How to Program for Complex Training and Depth Jumps (Part 3 of 3)

By Collis Spann

Over the past few weeks we discussed complex training to enhance performance and keep you healthy here and here.

In this post, we discuss how our sports performance program is actually programmed, using several different tools to track athlete progression. Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are useful for tracking reps, sets, intensity, volume, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). See illustration below for a snapshot of the programming.

The training cycle is programmed based on the start date of the athlete’s upcoming season to avoid fatigue and injury, and reach peak performance. Complex training (CT) is integrated as supersets with powerlifting, as well as Olympic lifting movements, being featured prominently to ensure post-activation potentiation (PAP). For example:

  • 1a. Squat – 3x10 – 65%
  • 1b. Staggered Stance Broad Jump – 3x3 each


  • 1a. Power Clean + Push Press + Front Squat – 4x2 each
  • 1b. Depth 24”-to-Box Jump 30” – 3x6 (alternating initial foot drop)

The total number of jumps should not exceed 30, especially if depth jumps are being used. When supervising the athlete, it’s important to ensure proper technique and jumping mechanics. Should any deviations, such as valgus knees occur, end the plyometric exercise or decrease the height of the depth. Once compromises in the athlete’s form are noted, if modifications are not made, the athlete is at an increased risk for serious injury.

It is important to note that the use of plyometrics as part of a superset is not always appropriate; determining whether or not they are is up to the discretion of both the coach and athlete. In determining whether a plyometric is appropriate, it’s important to consider if the complementary lift requires the athlete’s full focus and recovery.

Consideration should also be given to what percentage of the athlete’s one rep max (1RM) the lift is being completed at. For example, I have a tendency to utilize plyometrics as part of a superset during the “medium” or “speed/dynamic” week of my program. This means that the athlete is working between 65% and 69% of their 1RM for powerlifts or 70% of their 1RM for Olympic lifts. During heavy weeks where the intensity is increased, I may prohibit plyometrics during those main lifts and push them to complete the plyometrics towards the end of their workout with their accessory lifts. In making this determination, I will consider the stresses on the central nervous system (CNS) as well as which lift is the focus of the workout.

It’s important to consider all components of a workout when deciding whether or not to use plyometrics as supplemental exercises. Be sure to encourage athlete feedback on the program, and promote auto-regulation when it is necessary for the athlete.

Here at HIT Training, we use a 6-week pendulum, and have found great results! Athletes have increased upon their previous maximum lifts, times have dropped in their speed tests, coordination, agility, and stability has increased, and most of all confidence and attitude has improved!


  • Smith, C., Lyons, B., Hannon, J. C. (2014). A Pilot Study Involving the Effect of Two Different Complex Training Protocols on Lower Body Power. Human Movement, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p141 6p.
  • Starzynski, T., Sozanski, H. (1995). Explosive power and jumping ability for all sports: atlas of exercises. Island Pond, VT: Stadion Publishing Company, Inc.