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Thread: Top 5 Max Effort Mistakes

  1. #1
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    Top 5 Max Effort Mistakes

    source:http://www.congress.powerliftinguk.c...ffort_mistakes

    Top 5 Max Effort Mistakes

    Iím a big believer in max effort training, and I believe itís made a big difference in my training.

    By Jim Wendler

    For www.EliteFTS.com

    Weíve 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. Youíre 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, itís 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. Donít 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 canít gauge how strong theyíre getting or which lifts are working and which are not. A good rule of thumb is to have 3Ė4 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
    ∑ Two-board
    ∑ Three-board
    ∑ 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 (2Ė4Ē)

    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?
    Letís 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 1Ė2 weeks each. Do two cycles with a close grip. This will last 4Ė8 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, itís 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 donít 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.

    Journal: http://www.wannabebigforums.com/showthread.php?t=116786

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    I like this post, I think it will be benefitial to my training. Thanks for posting it.


    Max effort bench press
    ∑ Two-board
    ∑ Three-board
    ∑ 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 (2Ė4Ē)


    I'll be using this now, again, thanks!

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    Da Bears slashkills's Avatar
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    Great article! thanks for posting.

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    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    Good read. I made a lot of these mistakes the first time I tried westside style training.
    Stats: 11/15/07-First-meet--2nd Meet----3rd meet
    Weight: 185-----187---------198---------198
    Max Bench: 255---220-----------280------300
    Max Squat: 405----395----------440------460
    Max Dead:475-----485----------551------570
    CHINUPS - Bodyweight + 135, x1, dead hang. Still working on the one arm chinup.

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    Nice Post!
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    I'd rate #1 as doing ME lifts you're good at because it's fun and you lift more vs. doing ME movements you suck at that'll make you better. It's usually best to go with whatever you suck the most at doing.
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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    I don't agree with his first point about 3 lifts over 90%. The point of an ME day is to hit a PR for that time in your training. If you can do it without 3 sets or more at 90+% then that is fine.


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    IRL my name is Trent Hazerboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    I don't agree with his first point about 3 lifts over 90%. The point of an ME day is to hit a PR for that time in your training. If you can do it without 3 sets or more at 90+% then that is fine.
    I think it depends a lot on the lifter. When I first tried westside I was benching somewhere around 250 lbs, with a 240 floor press. Lets say I was working up to a 230 or 235 single on my first week, then hopefully 240 or 245 on my second. Thats really almost no volume at all -- I would do something like 95x5, 115x3, 155x1, 185x1, 205x1, 235x1. All the sets until 235 were really, really easy. I would always feel like I had loads more energy after my one "heavy" set. For someone with a 500 lb floor press, though, their warm ups sets will be something like 400x1, 450x1, 500x1 (at least, this is what I do for deadlifts, the only lift I can move that much weight anyways XD) the point is that last few sets will be pretty difficult even though they're still working up to their top weight.

    Travis told me to counteract this with more volume. He advised me to work up to something like 230x1 or 235x1, then if it felt good, take the same weight again. I think something like this was what the author was getting at, that a style like this might be more productive for someone whose not moving as much weight (like me).

    Either way, it seemed to work pretty well for me.
    Stats: 11/15/07-First-meet--2nd Meet----3rd meet
    Weight: 185-----187---------198---------198
    Max Bench: 255---220-----------280------300
    Max Squat: 405----395----------440------460
    Max Dead:475-----485----------551------570
    CHINUPS - Bodyweight + 135, x1, dead hang. Still working on the one arm chinup.

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    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    I know I often take big jumps with minimal reps in with my ME work. This is really not enough volume for training. I kind of missed the boat on this for years. I just wanted to hit a pr. While that is great, the work getting there is just as important. Afterall the goal is to get stronger and hit pr's in the meet. I am getting off the plate mentality to accomplish this. I am acutally using quarters, tens, and fives when I get up near my max. I always wondered what those plates were for.


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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vdizenzo View Post
    I know I often take big jumps with minimal reps in with my ME work. This is really not enough volume for training. I kind of missed the boat on this for years. I just wanted to hit a pr. While that is great, the work getting there is just as important. Afterall the goal is to get stronger and hit pr's in the meet. I am getting off the plate mentality to accomplish this. I am acutally using quarters, tens, and fives when I get up near my max. I always wondered what those plates were for.

    That's food for thought Vincent. With that said, what about protecting joints etc. When one gets as strong as you that has to be a concern. Too many heavy sets = excess wear and tear?


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    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Louie is pretty big on making sure you get enough training volume in. The idea isn't necessairly to only hit a PR, but to also train and get stronger. This is why I often have guys who have lower maxes and are hitting their PR weights very quickly, repeat the same weight over again, to make sure they get enough volume in

    Greg, Luke and I will usually go up a plate each side until we get to around 405 and then its quarters and dimes and 5's from there on out.

    Now at a meet, I take a really short warm up so I'm expending as little energy as possible. But the idea at a meet isn't to get stronger, but more to test your current strength.


