Max OT (Maximum Overload Training) Program
July 10th, 2013
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At Muscle Coach we recognise that one size does not fit all. Therefore we have formulated multiple variations of each training program depending on your training frequency. Typically people will get better results with higher training frequency especially if they are past the beginner training phase. However you can still get good results even if you are restricted to just three training sessions each week as long as you diet and supplement properly.
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Max OT Overview
Max OT training is based on the principle that overloading your muscles with the heaviest resistance possible creates the best stimulus for growth. Therefore Max OT workouts will consist of high intensity but low volume in order to maximise muscle and strength gains. The training method was developed by Paul Delia, the CEO of AST Sports Science over 10 years ago and continues to be used by many successful bodybuilders at both a professional and amateur level today. It doesn't matter whether your goal is to win the next natural Mr Olympia title or just shed a few kgs for summer, the principles of Max OT will give you the best results.
Max OT training is based on the basic premise that strength + nutrition = muscle size when you are doing bodybuilding naturally. You may be asking, well if this is true then why aren't power lifters as big as bodybuilders? Or then why don't bodybuilders just train like power lifters? The answer is that unlike power and Olympic lifters, bodybuilders need to develop strength for all muscles using many different exercises in order to create a well balance physique.
The advocates of Max OT are often controversial because they make claims and employ many principles that contradict what you will typically read in a bodybuilder's magazine. One of the more controversial of these claims would be that many professional bodybuilders who compete in "untested competitions" are using steroids and therefore are able to or in fact required to train by an entirely different set of principles and techniques than natural bodybuilders. The dilemma that this creates for your average unknowing gym enthusiast is that they are either watching or reading about training programs created by bodybuilder's that are playing by a different set of rules. The result for your average gym guy is that they will typically see some results from their training but never access their true potential.... well that is of course until they find out about Max OT!
So What Does it Mean to Workout Max OT Style?
- Train 30-45 mins each session
- Only train 1 or 2 muscle groups each workout
- 6-9 heavy high intensity working sets per muscle group
- 4-6 reps each set (except abs)
- 2-3 mins break between sets
- Train each muscle group only once every 5-7 days
- Take one week rest from training every 8-10 weeks
- Leave at least 12 hrs between cardio sessions
- Only ever train high intensity cardio (interval training)
- Leave at least 24 hrs between weights sessions
More on the Principles of Max OT
One of the most common errors of people who start training at the gym is over training. If you are training naturally and are training at a high intensity then you really shouldn't need to be in the gym for any more than 45 mins. Long training sessions will wear down your central nervous system and will increase muscle tissue breakdown. Muscle tissue breakdown in this sense is different from the micro tears caused from lifting weight, it refers to the body going into a catabolic state where muscle tissue is metabolised for energy.
6-9 Heavy High Intensity Sets
If you are new to weight training you may break the rule of training only one or two muscle groups per workout as 6-9 heavy sets on one muscle group may be too much. However for most people 6-9 sets on one muscle group per session and working out that muscle group once each week will be perfect. If you train a muscle group more than once a week you are either not allowing your body proper recovery or you are not training that muscle group at a high enough intensity for maximum muscle growth.
The Importance of Rest
In Max OT training, rest is just as important as training and that is why it is recommended to take one full week off weights training every 8-10 weeks. Most people would think of this week as "losing gains" but in fact it is the opposite. During this week your body will actually be very anabolic as your muscles go to a state of 100% recovery. However it is very important to be just as disciplined with your diet during this period as you are whilst training.
Frequency of Training
Weight training twice in one day is always going to be too stressful for the body to get optimal results. When training with Max OT principles you should leave at least 24 hrs between weights sessions. However as cardio is less intensive you only need to leave 12 hrs between that and your next either weights or cardio training session. If you haven't realised yet, that means no cardio with your weights session. Doing cardio with weights will always take away from your body's ability recover and build muscle from weight training. However if you must do it then doing it after weights will reduce the impact on your muscle development.
Cardio sessions should be high intensity interval training limited to a time of about only 12-15 mins. This means for example using the stationary bike and doing 1 min at maximum intensity then 1 min slow, back to 1 min intense and so on until about 12-15 mins. It is guaranteed that after just 12 mins you will feel just as exercised as a typical 30-45 min cardio session. High intensity cardio sessions elevate the heart rate, stimulate natural testosterone production and put less catabolic stress on the body. On the other hand a long drawn out cardio session will raise cortisol (stress hormone) levels and have no benefit for muscle growth.
Maximising Weight Resistance During Training
In the gym you will often see people doing pyramid sets where they do their warm up sets and then start their working sets but slowly increase the weight they are lifting. Below are two examples of an exercise performed by two people of the exact same strength level and their results.
Don't Be This Guy
Bench Press warm up set: 60kg x 20
Bench Press working sets: 90kg x 15, 100kg x 10, 110kg x 6, 100kg x 10, 90kg x 15
According to Max OT this is simply lowering the maximum tension that you put your muscle under. In this example you will be wearing yourself out and your heaviest set will be lighter than what you could have lifted if you had warmed up properly.
Be This Guy
Bench Press warm up sets: 60kg x 12, 80kg x 6, 100kg x 3
Bench Press working sets: 120kg x6, 120kg x 4, 110kg x 6
In both examples the person will finish the exercise feeling a similar level of exertion but notice how much more weight the person is able to lift in the second example. This higher tension is what causes increased strength and muscle growth and is essentially the basis of Max OT. The purpose of a warm up is to get blood flowing and prepare the body for the high intensity sets, not to fatigue your muscles and lower the maximum tension on the muscle. Basically this means that all through your workout you should be lifting the heaviest weight possible that you can get 4-6 reps. Once you are able to get 7 reps on a weight, you know it is time to increase the weight.