The foundation of most bodybuilding systems: get stronger and get bigger. There questions about this topic are: how heavy, how many, how long, how intense, which exercises? For Max-OT the answers are: maximum, four to six, 30–40, failure, basic. Get in the gym, stimulate growth with a heavy and brief assault, and a half-hour or so later you’re out the door. Max-OT has carved out its own unique niche somewhere between power bodybuilding and high intensity. It’s a philosophy of lower reps, lower volume, and short workouts. You don’t hear as much about it as you did a decade ago, but it remains a valuable philosophy. In fact, Max-OT may just be the right system for you to maximize gains.
Maximum Overload Training, better known as Max-OT, was developed by Paul Delia, and it rose to prominence when its two greatest proponents, Skip LaCour and Jeff Willet, won the NPC/IFBB Team Universe in 2002 (LaCour) and 2003 (Willet). The two words most associated with Max-OT are heavy and brief. Working sets for everything but abs consist of only four to six reps. This boosts intensity, as it’s easier to focus on every rep when you do fewer of them. Select a weight with which you’ll hit failure at no more than six reps, and choose mostly exercises that allow you to hoist the heaviest weights. For example, barbell curls are better than concentration curls, because you can move more metal and thus better overload the biceps.
So all sets are heavy. The other key component of Max-OT is its brevity. Do no more than three sets per exercise, only six to nine sets per body part, and ideally train only one body part per workout and no more than two. This creates workouts that last only 30-40 minutes. Intense training stimulates growth-promoting hormones, but these decrease after about 40 minutes. Brief workouts stay within your “anabolic window.” Furthermore, you have limited stores of strength and intensity, and by keeping your training time short, you’re able to bring your best to each set.
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