Well, you’ve made it through the first week. That’s an excellent sign. There is much more to come. As the weeks progress, we are going to get deep into the nitty-gritty and formulate a master Max-OT plan of attack that you will be able to implement from here forward and build muscle fast.
The first lesson produced a lot of feedback from everyone. This is good. I want everyone to get very involved and learn as much as possible. It’s important to understand that this is a 12-week course and many of your immediate questions will get answered as things progress.
I am also setting up a Max-OT Question and Answer Page that will answer all relevant questions that I am getting concerning Max-OT. This way everyone is able to view the different questions everyone is submitting and the answers to them. This will be much more efficient and will undoubtedly answer questions that many will have but just not think to ask. This Q&A page will expand as the weeks go by and I’m sure you’ll find it very helpful.
This week I am going to explain the importance of warming up properly – the Max-OT way – and also talk about one of the most often used training mistakes – the burnout set.
Now we are not just talking about warming up so you won’t injure yourself. That is only part of it. Just about every training program I have ever seen is wrong. And one of the main areas that these programs fail is the improper approach to warming up. I’m going to show you a way to warm-up that will make you stronger the very first day you implement it.
Warming up the Max-OT Way
I want you to remember the following. Max-OT is all about building muscle. Max-OT takes the approach that every rep, every set, and every workout is done for one reason – to build muscle and strength. This is very important. If you do a rep, set, or entire workout with weights for any other reason then you need to seriously question just why you are training in the first place.
Any time you wrap your hands around a bar and start a set it should be approached with the mindset of building muscle and strength. You should be able to quantify why you do each rep. What other physiological reason is there for lifting weights? So every time you do a rep you know that rep is either directly involved in building muscle or is a necessary prerequisite to the muscle-building reps.
How most lifters fail to take the right approach from the very start
Efficiency is one of the main attributes of Max-OT training. The more efficient you train the more effective your workout is going to be, the more muscle you are going to build, and the quicker you are going to build that muscle.
Why expend precious energy without using maximum efficiency? Warming-up properly is an area of training that should be performed with the utmost efficiency because it is the prelude to building muscle.
Warming up improperly will impede your ability to maximize muscle overload, total muscle fiber stimulation, and growth
Warming up correctly will allow you to expend the maximum physical and mental intensity on the sets that count the most – the muscle-building sets.
Warming Up The Wrong Way
Are You Guilty?
I would say that 99% of the people who train warm-up wrong. And in doing so, it reduces their ability to produce maximum overload for maximum growth. Again, as I discussed in the last section, this incorrect technique has been and continues to be passed along from gym to gym, coach to athlete, magazine to subscriber, etc., etc. It’s like a weed you can’t get rid of.
A somewhat unfortunate thing about building muscle is that there is no definite “right” or “wrong” way to go about it. What I mean is, you can train wrong and still build muscle. Max-OT is about building maximum muscle and strength in the shortest amount of time. Max-OT extracts all the physiological understanding of what stimulates muscle growth and wraps it all up into a systematic, step-by-step plan that will maximize the muscle growth parameters and eliminate the regression caused by typical training programs.
How NOT to warm-up
Let’s use the Bench Press as an example here. For sake of description, we’ll say that 275 is the maximum for 3 reps. Here is how most people do a bench workout.
They load the bar with 135 pounds and do about 10 or 15 reps. They’ll rest a few minutes and then go to 185 pounds. Here they do another 10 reps. Then they go to 205 pounds and do about 10 reps. After a little rest, they go to 225 pounds and do 7 or 8 reps depending on how good they feel.
So far that is 4 sets. Now throw on 20 pounds to 245 and do about 7 reps. That’s set number 6 and they haven’t even started to build muscle yet. From here they take the 10’s off and put on some 25’s. At 275 pounds they barely knock out 3 reps.
Can you point out the mistakes here? They warmed up. No question about that, but they did so at the expense of strength and overload. In other words, their technique for warming up resulted in poor or inadequate muscle fiber stimulation and overload due to premature muscle fatigue.
Warming up is Warming up
Understand that warming-up is nothing more than “warming-up”. What this means is that you should warm-up the muscle group you are training in a fashion that will allow you to infuse the right amount of blood into the muscle and connective tissue and progressively introduce the increasing overload to this muscle group. This warm-up process should not fatigue the muscle. I repeat, the warm-up process should not fatigue the muscle. If you generate any muscle fatigue whatsoever during your warm-up sets you will compromise muscle overload and growth.
