Effective Training: Make Every Rep Count
I am going to tell you why I believe that make every rep count training (MTC) is superior to other forms of training. I will do it from a practical point of view. From an academic point of view, because I have been studying this topic for years now.
Let’s start with the practical side first!
The Problem With Other Forms Of Training
There are many different types of strength training programs out there today. Some are very good, some not so much. There are even some that are pretty bad.
However, they all share one thing in common: They don’t work.
If you want to get stronger, then you need to train like a bodybuilder or powerlifter. If you want to get bigger, then you need to train like a strongman or weightlifter. If you want to improve your athletic performance, then you need to train like a sprinter or marathon runner.
However, if you’re just starting out in the world of fitness and strength training, what do you do?
You follow some program that promises to give you results quickly without any effort at all.
But how do these programs actually work? What makes them better than others? And most importantly – How can I use them myself?
Most of them are based on simple principles that have been around for decades now. For example, let’s take Bulgarian Method which is one of the most popular and trendy programs out there at the moment. The reason why it works is actually very simple: It has you perform a exercise to failure.
Huh? What does that mean exactly?
Well, let’s say you’re doing barbell bench presses. You would perform the exercise until your strength fails and you are unable to complete another rep. That’s it.
If you want to build muscle or improve performance, you simply increase the weight and try to reach failure again. And that’s exactly what makes it so effective.
There are lots of other programs out there which are based on the same principle. The most common one however is super-sets. Instead of having a rest period for your muscles, you would perform 2 exercises back to back and not stopping until all sets are completed.
Why These Types Of Programs Don’t Work Well
While these types of programs do lead to results, they also have some very serious issues that aren’t immediately noticeable. By the way, if you’re using a program like this right now, you should probably stop it immediately. You will not reach your goals by using this type of training.
The first problem with these types of programs is that the focus on failure and that they cause pain. Now, I’m not saying that lifting a heavy weight doesn’t involve pain as well. But this pain comes in a form of discomfort, which leads to growth.
Now I’m talking about real pain here.
The main reason why pain is bad, is because it can lead to injuries. And injuries not only halt or severely slow down your progress, but they also prevent you from training altogether in most cases. This leads us to the next and even more serious problem with these types of programs.
If you use this style of training on a regular basis, you will get used to the pain. Now this might not sound like a big deal to begin with, but it seriously cripples your long-term progress in terms of strength and muscle growth.
Believe it or not, but your body is capable of a lot more than you think. If you only use light weights to warm up and then go to failure, you will never tap into that potential. At best you will plateau after a few months and at worst you will hurt yourself.
If you’re female, then this method might even work against you. This is due to most women having less testosterone than men and as a result are generally more prone to muscle and strength gains.
Training For The Long-Term
So what’s the alternative?
Well the answer is pretty simple really – You have to learn how to train for the long-term. And if you want some shortcuts, then you’re in the wrong place my friend.
Instead of having a program based on failure, you will have a program that increases your strength and endurance gradually over time.
The main focus here is volume and time. How much you can do and how long you can do it. Now I’m not talking about doing endless sets of Bench Presses until you collapse on the floor.
That’s not what this is about.
Instead, you will have to incorporate several variables into your training. These variables include: weight, sets, reps, exercises, rest time and frequency.
Now some of you might be thinking “I already do all that!” And you might be right, but the key point here is that you have to do it right. Otherwise you’ll be training for failure like everyone else and completely neglecting all other important training variables.
Trust me; there is a correct and incorrect way of doing every single one of these. If you’re doing something wrong, then you will fail to achieve your goals, no matter what they are.
Let’s begin with Weight.
In this case, weight refers to how heavy the bar is. Which means this section is going to be all about the Big 3: The Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press. You can also throw in the Oly Lift variations such as the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.
Now I know some of you are probably thinking that exercises like the Dumbbell Press or Pendlay Rows are also important. And while this is partially true, there’s no point in doing them if you can’t even perform the Big 3 with proper form.
This might sound hard, but it really isn’t. If you’re a beginner, then you don’t need to add a lot of weight to these lifts. In fact, if you try to rush it, then you’re only going to get frustrated.
There is no hurry. Trust me; you WILL get stronger as long as you focus on proper form and don’t overdo things.
