57432_681112378594531_442968837_oA bit less than a month ago, I wrote about the pros and cons to using weightlifting complexes to improve technique and strength. I outlined the reasons you should or should not include weightlifting complexes. This following article is thus about common mistakes and complexes to address the mistakes. I will give my rationale for using them for mistake correction.  I don’t believe that any of this is novel, but putting it all together in a same article is a great way to put things in perspective. Complexes can be about everything, but here i’m listing some that I like and use and I kept it simple for this reason.  As outlined in Part 1, It goes without saying that these complexes should be included only if you are far from competition and not replace the lifts themselves (You still need to snatch and clean and jerk if you want to refine your skill). 

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Snatch complexes

1378523_610239665681803_308129110_n”FP Warm up complex”

Mistake : Many athletes I work with didn’t warm up correctly for weightlifting. So, I wrote a barbell complex to warm up for them. They go through it 3 times.

Complex : Overhead squat + drop snatch (no push) + Push snatch press + kang squats

Rep scheme : 5+5+5+5

Good little barbell complex to get the blood flowing in the right spot and helps losen up. It should not be done rapidly. The goal here is to really get the bodily structures ready for weightlifting. This is much better than passive stretching before training.


Mistake : Bar is pulled to the hip and then banged away resulting in lack vertical force applied to the bar and excessive back use.

Complex :  Muscle snatch (no thighs/hips touch) + snatch without jumps

Rep scheme : 1+2

This mistake is very common. Actually, this is probably the most common mistake in weightlifting. Sometimes it’s due to timing errors and other times it’s due to positioning errors. Anyhow, we could say that it’s due to 1) improper extension, 2) pull not finished, 3) not using the hips correctly. Thus, the muscle snatch without touching the legs forces the lifter to extends forcefully and in a straight fashion. It’s one of the only way to really work on the turn over and you cannot complete this with the bar travelling forward. The snatch without jump is a good drill to force the lifter to keep the bar close and move fast under the barbell. It’s one of the only way to really work on the pull under.


1239818_594436653928771_506032730_nMistake : Bar trajectory is good, but the lifter does not make the bar move fast or make it achieve good height

Complex: Power snatch + Snatch

Rep scheme : 2+1

This is a very common complex. The power snatch teaches to forcefully extend and pull long. Too much power snatch is not good, and that’s why we add the regular snatch at the end. We actually want to use that nice and long pull in the snatch itself. Whatever you learn in your complex has to transfer in the full lift.


Mistake : various pull mechanics problem

Complex : Pull + snatch

Rep scheme : 3+1 or 2

That’s a very common complex as well. I don’t program it too often because I like to separate pull work and and the classic work. Anyhow, when I do use it, I will have the lifter stand on a platform/podium (or some plates) to make the pull longer and harder. This helps in teaching how to stay over the bar a lot. If that does not work, I will have the lifter execute the pulls with the heels out of the podium a little bit (not too excessively, no body wants to be a toe puller). Since the lifter can’t go to this heel right away, he has to stay over the bar and pull through the midfoot. After being done with the pull, he centers himself on the podium to do the snatches. I rarely program high pulls here. Sometimes I will also have the athlete do the pulls without being able to touch the ground after each reps. The eccentric part of the movement builds position well.


Clean complexes

1170890_581713775201059_176979608_nMistake : Bar crashes on the athlete when he receives the bar. 

Complex : clean 90degrees + clean

Rep scheme : 1+1

Nothing is worse than not meeting the bar whenever you clean. It makes the task of weightlifting just much harder. The clean 90 degrees is clean where you catch the bar around parallel (so not full, but not standing up as well). Thus the clean 90 teaches you to receive the bar a bit higher so you can really bounce out of the hole. During the following clean, that’s what you have to do.


Mistake : Getting pinned down in the hole and missing the bounce.

Complex : Clean 90 + double bounce front squat

Rep scheme : 2 + 1 or 2

Getting pinned down in the hole is often due to the bar crashing on you in the hole. The clean 90 teaches you to have the bar on your shoulders at parallel. Not catching up the bounce may also be due to poor bounce mechanics which a front with a double bounce can work specifically. The double bounce FS is a squat where you bounce, go up a bit past parallel, and you go back down to bounce and stand up.


64433_527555260616911_2093517301_nMistake : lack of strength or bad positioning during the squat

Complex : the famous clean + front squat

Rep scheme : 2+3

I like two cleans, rather than one, because all the strength in the world won’t help you stand up if you don’t pull and catch correctly. I wrote 3 squats, but it can be done with 1 or 2 squats obviously.


Jerk complex

Mistake : mobility issues during the split jerk

Complex : Jerk + Over head lunge (not moving the feet) + Jerk push press

Rep Scheme : 1 + 3 + 2

this helps build good overhead mobility and hip mobility. It’s impossible to hold the right positions without the right mobility.


Mistake : missing jerks after hard clean (not driving enough)

Complex : Front squats + jerks

Rep scheme : 3+1

This complexes serves to depletes your legs so that you get used to the feeling of jerking on tired legs (as would happens following a hard clean). It’s good to toughen you mentally for this reason. Usually, 3 front squats works well but I have had success with 1 as well. Usually, the first week I program 3+1, second week we up the weight and go 2+1 and third week we will do 1+1 with even higher weights.


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I used pictures of Wonderlifter. Here is Wonderlifter’s facebook.


  1. Excellent article. How do you program complexes into your athletes workouts? Do you assign percentages or do you allow them to work up on the complex?

    1. Hi Peter,

      I always have percentage in mind, but we also auto regulate a lot. Usually I pick numbers already, but if it’s a good day we may go up a bit. If it’s a bad day, we will do less. I usually program complexes during volume phases, so I tend to have them stay around 80% +/- 5%.

  2. Superb article!
    I just don’t understand the first Jerk Complex:
    Do you: first (1) do a split jerk (but not bringing your feet together), then (2) lower yourself three times so your knee touches the ground, and in the end (3) pushpress the weight twice out of the lunge?
    Or did I get it totally wrong?

    Thanks for your time and help!

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