How to Build Muscle Fast With Complexes

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Barbell Workout

I'm often asked, "What is the fastest way to build muscle?" Building muscle is all about time under tension, or the amount of time your muscles work under a load. The longer your muscles work, the more they will grow. So, to answer the question, I always reply: "complexes."

The traditional method for building muscle is to perform an exercise for two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps, using enough weight so that the last two reps are challenging. Complexes take this one step further.

Complexes are designed so that you can perform continuous exercise for 60 to 90 seconds. This duration would be difficult, or even impossible, with the traditional method if you're using sufficient weight to challenge your muscles. By switching exercises, you are able to continuously challenge your body without succumbing to fatigue.

A complex should include two to 10 exercises performed with one to 10 reps. To build muscle, you want to be on the higher end of the rep range. The goal should be to select the appropriate number of exercises and reps that will allow you to work continuously for 60 to 90 seconds. It's best to perform a complex at the end of your strength routine since it will leave you fatigued and unable to continue your workout.

For a muscle-building boost, perform one of the following complexes at the end of your strength workout. Perform each exercise for five reps.

Complex 1

  • RDL
  • Bent-Over Row 
  • High Pull
  • Hang Clean 
  • Overhead Press 
  • Front Squat 

Complex 2

  • Hang Clean and Press 
  • Front Squat
  • High Pull 
  • Jump Shrug
  • RDL

Complex 3

  • Bent Row
  • High Pull
  • Hang Snatch
  • Back Squats
  • Behind-the-Neck Push Press
  • Good Mornings

Complex 4

  • Barbell Push-Ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Hang Snatch
  • Overhead Squat
  • Back Squat
  • Front Squat

If you have any questions, let me know at


Connor Flahive is the owner and head sports performance coach at Flahive's Advanced Strength Training (F.A.S.T.) in Park Ridge, Ill. F.A.S.T. specializes in strength, power and speed training for power sports. Flahive is a certified high school strength and conditioning specialist through the IYCA. He played football at the D-I level while earning his bachelor's degree in exercise science at Northern Illinois University. Visit his website at and view his channel at

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