
Full Body
8 weeks
15-20 minutes
Male & Female
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Workout Description

The Bear Complex is a strength, muscle building and general conditioning barbell complex that can be used several times per week depending on needs and goals. "The Bear" can be used as:

  • Warm Up - As a warm up before weight training. Use a moderately light weight and perform the Bear Complex to raise core body temperature and get blood pumping into your muscles. There is no need to ramp up to heavy, maximal weights. Keep the weight on the "easy" side.
  • Off Days - Use the Bear Complex on off days with a moderate weight to work on conditioning, general physical preparedness (GPP) and recovery.
  • Strength - The Bear Complex can be used for strength building and strength endurance. Perform it after your main lifts on full body or strength training workout days.

How To Perform The Bear Complex

The Bear Complex consists of 5 barbell exercises performed back to back without resting. Each exercise flows naturally into the next. You start by power cleaning a barbell off the ground. With the barbell now resting at shoulder level perform a front squat. The third exercise in the Bear sequence is the push press. Using momentum, press the barbell over you head and lower it back down in a controlled manner to the back of your shoulders. From this position you will perform a back squat. After the back squat, perform one more push press, returning the bar to the front of your body and then back to the ground.

Perform this circuit 7 times without stopping. This is called one round.

One round requires performing the Bear Complex 7 times without resting.

5 total rounds equals a complete Bear Complex workout. You may rest in between rounds. If you are using the Bear Complex for strength training, add weight during each round, working up to your heaviest during the final round - round 5.

Bear Complex
7 Circuits Equals One Round
Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Push Press

41 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 05/05/2016 - 12:35

Could this be used as my main strength program? I don't want to break any lifting record not get bulky. I simply want to shed fat (a lot) and build some muscle to look above average fit and healthy.
I wonder if doing this 3x a week, trying to progressively increase weight on each workout, plus some sets of bench press would be ok as a go to routine.

I'm asking this because this kind of workout looks more fun and only takes a barbell and a few plates. I can see myself doing this in the long term.

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Posted Fri, 04/08/2016 - 21:14

Add a barbell rollout after the back squat and before the power clean.

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Posted Sun, 01/05/2014 - 23:05

I use this workout on my off day in a modified version. Because you are limited to the weight that you can push press, I do the following:
Clean to front squat/push press (3 reps) to back squat/push press (3 reps) back to the ground for the next clean and follow the same format for 7 total sets. I rest 90 seconds and go again 4-6 more times. I could use a little less weight and do 5 reps each on the front and back squat/push press if I wanted to.

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Posted Sat, 11/23/2013 - 01:32

the bear complex can be done with dumbbells, but it is a little different... such as: you do the deadlifts 5 times, then the power clean 5 times and the cleans are followed by a squat with dumbells on the shoulders, then 5 vertical presses without momentum and then 5 squats with the dumbbels on the shoulders...
you can rest a few moments during the routine, but never put the weights on the ground
the breaks between routines are 1 min only
the weights are progressing for each routine, and you should execute 5 to 7 routines total.
it is an excellent exercise to do in the "off" days.. not recommanded to do it after workout, as it demands a lot of energy by itself alone... it is something you would do in a day you dont do anything else.. or at least 4 hours after another workout...
good luck !

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Posted Wed, 08/28/2013 - 21:02

This would have been a perfect candidate for a mini teaching video. I read the workout 3 times before I got it and i see I wasn't the only one who didn't get it right away.

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Posted Wed, 08/14/2013 - 12:35

I have no real question, but a Crossfit gym I joined for a day listed the Bear Complex - Deadlift, Clean, Front Squat, Push Press, Back Squat, Push Press. I always did each motion, however, we did the DL, clean, and front in one motion.

