(credit to hepennypacker52)

Max-OT for DummiesEdit

Max-OT (Maximum - Overload Training) is one of the most popular training program out there, and it can give great gains in strength and size. This article will put in simple and short terms what exactly Max-OT is, what the training looks like, and what to expect from it. I've seen both beginners and experienced lifters gain well on Max-OT splits, so don't doubt it.

Who Should Use Max-OT?Edit

Anybody who is looking for a nice blend of strength and size, while keeping gym time short should do Max-OT. Max-OT also works very well for beginning lifters, but is not specific to just beginners, there are plenty of very big and very strong fellows that use the Max-OT way of training. Max-OT is also great if you are a person who complains that they can't workout because they "have no time." Max-OT would work perfect for you, because the workouts only last 30-40 minutes. Regardless, you still shouldn't have the mind-set that you have "no time" to workout, anyone can make time if they are dedicated enough.

The Principles of Max-OTEdit

We'll start by listing the principles of Max-OT, as directly stated from the Max-OT Handbook :

  1. Each workout should last 30-40 minutes.
  2. Train only 1-2 muscle groups per workout.
  3. Do 6 to 9 total heavy sets per muscle group.
  4. Do 4 to 6 reps per set.
  5. Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.
  6. Train each muscle group once every 5-7 days.
  7. Take a 1 week break from training every 8 to 10 weeks.

The steps above are quite simple. The theory behind Max-OT is that you must constantly overload the muscle, and it will keep growing. You will be using the rep range of 4-6, and will be training to positive failure each set. Your goal each week is to keep increasing the weight, while maintaining the same intensity and form. The workouts are short and to the point, but will blast your muscles into new growth. As long as you follow each of the principles, you will be training the Max-OT way correctly, and will reap the benefits of it. To give you a little further understanding, I'll break it down a little bit more.

1. Each workout should last 30-40 minutes.
Your goal for each workout is to get into the gym, blast your muscles with overloading weights, and get out. We all know that muscle isn't actually built in the gym, it's built during recovery out of the gym, so it's time to put that idea into use. Each workout should be short and sweet, but you need to put forth 100% for that 30-40 minutes, no wimping out because you're "tired".

2. Train only 1-2 muscle groups per workout.
This step goes hand-in-hand with step one. You don't want to spend 2 hours in the gym blasting every body part, you want to keep the workouts short and intense. Only train1-2 muscle groups per workout, and following the other steps, your workout will be simple and effective.

3. Do 6 to 9 total heavy sets per muscle group.
Again, we are going for overload here, not volume. You want to blast your muscles with a few sets, going to complete concentric failure. Keeping the volume low and intense will ensure optimum release of growth factors, so you're not going for fatigue here.

4. Do 4 to 6 reps per set.
This is one of the main things that defines Max-OT. You'll be using 4-6 reps on almost all exercises, there are a few that are trained using higher reps, but for the most part it's all 4-6. You should hit failure during this range. The weight should be heavy enough to stay under 6 reps if you go to failure, but not heavy where you will only be able to do 1-3 reps.

5. Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.
With the intensity level you're training at, you're going to need the 2-3 minutes of rest in between each set. You need to let your muscles rest and energize them fully for the next set in which you will blast them to failure again.

6. Train each muscle group once every 5-7 days.
After each session, your muscles are going to be totally damaged. You need to give them plenty of time to rest and grow back bigger and stronger, so that next time you workout you won't damage them again. Well the next workout you have, you'll be increasing the weights and will damage them again. Your muscles are going to need at least 5-7 days of rest after each intense workout.

7. Take a 1 week break from training every 8 to 10 weeks.
This should be done with every training program, it is not specific to just Max-OT. As you keep lifting hard, eventually your body isn't going to be able to handle the constant training, and you'll start to over train, which actually can make you lose muscle. Now losing muscle is the last thing you want, so you need to give your muscles a break. After 8 to 10 weeks of solid training, take a week of from lifting, and try to enjoy it (although some of you I know will hate not lifting for a week). After that week of rest, you'll be able to start lifting heavy again and make some fresh gains.

