A comparison of the effects of 6 weeks of traditional resistance training, plyometric training, and complex training on measures of strength and anthropometrics

J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Feb;26(2):422-31. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318220df79.


Complex training (CT; alternating between heavy and lighter load resistance exercises with similar movement patterns within an exercise session) is a form of training that may potentially bring about a state of postactivation potentiation, resulting in increased dynamic power (Pmax) and rate of force development during the lighter load exercise. Such a method may be more effective than either modality, independently for developing strength. The purpose of this research was to compare the effects of resistance training (RT), plyometric training (PT), and CT on lower body strength and anthropometrics. Thirty recreationally trained college-aged men were trained using 1 of 3 methods: resistance, plyometric, or complex twice weekly for 6 weeks. The participants were tested pre, mid, and post to assess back squat strength, Romanian dead lift (RDL) strength, standing calf raise (SCR) strength, quadriceps girth, triceps surae girth, body mass, and body fat percentage. Diet was not controlled during this study. Statistical measures revealed a significant increase for squat strength (p = 0.000), RDL strength (p = 0.000), and SCR strength (p = 0.000) for all groups pre to post, with no differences between groups. There was also a main effect for time for girth measures of the quadriceps muscle group (p = 0.001), the triceps surae muscle group (p = 0.001), and body mass (p = 0.001; post hoc revealed no significant difference). There were main effects for time and group × time interactions for fat-free mass % (RT: p = 0.031; PT: p = 0.000). The results suggest that CT mirrors benefits seen with traditional RT or PT. Moreover, CT revealed no decrement in strength and anthropometric values and appears to be a viable training modality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Weight
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Plyometric Exercise*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / anatomy & histology
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology
  • Young Adult