How often do I change Max-OT routines?

The frequency you change your Max-OT routines depends on your individual preference in my opinion.  I don’t think frequent changes are necessary from a results stand point but you may find the “mental freshness” of following a new routine helpful periodically.

Let’s make one point clear.  When you do change your Max-OT arrangement you still want to follow the important Max-OT principles such as exercise selection, set/rep volume and training frequency.  Also remember change for the sake of change is not productive if you are installing less effective methods just to do something different or to “shock your muscles”  Muscles don’t need to be shocked, they need to be progressively overloaded with basic lifts.

Among the Max-OT principles is the recommendation of taking a week off after every 8-10 weeks of training.  I think the week back to the gym following your time off is a logical time to change to a new Max-OT arrangement if you choose.  I like to follow the same plan for the entire 8-10 week period so I can establish numbers and work to better those numbers every workout.  If you are frequently changing your routine that type of progression is hard if not impossible to measure.

At the end of the day what really matters most is the continual execution of the core principles for months and months on end.  Couple this with consistent nutrition and you will be on the path to maximal results.


  1. Jeff,

    I’ve been using MAX OT for a little over a year since i first got my hands on the video yourself and Stu created.
    My question pertains to the rest period every 8-10 weeks as you mentioned in this article.
    After 8 weeks i would take the planned week off, i kept my diet similar to the one Stu used with some modification, and had enough rest, always strict with my diet.
    Whenever i came back, the first week i felt really weak every time, for instance-if i went to deadlift i could only complete 3 reps on my first set and it always felt glued to the floor, and the next week all of my strength would be back.
    I read about working at a certain percentage of your working weight outside of MAX OT protocols, instead of taking a week off, i just did bench press, deadlift, and squats around 65% of my working weight and came back the next week even stronger that time around, no other exercises were performed that “off” week.
    For someone like myself, would you still take the full week off if you came back “weak” or deconditioned? I realize everyone is different but would like your words of wisdom.

    Off the subject: The “i want to look like that guy” video changed my life forever, without it i would have never stepped foot into the gym and lost right over 100 pounds in the course of a year and learned the discipline demonstrated in the video. Thank you and Stu so much.


    • Awesome! Glad the DVD was helpful.

      It is normal from my experience to feel a little weaker the first week back. I recommend the first week back is treated as an acclimation week and you don’t attempt the weights that you left off with at the end of the previous training cycle. Rather I would select weights you can handle for 6 relatively easy reps per exercise on the first week back and then progress from there going forward to establish new numbers week by week.

      In the long term from the week off you will be stronger.

  2. Jeff, I just pinched a nerve in my neck on Monday while doing Max-OT. I’m looking at about 2 months out of the gym and at least 2-3 weeks before the pain really goes down. Any suggestions of what I can do while I’m out of the game? I was thinking about waiting a month or so and then just doing Max-OT cardio 7 days a week.

  3. I love your post – super job!

  4. Hi Jeff,

    I’ve been reading a lot about you lately and the Max OT workout. I started today with ‘back’. Should I only be doing 2 sets of 4-6 reps? 2 sets feels like I haven’t really worked out. Also, would you recommend a low carb, high protein diet, or should I be eating a lot of carbs if I want to gain some muscle?

  5. avatar
    paul Crockett

    Hi Jeff. I must say since discovering Max ot it has really opened my eyes. I always trained to failure in the past but think I was always doing too many reps/sets!
    My problem is I don’t think I could commit to 5 day a week training program. I Know in week 6 of Max ot course you list a 3 day a week course and also a 3 days on – 1 day rotating routine.
    What would be ideal for me would be 4 days a week. The 3 day a week course seems alot to get done in each work out of 40mins. I think Chest, Delts and Triceps may be hard to get done in 40mins?
    I wanted to start the 6 month plan but it’s only detailed for the 5 days a week course in regards to sets and changing of exercises etc. Can you please help? Kind regards, Paul

  6. avatar
    james power

    hello from ireland!!

    big fan first and fore most, the documentary is great! ive just started, my main query is should i really be done my workout in 40/45 mins, this gets me in the gym knowing i dont have to face 2 hours of slugging around!! is 40/45 mins really ok??

    also, what you think of the smith machine?? i use it alot (although id prefer free weight bench), but i go alone and have noone to spot me! is the smith machine ok?

    thanks so much

    • Yes, your workouts should range anywhere from 25 minutes to 45-50 minutes depending on what body parts you are working on a given day.

      I prefer free weights to the smith machine but if it is a matter of safety and you have no other choice than it is an option.

  7. i have just finished the whole 12 week program. how many times can i repeat the max ot program before my body gets use to the 4-6 rep range and i no longer grow from it?

    • Indefinitely. You can change Max-OT arrangements after the week off but I feel you want to continue to execute the principles. As long as you are working to achieve progressive overload you will force the body to have to adapt.

      • Hi Jeff,

        I like your response to patrick. Follow up question:

        does that mean that you don’t need to periodize your training to achieve genetic muscular potential? In other words, can I repeat max-ot forever and reach my genetic potential without having to resort to higher rep training and intensity techniques like rest-pause, drop sets, varying training frequencies, etc?

        • Yes, that is my opinion. I believe progressive overload with basic lifts is the key and I believe that is more important than variety of movements or styles.

          • Jeff, thank you for the quick response. I will assume that with performing Max OT (or any routine for that matter) there comes a time when the linear progressive overload approach stops working, meaning that you stay at a certain weight for an exercise for a long time. That’s why I thought periodization was necessary. Since you have many years of experience with HST and you obviously have an advanced level of muscle, you must have ran into the exact situation I describe. Since you solely follow Max OT principles, how did you get past those “humps” and resume progressive overload? Sorry for the long drawn out question.

