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Thread: Top 5 Max Effort Mistakes

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    Top 5 Max Effort Mistakes


    Top 5 Max Effort Mistakes

    Im a big believer in max effort training, and I believe its made a big difference in my training.

    By Jim Wendler


    Weve talked a lot about how beneficial max effort training is if you want to become strong. However, mistakes can hinder your progress. Here are the top five max efforts mistakes.
    Not enough volume
    When doing max effort, most people are so paranoid about not hitting a record that they forget that max effort is about training, not about testing. Because of this, the number of heavier sets (in this case 90 percent and up) is usually very limited, usually to only one or two sets at or above 90 percent. However, I have found that most people need to get at least three lifts at or above this. This can be done several ways.

    One way is something like this:
    1x5 @ 50%
    1x3 @ 60%
    1x2 @ 70%
    1x1 @ 80%
    1x1 @ 90%
    1x1 @ 95%
    1x1 @ 100%
    Here is another variation:
    1x5 @ 50%
    1x3 @ 60%
    1x2 @ 70%
    1x1 @ 80%
    1x1 @ 90%
    1x1 @ 100 %
    1x1 @ 90-95%
    And finally, here is another:
    1x5 @ 50%
    1x3 @ 60%
    1x2 @ 70%
    1x1 @ 80%
    1x1 @ 90%
    1x1 @ 90%
    1x1 @ 90%

    There are a lot of possibilities and different ways to achieve the goal. However you do it, make sure that you get at least three lifts above 90 percent.

    Awful form
    On many max effort lifts, your form is going to be a little messed up. Youre going to be straining and squirming, and many times your body is going to be contorted into positions that are better suited for circus freaks. I have seen it, and I have done it. Now, there is a difference between having form that is ok and form that is dangerous. If you feel that your form has deteriorated to the point that you may get hurt, its time to shut down, or take some weight off the bar. Nothing gets accomplished with bad form, and nothing gets accomplished when you are hurt.

    You can either film yourself, or let your training partners monitor you. If you are a veteran lifter, you will know when your form breaks down. This is when you have to be smart and listen. Dont let your ego get in the way.

    Too much variety
    In the age of boards, boxes, bands, chains, and floor presses, there seems to be an endless amount of options for lifts. This is a welcome relief to many people who have been doing the same workout and the same exercises for years. Unfortunately, this variety can also be detrimental. With so much variety, most people cant gauge how strong theyre getting or which lifts are working and which are not. A good rule of thumb is to have 34 max effort lifts for the bench press, three for the squat, and three for the deadlift. Stick with these exercises for at least four months, and then see how you are doing.

    Here are some ideas:
    Max effort bench press
    Floor press
    Incline press
    Max effort squat
    Safety squat bar box squat
    Cambered bar box squat
    Buffalo bar box squat
    Max effort deadlift
    Reverse band deadlift
    Rack deadlift
    Deadlifts off elevated platform (24)

    No grip variation
    When I first started doing max effort work for my bench press, all of it was done with a close grip (index finger just outside the smooth part of the knurling). I made progress, but stalled out after about a year. Needing a change, I widened my grip, and my lifts went up. Now, this is not a rallying cry for everyone to widen their grip. But I think that too many people stick with one grip on each bench press variation and rarely change.

    So how do you do this?
    Lets say that you use the four max effort exercises for the bench press listed above (floor press, incline press, two-board, and three-board). Each exercise is done for 12 weeks each. Do two cycles with a close grip. This will last 48 weeks depending on how long you stay with an exercise. After this period, perform the same exercises, but use a wider grip. This will allow you to set and attempt to break records for each lift with each grip.

    Not recording your progress
    Unless you have a great memory, its almost impossible to remember all of your max effort records. This becomes especially difficult if you use chains/bands on some lifts. And why waste mental energy on something that you can easily document? One of the best ways to monitor your progress is to use a grease board. List your max effort lifts on one side and your records on another. Only list the max effort exercises that are used most often to prevent your record board from getting too cluttered.
    By keeping accurate records of your max effort progress, you can have something to shoot for on every max effort workout. This will also allow you to see your progress and either make changes or keep forging forward with your training.

    If you dont have the opportunity to use a grease board, a simple spiral notebook will do.
    Last edited by AJ_H; 05-14-2009 at 02:54 PM.
    Stats: Bodyweight : Current= 150 lbs, Height = 5ft11.5

    Bench Press:160 lbs/Squat:225 lbs,/Deadlift:305/Total:675lbs/

    Not strong yet, but getting there.


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