That being said, I also don’t want you to hold yourself back with ridiculous weights either. Try to find a nice balance between challenging yourself and not overdoing it. A good rule of thumb here is to increase the weight every time you do a particular workout.
If you’re an advanced lifter, then this is going to be easy for you. All I need you to do is continue doing what you’re doing with one exception; I need you to focus on increasing your volume. You’re already strong; now it’s time to see how much endurance you have.
The next section is Sets. In this case, sets refer to the number of times you perform a particular exercise. There are many schools of thought on this topic, but I’m only going to list the three that matter and why.
The first one is the Bulgarian method. The Bulgarians have been long known for their prowess in athletics especially in weightlifting. Their training is very basic; they do a lot of it and that’s it.
There’s no fancy equipment or machinery, just weights and a field.
The main focus is on doing a lot of sets per body part. For example, one of their programs has you doing 300 sets of squats every week.
Sounds crazy right?
But it works for them. You don’t need that much, especially if your focus is on strength and power rather than overall athleticism.
Another method is German Volume Training or GVT . Created by the Germans, this program involves a lot of sets per body part as well.
However, the sets are much higher and you take short rest periods in between. This is great for building muscle endurance and works quite well in conjunction with strength training. The downside is it can be too much for some people and they often give up after the first week since they’re so sore and tired.
The final method is my own creation, Maximum Overload Training or M.O.T .
This is for the more advanced lifters out there who truly want to push themselves. The basic idea of this training is to take traditional strength methods and scale them up so that you’re doing a lot more volume than normal.
For example, let’s say you’re supposed to Deadlift three sets of five reps. On your first set, you would try to do eight reps. Then on your second set, you would try to reach ten reps.
Finally, on your last set you try to reach twelve reps.
This may seem too simple to work, but it’s designed to overload your muscles in a way that traditional training doesn’t. The next week you drop the weight back down so that you’re starting at a proper baseline again. Over time, your muscles grow to handle the Maximum Overload sets and reps by getting stronger than normal.
This is how Maximum Overload Training works and why it’s called that.
Naturally, the number of reps you do in each set is going to vary depending on the exercise. For example, you might do Maximum Overload sets of six reps on the bench press and eight reps on the squat.
Naturally, the number of sets you do is going to change as well in accordance to the number of reps. Naturally, the heavier the weight, the lower the reps will be and vise versa.
One thing you should note is that you shouldn’t try to reach your Maximum Overload immediately. Start low and work your way up as the weeks go by. A good rule of thumb is to add one additional rep every other week so that you’re constantly challenging your body but not overdoing it.
In addition, I highly recommend that you don’t take too much time between sets. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t be resting more than 90 seconds or more in between sets. Doing so will only cause your strength to decline and you’ll be weaker when you actually try to lift the weight.
By keeping your rest periods short, it keeps your strength from dropping and will allow you to push out those last few reps that much easier. This is especially important for the powerlifter trying to hit a record because it’ll prevent his strength from dropping which could cause him to miss a lift.
Finally, you should be eating plenty of food to keep your body energized and to keep your muscles fueled for growth.
In any case, the choice is yours on how you train. These are just suggestions and if you feel that you’d do it differently then by all means go ahead and do what you want.
Also, keep in mind that this is designed for the beginner, intermediate, and even the advanced lifter looking for a change in routine. The more advanced you are, the less you have to increase the weight and the longer you can stay with a routine.
For example, once you can do 12 reps with ease, then it’s time to add weight because you can’t really get any stronger with 12 reps.
However, if you’re just looking to increase muscle mass, then by all means stick with it until you feel that your muscles have had enough. Once again though, you’re going to have to increase the weight before you reach that point or you won’t make any progress.
Keep in mind that Maximum Overload Training is primarily for individuals who want to increase their strength and don’t really care about putting on a lot of size. If you want to focus more on gaining mass, then I’d suggest you check out the Weight Training Part 2 guide.
A lot of trolls seem to pop up in the comment section of my guide. I’m guessing they’re either stupid or just have nothing better to do with their lives. Either way, feel free to feed off of their stupidity and ignorance:)
What is the goal of this guide?