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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    I don't agree with his first point about 3 lifts over 90%. The point of an ME day is to hit a PR for that time in your training. If you can do it without 3 sets or more at 90+% then that is fine.
    At one point in time I think you are right. However with the current trends of the more in shape and conditioned powerlifter, I think there needs to be more volume. Take a look at how Caslow, Frey and Kroc train - it's not all about the single anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    I don't agree with his first point about 3 lifts over 90%. The point of an ME day is to hit a PR for that time in your training. If you can do it without 3 sets or more at 90+% then that is fine.
    How about backing down after you hit a PR or max to hit a few extra reps and sets at 90%+. For instance if you get a PR on floor press of 405, you go back down to around 365 or 375 and get some doubles or singles in for the extra volume.
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    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    That's food for thought Vincent. With that said, what about protecting joints etc. When one gets as strong as you that has to be a concern. Too many heavy sets = excess wear and tear?
    That's where prehab and rehab come into play. As you know so much our gains are a result of what happens outside the gym.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete22 View Post
    How about backing down after you hit a PR or max to hit a few extra reps and sets at 90%+. For instance if you get a PR on floor press of 405, you go back down to around 365 or 375 and get some doubles or singles in for the extra volume.
    I actually like this option and the one in the article of doing 90%, 100% and then backing off and doing 95%. To be honest this is one of the best reads I've made for quite a while which is why I posted this article. The point about doing 3 sets above 90% was something I've not been doing because...well I didn't know to do it. I disagree with the 90%, 95% and then 100%. I personally think 95% is too close to your 1RM and will probably burn you out too soon. Of course it could be different for other people.
    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.

    Journal: http://www.wannabebigforums.com/showthread.php?t=116786

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    Man where to start........... OK I will just leave it alone............

    Fudge that! Like I have said i really don't use the ME DE stuff as a guideline.But I agree with Vincent missing the boat on volume. Volume has made a huge diference for me in my training and competition results. Since I train heavy all the time and then throw speed afterwards I try to increase the weight on my last 3 sets every week by atleast 5 lbs on all my heavy lifting. Doesn't matter if the sets are singles, doubles, or sets of five. My speed work I increase weight as my speed increases.

    I don't do single rep maxes to figure out where I am. I set a goal and reach it.

    As for Chris's concern about joints that does become an issue. However if you are prepaired for battle the issue should be mute. Ice Ice and more Ice is a must! Massage therapy and chiropractic care as needed. Proper nutrion and suppliments for recovery is a must as well. I would recomend MHP's Dark Matter for a recovery drink or Atlarge Nutrition ETS for recovery. I have had great success with both. I would also recomend a good joint formula. I use Releve by MHP and have used GLC 2000 in the past. And then make sure you get plenty of sleep.

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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Volume is all relative to the individual and anabolic state. For example, the clean lifter (on average) cannot tolerate or benefit from as much volume at a high intensity as the enhanced lifter.

    As for volume and progress, I think it also depends on the lift to some extent. For example, I have found that singles work best for my heavy deadlift work. I simply work up to a heavy single and try to set a PR each session. I will sometimes do sets of 2 or 3 reps, but that is about it. Now, for me, I have been able to build a pretty decent deadlift with my volume consisting of 1-2 sets above 90% in my heavy training. On a recent and productive run, I added a "light" day where I would work up to a set of 12-15 reps (close to failure) of bodybuilding style stiffs off a platform. This would be a single set.

    My point being that high volume is perhaps not necessary for strength training. I don't argue the point of active recovery and building work capacity, but I do know that it is not 100% necessary to build great strength. Perhaps it can help make one's limits even higher, I am not certain, but I think it may be so. It does, for me, create an interesting conundrum of exactly how much total work at varying intensities is optimal.


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    GFH Lones Green's Avatar
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    I think you are correct Chris, in saying that volume is not necessary for strength training.

    However, Travis prescribed me higher volume workouts on my bench (specifically on my dynamic day) and its done wonders for me. Sometimes after those workouts I'll even come home and pull the sled for 15 min or so. I'm natural but at 20 years old I'm sure my body has a decent amount of testosterone.
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  19. #19
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    You can still get volume in doing singles though. Lou always has us doing singles all the time, be it on bench or deadlift. You just make smaller jumps or repeat the same weight if need be. Total number of sets in is what Lou looks for. I've made leaps and bounds in my strength levels by increasing the volume of my workouts.

    I'm not even going to touch the anabolic issue LOL. I think too many people sell themselves short because they aren't using, but I realize that is just my personal opinion.


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  20. #20
    GFH Lones Green's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    You can still get volume in doing singles though. Lou always has us doing singles all the time, be it on bench or deadlift. You just make smaller jumps or repeat the same weight if need be. Total number of sets in is what Lou looks for. I've made leaps and bounds in my strength levels by increasing the volume of my workouts.

    I'm not even going to touch the anabolic issue LOL. I think too many people sell themselves short because they aren't using, but I realize that is just my personal opinion.
    Sure. I often do heavy doubles, triples, or singles after I hit a max single for that day. Thats a great way to get some volume in
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  21. #21
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Well, Dough Hepburn was by all accounts natural and he definitely did high volume using 1-3 rep sets. If I remember correctly, he would do 8-10 sets of a given exercise for 1-3 rep sets. So, he definitely subscribed to the high volume with heavy weights camp.

    Travis, I agree with you, but it is definitely a balancing act.


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    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    Travis, I agree with you, but it is definitely a balancing act.
    haha, I was speaking generally, just to clarify.

    I know what your deadlift training looks like and you are not one who sells themself short


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