How to Warm Up for Max-OT SetsEdit

Warming up the Max-OT way is the most efficient way to prepare yourself for a brutally heavy set. Many people warm up wrong, and this affects their sets, even if they may not notice it. When warming up, most people spend too many sets with too much weight. This fatigues the muscle too early, and it will not be able to work to it's maximum capacity. You also are asking for injury when you start a warm up with a heavy weight, it's not a warm up then. When you warm up, you should just simply warm up. A warm up is meant to increase blood flow to that muscle, and prepare it for the heavy weights that you'll be using. You should not be tired or feel fatigued at all from any of your warm up sets. Below is an example of how to warm up for a bench press of 285lbs for 4-6 reps :

135 x 12 (warm up)
135 x 10 (warm up)
185 x 6 (warm up)
225 x 3 (weight acclimation)
255 x 1 (weight acclimation)
285 x 4-6 (work sets)

Max-OT Approved ExercisesEdit

With Max-OT training, you're going to be overloading your muscles as much as possible. You don't do this with isolation movements, you do it with compound movements. Compound movements will allow you to use the heaviest weight possible. Below are lists of approved Max-OT exercises. If an exercise is not on the list, then it probably doesn't overload the muscle as much as any of the other exercises on the list.

Approved Legs Exercises

Front Squat
Leg Press
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Leg Curl

Approved Chest Exercises

Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Incline Bench Press has
Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
Decline Barbell Bench Press

Approved Biceps Exercises

Straight Bar Curls
EZ Bar Curls
Alternate Dumbbell Curls
Cable Curls
Dumbell Hammer Curls

Approved Upper Back Exercises

Pull Downs to the Front
Close-Grip V Bar Pull Downs
Seated Cable Row
Barbell Row
T-Bar Row
One Arm Dumbbell Row

Approved Lower Back Exercises

Good Morning
Weighted Hyper-extension

Approved Triceps Exercises

Skull Crushers
Cable Press Downs
Close Grip Bench Press
Seated Triceps Extension
Behind the Back Cable Press Down
Behind the Back Dumbbell Press Down
Reverse Grip Bench Press

Approved Deltoid Exercises

Military Press
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Dumbbell Side Laterals
Dumbbell Bent Over Laterals
Dumbbell Front Raise

Approved Traps Exercises

Barbell Upright Rows
Barbell Shrugs

Approved Calf Exercises

Standing Calf Raise
Donkey Calf Raise
Seated Calf Raise
45 Degree Calf Press
Hack Machine Calf Raise

Approved Forearms Exercises

Wrist Curls
Reverse Wrist Curls
Standing Dumbbell Wrist Curls

Approved Abdominal Exercises

Lying Leg Raise
Vertical Knee Raise
Cable Crunch

What Does a Max-OT Split Look Like?Edit

So now you know the principles of the program, how to properly warm up, and what exercises to be used. Now it's time to take a look at what the actual training looks like, and it's nothing complicated. It's fully customizable for you to set up based on your schedule. Just make sure that you hit every body part, and that you abide to the 7 principles. In case you still aren't sure on what you should be doing, I'll lay out a few splits from the Max-OT Handbook.

Routine AEdit

Monday - Legs and Calves

Squat - 3x 4-6
45 Degree Leg Press - 2x 4-6
Stiff Leg Deadlift - 2x 6
Standing Calf Raise - 3x 6-8

Tuesday - Chest and Forearms

Incline Bench Press - 3x 4-6
Barbell Bench Press - 3x 4-6
Decline Bench Press - 1x 4-6

Barbell Wrist Curls - 3x 8-10
Reverse Wrist Curls - 3x 6-8

Wednesday - Back and Traps

Bent Over Barbell Row - 2x 4-6
Close Grip V-Bar Pull Down - 2x 4-6
Pull-ups - 2x 4-6
Cable Row - 1x 4-6
Deadlift - 2x 4-6
Barbell Shrug - 1x 4-6

