In terms of fitness, BJ Gaddour uses the phrase "thunder and lightning" to describe complex training, where you alternate between a heavy strength training exercise performed at maximal or near-maximal effort and a lighter, unloaded power training exercise performed explosively for the same muscle group(s) or a similar movement pattern. Please note that this is different than complexes, which involve performing a series of exercises consecutively without rest using the same training tool.
Strength training comprises the THUNDER part of the complex set. It is performed at high levels of resistance at a slower, more controlled speed. Use a 3-1-X tempo, allowing for up to six reps in 30 seconds followed by a 30 second rest and transition. This means you will lower the weight/load in three seconds, pause for a count and then explode back to the starting position and repeat for time. This tempo eliminates the stretch reflex, the natural bounciness and elasticity in your muscles and connective tissues and thus forces your muscles to fully engage and work harder.
Power training comprises the LIGHTNING part of the complex set. It is performed at low to moderate levels of resistance (or less resistance than the strength exercise) and at a high speed for 15 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. Then you move onto another complex set for a non-competitive movement pattern in a circuit format for a great whole body workout.
In the video above, BJ shows us the TRX Thunder and Lightning Workout. The incomplete rest periods between the movements result in a cumulative fatigue over the course of the 20 minute workout that will dramatically improve work capacity, cardiovascular conditioning and muscular endurance as well.
Complex Set #1 - Knee Dominant Lower Body Movement
- THUNDER: Sandbag Zercher Squat
- LIGHTNING: TRX Jump Squat
Complex Set #2 - Upper Body Pushing Movement
- THUNDER: TRX Incline Press
- LIGHTNING: Band Speed Push Press
Complex Set #3 - Upper Body Pulling Movement
- THUNDER: TRX Close Grip Row
- LIGHTNING: Battling Rope Slam
Bonus Complex - Hip Dominant Lower Body Movement
(This bonus round can be used as a substitute for Complex #1.)
- THUNDER: TRX Leg Curl
- LIGHTNING: Kettlebell Swing
This type of complex training will result in greater muscle-building and fat-burning for some killer whole body toning and tightening as well as a boost in overall strength, power and athletic performance, perfect to help you burst through any frustrating training plateaus! Are you ready for the storm??
BJ Gaddour, CSCS, is the co-creator and fitness director for Workout Muse. He is a fitness bootcamp and metabolic training expert who regularly contributes to Men's Health, MSN Fitbie and various other media outlets. For more from Workout Muse, be sure to check out their best-selling app, iWorkout Muse PRO for the iPhone and iPod Touch, which allows you to build custom interval training soundtracks mixed to your favorite music.