Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What is Max-OT and why is it best for changing body composition?

Max-OT stands for Maximum Overload Training and is based on the physiological principle that overloading a muscle with heavy resistance creates the best stimulus for growth. The Max-OT principles were created by Paul Delia, CEO of AST Sports Science and are the principles I’ve followed exclusively since 1998. Paul was a very valuable mentor and I model a lot of my teaching after things I learned from him.

Max-OT is a low volume, high intensity approach to weight training that will maximize muscle and strength gains. Remember, this is very important to anyone interested in fat loss because every ounce of muscle you can build you are going to raise your resting metabolic rate and make fat loss easier. Plus, if you can build muscle you will achieve a more shapely/toned body when all is said and done.

When I speak about volume I am talking about the total number of sets and reps you are going to perform in any given workout. Most programs advise way too many sets and reps in my opinion, particularly those programs that are supposed to be designed specifically for “toning”.

I often hear people say they don’t want to lift heavy because they don’t want to get too bulky or they will point to one of my contest photos and say "I don’t want to get that big"; they just want to tone up. They make it sound as if the moment they start lifting any weights they’ll add gobs of muscle over night. Before I yell at them, I remind myself it is not their fault they have this fear of lifting heavy. It’s because that is what has been ingrained in their heads. We all hear it all the time….light weight and high reps for muscle tone and heavy weight with low reps for bulk (BTW - I hate the term bulk. To me that is another way of saying fat because adding quality muscle will never make anyone look “bulky”. A so called “bulky” look comes from too much body fat). Every time I hear the talk about light weights for muscle tone I want to scream because that is just not accurate and leads people to mediocre results.

You don’t need to lose any sleep over building too much muscle. Building muscle is very low on the physiological totem pull. You need to do a lot of things right with your weight training and diet to build muscle and not only that, you have to do these things day in and day out for a long, long time. Even then you might not build appreciable amounts of muscle depending on your body type. It is doubly hard for women right out of the gate because they don’t have the hormonal support to build muscle easily on top of everything else.

Take most drug free bodybuilders for example. They work their tails off for years doing everything geared towards building muscle from a diet, training and supplement standpoint just to add a few inches of circumference to their muscles. What makes the average person think they are going to start working out and become the Incredible Hulk over night? It just isn’t going to happen so stop listening to all that nonsense and start grabbing heavier weights.

Lifting heavy weights is not going to make you huge but it is going to set you up to build muscle way more efficiently than high rep training. The reason is because overloading the muscle with a heavy weight will create the best stimulus for the muscle to grow and become stronger. This is not my opinion, this is physiology talking. And let’s remember that is the whole purpose behind lifting weights to begin with is to build muscle and strength. (More muscle = higher resting metabolic rate and a more shapely body when you lose the fat with smart diet and cardiovascular exercise.)

I believe Max-OT is the best way to train to maximize results based on what physiology tells us and also based on my own 20 year real world study with myself as the primary test subject. Plus there are countless success stories of men and women all over the globe who've really changed their bodies by executing this style of training.

If you’ve seen our documentary “I Want to Look Like That Guy” it illustrates this point perfectly. In the documentary, Stuart MacDonald (Pictured Above) was the test subject and he followed Max-OT training for a 6 month period while also following the Max-OT cardio principles as well as a very strict and carefully calculated nutritional plan. In those 6 months his results were astounding and you can watch it happening right in front of your eyes during the film. He went from over 30% body fat to under 6% body fat and lost over 50lbs. All this by continuing to lift heavy weights throughout. If you follow the logic that heavy weights build bulk and light weights get you toned and trim then how do you explain Stuart’s outstanding results?

Keeping the weights heavy with Max-OT style training kept Stuart in a state where he was building and at the very minimum maintaining muscle throughout his strict diet and intense cardiovascular exercise. I guarantee you that if Stuart followed the “normal” guru advice and did a lot of high rep, high volume workouts with long duration cardio he would have never achieved the results he did. He may have been able to lose 50lbs or even more but his physique and body composition would not have been as incredible as there were at the end of the film. Why? Because he continued to have a muscle building emphasis with his weight training by using the Max-OT principles.

I've said it many times before and I will say it again. There are many different training philosophies and you can workout a variety of ways and achieve results. Some programs might work more on your athleticism, some on your agility and some on your flexibility, however, if your primary goal is to change your body composition then I firmly believe Max-OT is the best. To really change your body composition you must have a strong muscle building component to your plan and that is exactly what Max-OT will give you.

Believe. Achieve.



  1. Thanks Jeff - that was very insightful. Do you have any strategies/advice on how to overcome plateaus? Regardless of building muscle or fat loss, we all hit them and that's when it's tempting to throw in the towel or accept mediocrity. How do the pros do it?

    Kind Regards, Shanx.

  2. I use visualization and positive affirmations to keep moving forward to the best of my abilities each day. Interestingly enough my new book that will be released next week addresses a lot of the mental side of training.

  3. G'day Jeff,
    Does the MAX OT principles change when leaning up for comp?

    (Bec's partner)

  4. Max-OT principles don't change as you lead up to a contest. Weight training approach should be the same year around.

  5. Where Stu's routines the exact same as the one on AST's website. Thats the one I started. I just dont like how it keeps changing every two weeks until you get to the routine that is 3 days long, 1 day off, then start over again. Im on week 3 of the 12 week program. Do I start the cardio and diet one when I start the 6 month program. And how can I find out exactly what I should eat everyday like you did with STU. Icant figure out how to make the diet, but if told what to eat I can follow it. I want to do like Stu did and use Max-OT to enter into my first contest here in Florida.

  6. merci jeff pour les information
    I did the max ot programme it is effective