Proper Max-OT warm-up techniques introduce blood into the muscle group, progressively acclimate the muscle and soft tissue to the heavy weight and does not fatigue the muscle
A fatigued muscle is a weak muscle. A muscle not “ready” for heavy weight is an injury-prone muscle. The key is to warm-up the muscle being trained so it can handle maximum overload without injury, while at the same time not fatiguing the muscle in the process.
I am going to show you how to implement a technique into your training that will provide immediate results in the amount of weight you use. Remember, muscle growth is dictated by overload. The greater the overload placed on a muscle, the greater the growth response from that muscle.
We are going to take the same weight scenario on the Bench Press as used before, but we’ll use the Max-OT warm-up technique. This technique will allow you to lift more weight for more overload and more growth.
Understand that the only sets that actually induce muscle growth are the heavy sets – the sets using maximum weight for 4 to 6 reps. All other sets besides these will not produce the overload needed to induce growth. These sets are merely preludes to the muscle-building sets. With this known, now you can see why it’s critical to intelligently warm-up so you can maximize the growth-producing sets.
Warming up the Right Way
Here we are going to take the Bench Press and show you a proper warm-up technique that will allow you to lift more weight on your heavy sets. Remember, more weight – more overload – more muscle.
Again we’ll use 275 as your heavy weight. If you typically warm-up and train like I pointed out earlier the 275 will feel a lot lighter this time.
- First Set:
135 x 12 reps (warm-up) These should be good smooth reps. Not too slow and not too fast. Your main goal is to increase blood flow and get the feel of the movement and the weight. After this first set, you should rest for about 2 minutes.
- Second Set:
135 x 10 reps (warm-up) Same weight as before. The rhythm should be a little faster this time. Not much faster. Rest for about 2 minutes.
- Third Set:
185 x 6 reps (warm-up) This should be a deliberate set done at a moderate pace. This is the next step in weight acclimation. It should feel light and 4 reps should be very easy. Rest about 2 to 3 minutes before the next set.
- Fourth Set:
225 x 3 reps (weight acclimation) You should follow the same rhythm as in the last set. 3 strong reps. Rest 2 minutes before the next set.
- Fifth Set:
255 x 1 rep (weight acclimation) That’s right, just 1 rep. The purpose here is weight acclimation. This should be a strong, powerful, and deliberate rep.
- Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Sets:
285 x 4 to 6 reps (muscle-building) These are the muscle-building sets. Very important. These are the only sets that produce muscle growth. All the sets leading up to these heavy sets are merely warm-up sets and are treated as just that and nothing more.
Notice we went to 285 instead of 275. Warming up the Max-OT allows you to use heavier weight during the most important muscle-building sets.
Eliminating and Avoiding Unnecessary Sets
Anytime you do a set it should be performed for a defined purpose. In essence, there are only three types of sets – warm-up sets, weight acclimation sets, and muscle-building sets. There is no in-between. No other set should exist and from the standpoint of building muscle, no other set does exist. Each set you do should be clearly defined and fall into one of these 3 categories.
Think about your typical workout. How many sets do you do that have no clear definition? You know the sets that fall somewhere between a warm-up set, a weight acclimation set, and a muscle-building set. These sets should be eliminated and a structured Max-OT workout does just that.
A set that is neither a warm-up set, a weight acclimation set, or a muscle-building set does nothing for muscle growth.
In fact, these undefined sets rob the muscle of maximum growth by inducing fatigue. Fatigue is muscle growth’s worst enemy.
Here is an example of unnecessary sets typically done during most non-Max-OT workouts
Let’s say you just finished your Flat Bench Press routine. Now it’s time to move over to Incline Bench Press. Most people will follow another inefficient warm-up routine for Incline Bench Press as they did on their Flat Bench Press routine. Why? Your chest muscles are certainly warm and able to handle the maximum weight. Why would you go through the entire warm-up scenario again when you’re training essentially the same muscle?
Think about the training you have done in the past and add up all the unnecessary sets you do in a typical routine. Imagine how much this has robbed you of muscle growth.
Unnecessary Sets Continued…
Wasted warm-up sets apply to every muscle group being trained. There is no need for repetitive warm-up sets for the same muscle group within different exercises. This only adds further fatigue and depletes muscle energy substrates that ultimately rob your muscle’s ability to handle the maximum overload.
