Which workout program is best?

Jeff WilletOne of the most frequently asked questions I receive is regarding my opinion on the best way to workout.  I’m a little surprised I still get this question because I have countless blog entries, DVD’s, e-books, Facebook and Twitter posts that all explain that I use the Max-OT principles. (Maximum Overload Training created by Paul Delia of AST Sports Science)   A simple look around my website will give you a good grasp of the method I feel is best.

No matter how you phrase your question, my answer will always be the same.  You can ask me 100 different ways and I’ll tell you the same thing.  If I thought there was a better way to achieve maximum drug free muscle then I certainly would have trained a different way all these years.   Let’s not forget I devoted 13 years of my life to the primary goal of achieving IFBB Pro status and if I thought for a second that a different method was more effective I would have used something other than Max-OT.

I’ve been involved in bodybuilding for over 20 years and early in my career I tried a variety of training methods like most people do.  The method that has worked the best by far is Max-OT. I’ve trained with the Max-OT principles exclusively since 1998.  When I adopted Max-OT I went from being a very good bodybuilder to being outstanding and winning 3 national titles plus an IFBB Pro Card.  Along with personal success, I’ve helped countless others around the globe implement Max-OT with fantastic results.

Max-OT is a low volume, high intensity approach designed to overload the muscles to create the best stimulus for development.  Here are the key Max-OT principles you will want to follow to maximize your results:

  1. Train each body part only once per week.
  2. Aim for 4-6 reps per set.
  3. Do 6-8 total sets for larger body parts like Chest, Back and Legs.
  4. Do 4-5 total sets for smaller body parts like Biceps and Triceps.
  5. Select mostly free weight compound exercises.
  6. Workouts should be concise.  If you are spending more than an hour in the gym you need to be more efficient.

This doesn’t mean the only way to get results is by training with the Max-OT principles.  You can train many different ways and achieve varying degrees of results depending on numerous factors, however, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt Max-OT is best.

My position is not to debate or defend the merits of Max-OT but to provide the best information I can to help you achieve maximum results.  If you choose not to follow my advice that is OK.  Use which ever approach you feel is best BUT if you are wondering my opinion on such questions as is 8-12 reps is better for muscle growth than 4-6 reps you should already know my answer.


  1. Your blog is truly inspiring, but i am wondering about your thoughts when it comes to increasing the weight. Is it as simple as bumping it up when you reach 6 reps? Also, if i hit a plateau, should i just work the same weight until i get past it, no matter how long it takes?

  2. Jeff, would shoulders be considered a large bodypart and fall into the 6-8 total sets?

    also, for overall shoulder development do you recommend doing seated DB or barbell press, or doing both in the same workout like 2 sets each?

    • 6-8 sets works well. Most Max-OT routines have 3 sets pressing (bar or dumbbell), 2 sides, 2 rears. Then for traps 2-3 sets of shrugs.

      Bar or dumbbells work well. The reason I prefer bar is because there is less wasted energy in my opinion. I don’t like wrestling the dumbbells in and out of position.

  3. the reason i was asking is because im not sure which of these routines to do for my shoulder/trap workout:
    BB press 2 sets 4-6reps
    DB press 2 sets 4-6reps
    db side laterals 2 sets 4-6
    db rear raise 2 sets 4-6reps
    bb shrugs 2 sets 4-6reps

    bb press 3 sets 4-6reps
    db side laterals 2 sets 4-6reps
    db rear raise 2 sets 4-6reps
    bb shrugs 2 sets 4-6reps


    bb press 2 sets 4-6reps
    db press 1 set 4-6reps
    db side laterals 2 sets 4-6reps
    deb rear raise 2 sets 4-6reps
    bb shrugs 2 sets 4-6reps

  4. Great, thanks you so much, your feedback helps me out a lot.
    One last question about arm training, well Triceps to be specific.

