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While there are a number of training techniques which can elicit muscle gains, none have proven to be as effective as maximum overload training. Although this method isn’t as popular these days as it was 10 to 15 years ago, this type of training makes use of pushing the maximum amount of weight possible within a rep range of 4 to 6 reps where the last rep is failure. Because of the insane stress placed on the body with maximum overload training, workouts duration is generally 30 to 40 minutes and is only done for 4 to 6 week cycles with a week or two ‘break’ in between. By ‘break’ I just mean one or two weeks of training at 60-80% of your 1RM with 8-10 reps instead of 80% plus with 4-6 reps like with maximum overload training. In short, maximum overload training is low reps and low volume with only a few key exercises.
When choosing exercises, it is best to always focus on exercises which allow you to shift the heaviest weight possible, which in most cases are generally compound movements. For example, it is better to do a barbell bench press than a flye or a barbell curl over a concentration curl. Make sure you are pushing to your max!
Another key element of maximum overload training is to keep training sessions short. Once you have warmed up, do no more than 3 working sets per exercise with a total of 2 to 3 exercises per body part. Also, make sure to only do 1 to 2 body parts per workout. By doing this, your workout should be completed within the allotted time of 30-40 minutes. The idea behind the short, intense workout duration is that anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone are optimally stimulated within this period and diminish if workouts continue any longer. Additionally, strength will also start to dwindle after this period which means you will no longer be pushing to the best of your ability.
Another golden rule for maximum overload training is that you continue to add the weight. It doesn’t help to continually push the same weights week in and week out, so make sure you try your best to progress on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
As you get stronger, instead of pushing out more reps with the same weight, rather up the weight and try to reach the 4-6 rep range.
In order to continually progress your strength levels, it is necessary to change your exercises up with every maximum overload training cycle. Performing the same routine over and over again tends to cause a plateau in your strength gains, and therefore in your size gains as well.
As I mentioned before, there are a number of ways to elicit muscle growth, and while studies have shown that 12 reps is ideally suited for hypertrophy, it doesn’t mean that this method is set in stone. This is mostly because every person’s body will react differently to various styles if training. Personally, this method works like a bomb for me. The only down side is that you will need a training partner for most days in the gym to help spot you with the incredible weight you will be pushing.
Remember, muscle gain is not a one-size-fits-all approach and when you do find a method that works well for you, it may only work for a certain period before you need to change things up and shock your body with a new style of training. My suggestion would be to try 2 cycles of maximum overload training to see if this method works for you!
|THE MAXIMUM OVERLOAD TRAINING RULES:|
|Perform 4–6 reps per set.|
|Only do 2-3 exercises per muscle group.|
|Only train 1-2 muscle groups per day.|
|Stick mostly to compound exercises.|
|Push every set to failure but not beyond.|
|Rest 2–3 minutes between sets.|
|Keep workouts under 40 minutes in duration.|
|Take a 1 week ‘break’ between training cycles.|
|Ensure adequate warm up sets before starting your working sets.|
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