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Posted Wed, 04/24/2013 - 11:04

This is a good exercise, but the weight you will be using will not be heavy enough to tax your legs properly (you can only use a weight which you can push press). I have a remedy for this, which will give you some good size and strength in your legs:

Do 3 reps of the front squat and back squat - keeping all the other moments to just 1 rep, per set. Hope this makes sense.

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Posted Tue, 08/13/2013 - 03:08

I read a modification to the bear workout somewhere online, some MMA youtube site.

Same workout but adds a few more leg bits in there to make up for the lack of leg weight. I'll indent the added exercises

Front squat
--- Reverse Lunges
Rear quat
--- Hang
--- SLDL down
--- BOR
--- SLDL up

Although it's not enough weight to tax your front or rear squat, it's probably enough to get a reaction from the reverse lunges. And once the lunges wear your legs down you'll probably notice something with the front and rear squat.

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Posted Mon, 11/26/2012 - 12:20

I use this as a form of HIIT. Its brutal. I found a good way to set intervals every 2 mins and start the next set on the interval timer. Over time this has come down to 1:50.
Don't get to caught up on high weight. You preform 70 squats, 70 shoulder presses and 35 cleans if you do the whole work out.

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Posted Sun, 06/14/2015 - 22:56

I do this as well 3 days a week. Great workout for tonnage

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Posted Mon, 10/08/2012 - 11:20

By any chance that this kind of workout can be done with dumbbells only?

many thanks,

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Posted Thu, 05/24/2012 - 03:20

this sounds like a great workout. just one question I'm currently on a 3 day full body muscle gain workout but on my off days i like to run and cycle for about 45 to an hour. i would like to add this workout to my off days, which would be best, before running or after a cardio workout? Cheers

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Posted Tue, 05/15/2012 - 13:15

You do the whole complex one time, set the bar down and immediately repeat..... One rep per each exercise per cycle. So one power clean to one front squat to one push press, to one rear squat, finish with a rear push press then set it on the ground and quickly repeat 6 more times. Take a breather then repeat the 7 rep sets 4 more times. This is one of my favorite HIIT workouts and definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a full body weight/endurance combo!

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Posted Sun, 04/22/2012 - 16:33
vincent oates

how many times do you do each work out like front squat hao many times do you do it be for frount press

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Posted Thu, 03/29/2012 - 14:43
Coach S.

Being that this circuit is very similar to what we do in Crossfit, I would suggest all those who are interested, learn how to do the "Power clean" it is a dynamic lift first with no weight at all. These exercises require you to use large amounts of core muscles. You’re going to need great form and technique when performing these exercises. Have fun, stay fit.

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Posted Sat, 01/28/2012 - 12:00

Hi there Steve.

Would you recommend using this as HIIT cardio after weight training? I would be using a lighter weight obviously.


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Posted Thu, 01/12/2012 - 15:33

Can you use this workout in a muscle building phase after a weight workout?

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Posted Thu, 12/22/2011 - 16:54

You can go to Crossfit's main web site and find demonstrations on Olympic lifts.

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Posted Thu, 10/13/2011 - 20:27

can i do this everyother day

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/14/2011 - 14:42

That will work.

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Posted Tue, 10/11/2011 - 15:19

hey man

if your doing this for strength training could it be done 3 times a week and how would u progress. and can it be done at end of a heavy chest or back session or as replacement for cardio.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/13/2011 - 14:52

Hi TJ,

You want to add weight only when you feel comfortable with the weight you are currently handling. Yes, this could be used as a replacement for cardio on pretty much any training day.

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Posted Mon, 10/10/2011 - 02:20

Sorry, but what does it mean to power clean?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/10/2011 - 10:03

Hi KIng,

The power clean is an Olympic style exercise.

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Posted Tue, 09/13/2011 - 19:44

What is the percentage of weight for each round and also what are the rest intervals between each round?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:26

Hi James,

Rest as long as you need between rounds. Go as soon as you feel ready. This could take up to 5 minutes depending on conditioning.

Weight - start light and build slowly.