    I know triceps are very easy to over train considering they get hit indericetly on chest and shoulder days, In your experience would it be better to just finish them off lets say right after chest with 4 total sets so they have more recovery time, or put triceps in their own day with 5 totals sets. Do you get what im trying to ask, like if they are on their own day say i hit chest monday, shoulders thursday and triceps saturday and then repeat, they are constantly getting hit throughout the week where as if i just hit them after chest monday they would get more recovery time wouldn’t they?

    Sorry for the long question, just want to know your thoughts about this and in your experience which is more effective. thanks.

    • I’ve done it both ways…triceps on their own day and grouped with chest or grouped with shoulders and had success both ways. I think it can be successful either way due to the overall low volume approach of Max-OT.

  5. Hi Jeff,

    I just received your training dvds and journal, my question is: how often do you change workout routines? Say I start on workout routine 1, how many weeks should I train before switching to a different workout routine?

    Thanks for the inspiration and in advance for your advice.

  6. Jeff, simple question i was just wondering what is better to use for a flat bench press session dumbbells, barbells or a mix of both


  7. Hi, I saw in your videos that you drink protein during workout. I was wondering how much protein you drink during the workout?? Thanks a lot!

    • I use 2 scoops of VP2 Whey Isolate pre and post which gives approximately 50 grams of protein. The exact detail of everything I did is contained in my Lost Logs ebook.

  8. avatar
    Mikhael Jorgensen

    I Did Dumbbell Shoulder Press yesterday, and i really sway a lot in the back, so much that a person actually said “i should be careful i didnt broke my back”

    how much sway is to much, maybe thats hard to ?

    but i havent had any problems with my back, Yet, lifting the 90 pounds

    But i do sway a lot, how hurtful do you think it is ?

  9. With all respect to you and your achievements i don’t think that your philosophy of optimal training is ALWAYS true.Sooner or later platue comes and one should change the workout afterwards.If Max-ot was completely optimal you should be far more muscular than a decade ago.Of course it’s far more better than a lot of methods we see through internet and magazines but it’s not the “only” optimal workout routine.Every thing can be optimal at its own place.

    • You are entitled to your opinion. I have over 20 years of experience that have helped me formulate this SYSTEM and what I believe to be ideal. Again, this is based on my experience not only with myself as the primary test subject but countless people all over the world.

      I have never said Max-OT is the only way to train to get a degree of results. Quite the contrary, but I do believe and do standby the statement that I believe Max-OT is the optimal way to train to maximize results. If you want maximal drug free results there is no better way to train.

      For the record after several years of Max-OT training I was far more muscular and a MUCH better competitor…no question about that. I went from being a very good bodybuilder to a 3 time National champion and earning an IFBB pro card. All of that drug free.

  10. avatar
    Myles Kenney

    Hi Jeff I’m from UK, just wanted to say I’m on week 12 of max ot, and no suprise it is the best training method I’ve ever used, muscle sizeand strenght are increasing more rapidly than ever, and ive seen all your responses to others comments, and I think you need a congratulations for this alone and a big thanks, you have been my gym inspiration from day one for two years now, hope to see you in jw powerhouse some time in the future, thanks

    • That’s awesome! Thank you so much for the kind words. I appreciate it and am glad you have achieved great progress.

  11. hi Jeff
    wondering what can you do when you run out of some weights in the gym your working out ?
    my gym don’t have any dumbbells heavier then 100 lbs unfortunately
    barbell isn’t the issue but every 4 weeks you are suppose to change your routine if you fallow the MAX-OT principal by the book and I love it

    but how to do then ?I can’t do bench press for shoulder injury reason so I’m trying to work out around my injury as for now , I use to bench press 315 for 6-8 when I got my injury

    so barbell is ok but what ells can I do ? machine ?

    hope my point make sense lol I’m just curious to know what would you suggest

    thank you

    • You don’t need to change routines ever 4 weeks. I think that was misunderstood. I would stick with barbell exercises. I think they are more efficient anyway.

      If barbell isn’t an option due to injury then you can experiment with machines.

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