“Do Not” Specifics:
1. Do not pyramid unnecessarily. One of the worst training methods ever introduced is pyramid training. This is where you start out light and then add small increments of weight with each set – going to failure each set until you get to your heaviest set. After the heavy set, you then lighten the weight just opposite to how you increased it on the way up. Then you complete reps to failure for each set on the way down. As I said, this is probably the least efficient way possible to build muscle yet it is the most common training approach used today. So if you are training this way the first thing you should ask yourself is – Why do I do this? When you structure your sets like this, for whatever muscle group you are training, you deprive them of not only the overload they are capable of, but also the overload needed to induce efficient muscle growth.
2. Never go to failure on a warm-up set. This is the ultimate training sin. Never, ever, ever, ever, go to failure with a warm-up set. This is the perfect way to sabotage a workout and stop muscle growth dead in its tracks.
3. Do not warm-up the same muscle group twice. Never re-warm a muscle group just because you have proceeded to a different exercise. Examples: There is no need to warm-up on the Leg Press after a squat routine. There is no need to start out light on Barbell Curls after finishing Dumbbell Curls. Likewise, there is no need to start out light on Cable Rows after Barbell Rows.
It’s very important to never do unnecessary reps, sets, or exercises when trying to build muscle. This is why warming up properly is so critical. In Max-OT training, the heavy sets for 4 to 6 reps is where everything happens. All sets preceding these heavy sets are just performed to get the muscle groups ready for the 4 to 6 rep sets.
Doing any proceeding sets in a manner that will impede in any way the execution of the heavy sets will be counter-productive to building muscle. It’s imperative that you understand the difference between the three different types of sets in Max-OT training.
Weight Acclimation Sets
Just what is a weight acclimation set? Weight acclimation sets are a form of warm-up sets that are done to allow your muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments to become accustomed to the increasing weight overload.
A warm-up set pumps blood into the muscle and surrounding and supporting soft tissue. This enhances the flexibility and elasticity of the muscle. A weight acclimation set is performed to progressively introduce the increasing overload to the muscle, joints, and supporting soft tissue in preparation for the high-intensity, heavy sets.
Weight acclimation sets are very important in preventing injury. These sets condition the muscle and soft tissue for the upcoming heavy sets. Neither warm-up sets nor weight acclimation sets build muscle, but they are integral to building muscle by preparing the muscle and supporting soft tissue for the heavy weight.
Because warm-up sets and weight acclimation sets don’t build muscle, they must be done in a manner that does not impede, but enhances the muscle-building sets. This is the essence of weight acclimation.
Weight acclimation sets allow your muscles to “prepare” for upcoming heavy sets without fatiguing the muscle being worked. Proper warm-up techniques utilizing weight acclimation sets will enhance your muscle’s ability to maximize nerve-muscle contraction and lift heavier weights for maximum overload generation.
Max-OT “Set-Synergy” – to Build Muscle
As you can tell by now, Max-OT incorporates a strategy that encompasses total synergy between the different types of sets all leading to the ultimate heavy, muscle-building – 4 to 6 rep sets. It is the 4 to 6 rep sets that are responsible for inducing muscle growth and strength, but without proper techniques in the warm-up and acclimation sets, maximum weight and intensity can’t be used during the heavy sets.
The importance of warming up correctly can’t be overstated. It’s essential in staying injury-free and critical to your performance during the muscle-building sets. Understanding why you do each specific set that you do will shed light on the overall science behind Max-OT.
Remember, in Max-OT the only sets that build muscle are the 4-6 rep sets. All other sets are done in preparation for these sets. These prior sets are designed to promote maximum muscular energy and strength with minimal risk of injury. This way the muscle-building sets can be performed with maximum overload and maximum mental and physical intensity.
Muscle Burn – Muscle Pump
I want to talk about another grossly mistaken fallacy in weight training and building muscle. You often hear people screaming at their training partners in the gym things like “Come on, make it burn.”, “No pain, no gain.”, “Give me another rep!” and other silly gym lingoes that make them feel as if they are training with ultimate intensity. And don’t get me wrong, some train quite hard and these outbursts seem to help them with their intensity. What I’m leading to are training myths that have become accepted as muscle-building indicators.
The burning sensation that certain types of training bring on is believed by most to be a sign of a successful growth-promoting workout. Many seek it out and strive to achieve this burning sensation as an indicator of a good workout.
Well, let me tell you, that muscle “burn” is not an indicator of an optimum workout. This burn is caused by the infusion of lactic acid. Lactic acid is a byproduct of glycogen metabolism in muscle tissue. Lactic acid is not good for muscle growth. In fact, it impairs growth. Where does this burning sensation come from? It comes from lactic acid due to high reps. Not only does high rep training supply insufficient overload for growth it also causes high muscle lactic acid levels that lead to tissue catabolism, oxidative stress, and delayed muscle recovery.