A. To help you become strong.
Why is it called Maximum Overload Training?
A. Because it’s the most effective way to increase your strength over the long term. It’s designed to overload your muscles and force them to grow stronger in response.
Is this guide suitable for beginners?
A. Yes, as long as you follow the guide. If you have a question about something, just ask and I’ll answer it to the best of my ability.
Q. I’m an advanced lifter.
Is this guide still suitable for me?
A. Yes, as I’ve said before, the more experienced you are, the longer you can stay in a routine before needing to increase the weight. You’ll probably be able to get a few months out of it before you have to increase even the starting weights.
What program should I follow after this one?
A. That depends on what you want to focus on, whether that be increasing your strength, lean muscle mass, etc. There are other guides for that so I won’t go into it here.
Is it better to use free weights or machines?
A. It’s personal preference really and it depends on the exercise. While machines have their place in a routine, so do free weights. Just make sure you stick to the basics when it comes to free weight training movements and you should be fine. I’ve designed this program with free weights in mind, but if you want to use machines, then go right ahead as long as you still follow the program.
What happens if I keep increasing the weight and I’m sure I’m ready to move up, but I’m still struggling to do a certain amount of reps?
A. First, if you’ve been following the program as it’s laid out and you believe you’re ready to move up, then by all means go ahead and do so. However, if you’re just insecure about your strength, then I’d advise that you stay with that weight a little longer and really push yourself until you can do the desired reps. Look, there will always be somebody who’s stronger than you and there will always be somebody who’s weaker than you. Just focus on being the best that you can be on your own personal journey.
Why are the rest times so short?
A. This is to keep you from getting too beat up by the weights and getting too fatigued. You’re not supposed to be working out until you puke, you’re supposed to be working out until you’re stronger.
I don’t have access to a lot of equipment, can I still do this program?
A. Yes, but you’ll have to improvise with some exercises. For example, if you don’t have a dumbbell suitable to do seated shoulder presses with, then sit on the floor and use a couple textbooks or something similar instead. If you don’t have a cable machine for the rope curls, then use a different weight bar or even thick book or something similar to complete that set. I don’t know your local gym’s equipment layout, so use your head and think of alternatives until you’ve completed all your sets and reps for each exercise.
I’m not really a fan of losing my hair/getting bald, will this program cause me to lose my hair or make me go bald?
A. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. This program is rigorous and it’ll put a lot of stress on your hair follicles, but if you eat well and keep yourself hydrated while you’re doing this program, then you should be fine. On that note, enjoy your new lustrous mane of hair you grow while doing this program.
Q. This is pretty expensive; I have a tight budget and can’t afford all this.
A. That’s too bad. Hahah just kidding.
But seriously, if cost is really an issue, then find a way to make it work. Look for deals at your local grocery store, buy food in bulk, etc. You can also look for cheaper alternatives to the foods I’ve listed in the program. If all else fails and you really can’t afford it, then don’t do this program.
What if I’m a beginner?
A. Leave this page and go find a good starter program online or in a book and when you’re ready come back and read this again.
Is there any benefit to taking steroids while doing this program?
Sources & references used in this article:
Effective Training: Make Every Rep Count by T MacCormick – breakingmuscle.com
EFFECTIVE TRAINING FOR THE TIME POOR-MYO REPS January 30, 2020 by D Meier – 2000 – McGraw Hill Professional
Analyzing the effectiveness and applicability of co-training by OM Menu – Reading Time, 2020 – wakefit.co.uk
Rest, rep count and muscle failure by K Nigam, R Ghani – Proceedings of the ninth international conference on …, 2000 – dl.acm.org
Team dimensional training: A strategy for guided team self-correction. by M Perryman – superiormuscle.com
Implementing evidence-based interventions in health care: application of the replicating effective programs framework by KA Smith-Jentsch, RL Zeisig, B Acton, JA McPherson – 1998 – psycnet.apa.org
Online large-margin training of dependency parsers by AM Kilbourne, MS Neumann, HA Pincus… – Implementation …, 2007 – Springer
Training practitioners to deliver opportunistic multiple behaviour change counselling in primary care: a cluster randomised trial by R McDonald, K Crammer, F Pereira – … of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the …, 2005 – aclweb.org