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Posted Sat, 08/27/2011 - 18:50

Each circuit has 5 execises - how many reps do you do in each of these? Is it just a single one?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 08/29/2011 - 16:55

Perform this circuit 7 times without stopping. This is called one round. One round requires performing the Bear Complex 7 times without resting. 5 total rounds equals a complete Bear Complex workout.

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Posted Thu, 09/15/2011 - 17:49

That really doesn't answer the question of how many reps you should perform for every exercise in the circuit. How many reps do you perform for every exercise?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 09/29/2011 - 14:14


Yes it does. Re-read the workout. Each circuit is one rep for each exercise performed back to back. A round is 7 circuits.

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Posted Mon, 10/24/2011 - 11:49

still didnt reraly answer his question , so do u only do 1 of each excersise then or should be doing more i think maybe about 7 or 8 reps would be good

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Posted Mon, 10/24/2011 - 12:03

got it now lol sorry

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Posted Thu, 12/29/2011 - 08:30
mike wingfield

Perform 1 rep per exercise.

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Posted Tue, 04/09/2013 - 08:04

How stupid do you feel?

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Posted Sun, 06/09/2013 - 23:14

You do one of each and go to the next without stoping. when you get back to the power clean you have done one round.

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Posted Mon, 03/17/2014 - 04:18

Says who?

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Posted Sat, 04/12/2014 - 21:43

It's like they say in "P-90-X"; "Do your best, leave the rest !" If you're worried about the weight. use a light weight and do slow reps---5-count to extension, 3-count to rest, and so on. Yu'll probably start crying about the third set. Ha,ha! Have fun, man. dont take this crap too dammed serious. Remember, these guys can bench press YOU all day long .

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Posted Tue, 05/20/2014 - 15:44

John kindly stfu my friend. What has 'benching people' got anything to do with getting the body and condition YOU want? I can quite easily lift 120kg on the bench which is by far heavier than the average human being and even quite considerably heavy for someone who works out too.

Point behind my friend. I think your a materialistic prick who judges someone on their size or one of "those" guys that judges manhood on how much you can bench. Meanwhile I bet you struggle to lift yourself outta bed. Either that or you are a 12 year old prepubescent prick that has no understanding for working out. I know guys who weigh 140lbs who would FLATTEN a 300lb powerlifter, run rings round him and break his jaw without a sweat. Floyd Mayweather is 140lbs Im sure and you put him in the ring with a 300lb bodybuilder and say goodbye to him lol seriously get your attitude sorted or you are going to end up hurt. It doesnt matter HOW MUCH you lift. It is how you lift it. You can spend an entire year lifting 100kg and doing it wron whilst the man next to you will go from 100 to 140 or even more in a year by using the right technique. Form. Posture. Control. And respect for the movement. You seem like the sorta kid that goes and in throws 150kg on the squat and does 1% motion. Seriously kid. Fuck off. Lol.

Did you know you can get more gains from lifting what YOU can lift and not what YOU WISH you can lift? Goto your gym and try lifting half of what you think you can lift and try get out 100 reps. Go on. Try. Then come back and talk about benching people. Infact try and lift 10% of your max 100 times. Cant do it? Stfu then kid. Get some respect for the game.

My one rep max on squat is 170kg but do I talk about squatting more than what an average bodybuilder weighs? No. Why? Because right next to me will be a guy who weighs half my weight who would probably have a good do at snapping my jaw clean off and he wont squat 50kg.

Seriously.. take note kid.

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Posted Tue, 08/23/2011 - 12:46

I've recently become aware of barbell complexs, primarily for conditioning. This seems very interesting and I will probably try it on one of my "rest days".

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Posted Mon, 08/22/2011 - 16:22

Great circuit. Will use this as a warm up I think.

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Posted Mon, 08/15/2011 - 19:13

So I can use this after a heavy weight training session? That won't be overtraining as long as I use low weight right?