Thursday - Shoulders and Triceps

Dumbbell Press - 3x 4-6
Military Press - 2x 4-6
Dumbbell Side Laterals - 2x 4-6

Lying Skull Crushers - 2x 4-6
Triceps Press Downs - 2x 4-6
Seated Overhead Triceps Extension - 1x 4-6

Friday - Biceps and Abs

Straight Bar Curl - 2x 4-6
Standing Dumbbell Curl - 2x 4-6
EZ Bar Curl - 1x 4-6
Leg Raise (Weighted) - 2x 12-15
Cable Crunch - 2x 8-10

Routine B (Jeff Willet's Max-OT Split)Edit

Monday - Chest and Triceps

Flat Barbell Bench Press - 2x4-6
Incline Barbell Bench Press - 2x4-6
Incline Dumbbell Press - 1x4-6
1 Arm Overhead Dumbbell Press 1x4-6
Dumbbell Kickback - 1x4-6
Cable Press Down - 1x4-6
Lying Skull Crusher - 1x4-6

Tuesday - Legs

Leg Extension (just for warm up) - 2x10
Squat - 3x4-6
Leg Press - 2x4-6
Lunges - 2x4-6
Stiff Leg Deadlifts - 2x4-6

Wednesday - Back and Biceps

Pull-ups - *x50 (as many sets as it takes to get to 50 reps)
Barbell Row - 1x4-6
Pull Downs - 1x4-6
Low Pulley Row (V Bar) - 1x4-6
Low Pulley Row (straight bar) - 1x4-6
Alternating Dumbbell Curl - 1x4-6
Straight Bar Curl - 1x4-6

Thursday - Shoulders, Traps, and Neck

Military Press - 2x4-6
Dumbbell Side Laterals - 2x4-6
Dumbbell Bent Laterals - 2x4-6
Shrugs - 2x4-6
Low Pulley Row - 2x4-6
Neck Flexion - 2x6-8
Neck Side Flexion - 2x6-8
Neck Extension - 2x6-8

Friday - Calves, Abs, and Forearms

Seated Calf Raise - 2x4-6
Standing Calf Raise - 2x4-6
45 Degree Calf Press - 2x4-6
Leg Raise - 2x20
Crunch - 2x20
Side Crunch - 2x20
Wrist Curl - 2x4-6
Reverse Wrist Curl - 2x4-6

Routine CEdit

Monday - Legs and Calves

Squat - 3x4-6
Leg Press - 2x4-6
Stiff Leg Deadlift - 2x6
Standing Calf Raise - 2x6-8
45 Degree Calf Press - 2x6-8

Tuesday - Arms and Abs

Straight Bar Curl - 2x4-6
Alternate Dumbbell Curl - 2x4-6
Cable Curl - 1x6
Lying Skull Crushers - 2x4-6
Cable Press Down - 2x6
Dumbbell Kick-back - 1x6
Wrist Curl - 2x6-8
Dumbbell Wrist Curl - 1x6-8
Leg Raise - 2x12-15
Crunch - 2x8-10
Cable Crunch - 1x8-10

Wednesday - Shoulders and Traps

Military Press - 3x4-6
Dumbbell Press - 2x4-6
Dumbbell Side Laterals - 2x6-8
Barbell Shrugs - 2x4-6
Upright Rows - 2x4-6

Thursday - Back

Cable Pull Downs - 3x4-6
Seated Cable Row - 3x4-6
Barbell Bent Row - 2x4-6
Good Morning - 2x4-6
Hyper-extension (Weighted) - 2x4-6

Friday - Chest

Barbell Bench Press - 3x4-6
Barbell Incline Bench Press - 3x4-6
Weighted Dips - 2x4-6

The Pros Use Max-OT

Just to prove that Max-OT isn't just for beginners, here are two bodybuilders and Max-OT advocates, Skip Lacour and Jeff Willet.

Wrap UpEdit

Max-OT is a tough, solid training program that will be useful whether you're bulking or cutting. Stick to the training, eat right, ensure a good amount of sleep, and Max-OT will take you places that you've never been before.

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