The muscle pump you feel when training is a result of blood actually being “trapped” in the muscles being worked. The muscle pump is certainly a good psychological boost during training and accompanies just about all resistance exercise. And as your muscles become larger so will the pump you get while you train. Now while this muscle pump is not really a bad thing, it is not necessarily an indicator of optimum muscle overload. As you progress in your development you will find that achieving a noticeable pump even during your warm-up sets to be much easier and more prominent. More muscle – more “trapped” blood – bigger pump.
Muscle overload is what you are after. The entire concept behind Max-OT is to tap into the underlying physiological adaptation processes that stimulate muscle growth. Overload is the stimulus that induces a muscle to grow. Muscle “burn” does not stimulate growth. Muscle “pump” does not stimulate muscle growth. Overload stimulates growth.
Once into adulthood, muscle growth is not a natural process. It has to be ignited through overload adaptation. In order for a muscle to grow, it must have a reason. From a pure training standpoint, muscle overload is the only stimulus that can generate muscle growth. The greater the overload, the greater the need for the muscle to adapt. A muscle adapts to overload by growing in size and strength.
As you are well aware, Max-OT is centered completely around achieving progressively increasing muscular overload at every workout. In fact, each time you train you should attempt to increase the overload from the previous training session. If this is not attempted there will be no need for the muscles being trained to adapt and grow.
Max-OT always seeks to force the muscle to grow. Progressive increases in overload and intensity are what are required for muscle growth.
This leads me to the final subject in this week’s lesson – Muscle Memory.
A common training mistake that I see people doing all the time and even promoted through other training programs is the “burnout” set.
This is usually the last set in an exercise that consists of a lighter weight done with high reps to failure. This my friends is very counter-productive to muscle growth from several standpoints and should never be performed.
To get a better understanding as to why you should never do this “burnout” set you must ask yourself why you are doing it in the first place. I’ve heard answers like, “To feel the burn.”, “To stimulate every last muscle fiber.”, “To get the burn and the pump.”, “To finish off the exercise.” to name a few. As you can see all these explanations either make no sense, have no reasoning behind them, or go against the physiological pathways of muscle growth.
Here is an area that little formal research has been done, but enough has been completed to clearly indicate where “muscle memory” plays a prominent role in final overload adaptation, muscle growth, and muscle strength as a result of overload. There is even evidence that this muscle memory is exercise specific.
What this tells me, and is confirmed in the gym, is that your muscles have a “memory-like” effect that dictates the growth resulting from a workout. Strength appears to be even more prominently affected by this “muscle memory.”
Your muscles appear to have a memory effect that is significantly influenced by the last set that you do
If you finish each set with a heavy 4 to 6 rep exercise your muscles remember this and adapt accordingly. This memory effect is an important physiological phenomenon and should be used to your advantage in gaining strength and muscle size. And conversely, this memory effect should be manipulated so it will not impede the muscle growth process.
Muscle Memory Continued…
This muscle memory phenomenon is another reason, and probably the most important, to never do a high rep set as the last set in an exercise or a workout. That last thing you want is for this muscle memory to be linked to a light, high rep set.
Once you start following Max-OT you’ll quickly notice the muscle memory effect. Using this knowledge to your advantage and following the structured Max-OT workout plans, it will become very evident how potent this muscle-building, muscle memory effect can be.
This memory effect is an integrated part of Max-OT and is used to tie one workout to the next. By taking advantage of the Max-OT techniques – from warming up to your final set – you will be able to harness and maximize the physiological processes that occur to magnify the adaptation in the form of maximum muscle growth as a result.
This week I want you to use the warm-up procedure we covered here. Your workout this week is the same as in Week-1.
I’ve covered some very important points to Max-OT training. It’s important to understand that each aspect of Max-OT is critical and dependant upon every other aspect. Max-OT is a complete and efficient way to train and build muscle and strength. It’s not a program where you just implement the parts and pieces that fit your current style or likes. It’s a complete mental and physical approach to build muscle that incorporates the science of muscle physiology as well as ultra-high mental intensity.
I want you to read and re-read this section so you will have a full understanding of these techniques and theories. This course is designed so that you will have plenty of time to digest the weekly information and incorporate the techniques as you learn them. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of following this information exactly as it is presented.
Don’t forget the Max-OT Q&A section. I encourage you to send in your questions as this will turn into and quite a knowledge base of Max-OT training information.