Barbell Complex



The barbell complex is a "hybrid" exercise combining the hang clean, back squat and shoulder press. There are many variation of this exercise, but most often it is performed with an Olympic lift, squat, push and pull. It's very demanding on your short-term energy systems and is effective for conditioning for sports. You can use a PVC pipe, wood dowel or empty barbell to begin. Once you feel comfortable with the movements you can slowly add weight.


  • With your hands placed on the bar at hip width, set up with your back straight, chest up, and torso tight.
  • Keep your arms straight and maintain your shoulders over the bar.
  • Pull the bar off the floor in a controlled manner, still keeping the shoulders over the bar.
  • Once the bar moves above the knees, forcefully extend the body to accelerate the bar onto the shoulders.
  • Once you receive the bar on your shoulders, press the bar over your head.
  • Lower the bar carefully onto your upper back, to assume the back-squat position.
  • With the bar on your upper back, descend by bending your hips and knees, keeping the weight on your heels.
  • Rise back up to the top.
  • Press the bar over head again and return it carefully to resting.
  • This is a high skill exercise. Please seek the guidance of a USAW Certified Olympic Weightlifting coach for further instruction.


  • At set up: chest not held higher than hips, and hips not held higher than knees
  • While pulling the bar off the ground: allowing the hips to come up first.
  • Using the arms instead of the legs to accelerate the barbell onto the shoulders
  • While pressing the bar overhead: Using too much arms and not enough legs
  • While squatting: rounding the back and/or letting the knees buckle inward
Muscle Groups
Abs & Core
Full Body
Hips & Buttocks
Upper Body
Leg power and strength
Glute power and strength
Hip power and strength
Torso strength and stabilization
Upper body power and strength

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