          • I just keep driving and work to better execute all the Max-OT principles each workout, making sure the majority of the load is going to the intended area with great execution of the movements. The muscle knows a resistance level, not absolute poundage per se so as long as it is being effectively overloaded you will be signaling the growth response.

            Also work to better your numbers each workout which won’t always equate to going up in weight. It could mean getting an extra rep (within 4-6), doing another set with a the heavy weight (within the target set number) or executing an exercise better. These are examples of getting better “numbers” without actually increasing weight.

  8. Hey Jeff I just started looking into max OT I’ve been on Starting Strength for 2 months. I have a 215 bench, 280 butt to ground squat, and a low to mid 300 deadlift. I’m worried about the frequency of MAX OT but seeing you and others testimonials I’m guessing I shouldn’t be worried at all. I’m going to start it in September when I start college because Starting Strength takes an hour to 1.5 hours per workout to complete and I won’t have time for that. I saw a Max OT routine on the Starting Strength website that claimed to be one of the routines you used. It said do 50 pull ups before anything else on the back day. I was wondering would this be a good idea for anyone that starts out MAX OT?

    • We evolved away from the 50 pull ups. I prefer weighted pull ups on the 4-6 range.

      I’m a firm believer in the Max-OT volume. You have nothing to be concerned with.

  9. Hey Mr. Willet. I’ve dove into the Max-OT training principals and I must say, it is very life changing for sure. The “I want to look like that guy” documentary was a sheer turning point for me. That is true motivation to get back and to start hitting the weights again.

    I have just one question though, but I am sorry if I am repeating a question that someone may have asked before, so

    Q: Since the Max-OT training principals say that you have to lift heavy weights that only allow you to do only 4-6 reps but no more than 6 reps. In some of the videos that I have seen of you training, you lift Very heavy, but you go beyond the 4-6 rep range. Does that contradict the muscle building routine for Max-OT because it “Exhausts” the muscle and exhausting muscle does not induce muscle growth.

    I would be very appreciated if you can lend me some pointers to this concern I’ve brought up. Much appreciated for all your work that you have done to help everyone get into the best conditions in their lives.

    • In any real training footage I don’t go beyond 6 reps in muscle building sets. Some footage may be warm-up sets but more likely it is footage of pumping up the muscle for the camera but not a “real” workout.

      I followed the Max-OT principles to a T for many years and that was key to maximizing my physique.

  10. Mr. Willet, I am sorry, but I want to ask another question.

    How do you discipline yourself to be committed to eating healthy? I sometimes tend to deviate from my nutrition – which I see is a problem, but I don’t want to be really restrictive on my eating regimen. I just want to know what techniques you’ve used to counter the mental games to actually eat right and not so into the junk food.

    Thank you again for your help (in advance)

    • I always connected to the vision of what I wanted to achieve and realized that every decision I make will take me closer to or further away from making that vision a reality. Remember too that every opportunity that passes you by to supply yourself with the proper nutrition is an opportunity you can never get back.

  11. Jeff I admire your physique a lot, I’m 5’7” and I’ve been doing max ot for a month now, the results have been spectacular, but I feel it is best to stick to one program for 8 weeks, then take the week off, then start with a new max ot program, do you agree?. I want to be as huge as you, drug free for life 🙂

    • I also prefer to follow the same Max-OT routine for 8-10 weeks. Then after the week off you can switch to a new Max-OT arrangement if you choose.

  12. Mr Willet, I have been following Max OT for around 4 months now. I started with eating extra calories to gain mass and now I’m cutting. Before I started my cutting cycle I started another routine, it’s called brink’s bodybuilding and it had 3 weeks of higher reps and 3 weeks of lower reps with heavier weights. I did this for 5 weeks before restarting Max OT. I have been cutting using Max OT for another 4 weeks and my question is should I take a week off? as I have been working out for 9 weeks now. Or should I complete 4 more weeks of MAX OT before I take a break and change my exercise cycle? I did not take any breaks after completing the brink’s bb plan and restarted directly with MAX OT.

  13. Hi jeff. Do you use 3 minutes rest for compound movements and 2 minutes rest for isolation exercises? Thanks

    • Generally we try to avoid isolation movements and stick to compound exercises. Rest between sets varies from 2-3 minutes. You want to take enough time to exert another maximal effort.

  14. avatar
    Devang Parekh

    Jeff, I follow your Max OT workout as I see it on your website. I am not trying to “shock my muscles” but I change to the next routine every two weeks in the 12 week training series. I hope I am following this correctly.
    During the Fall/Winter time each year I like to take time to bulk and gain some weight with MaxOT. Then, I return to a slightly more rep volume workout in hopes to lean out.
    My question is, in your experience or others how long should I follow max ot before i start any sort of cutting phase? how long did you follow maxot in order to see a large noticeable gain? do you fee 12 weeks is ok?
    I wouldn’t say im a hard gainer but I have longer legs and arms that are slimmer then my torso. I don’t have an issue of gaining weight, its true muscle.
    so to be brief, could you share your own, or other amateur person’s stories of how long they did maxot, before changing or not changing, and noticeable change. Thank you

    • Changing rep schemes is not the best way to try to “lean out”. Getting leaner is a function of your diet and cardio. I recommend sticking with the Max-OT principles all the time and then adjust your diet and cardio according to your goals.

      I think you want to give yourself a solid 6 months of execution to see great changes.

  15. avatar
    Devang Parekh

    Thanks for your response I will follow your advice. I just had another question. I travel, sometimes 2+ weeks at a time. do you have a routine you follow when you’re on the road and have to be forced to uses hotel gyms. Do you carry any equipment with you. Also, do you continue to focus on reps 4-6?

    • Try to split the major body parts into 2 days. If you can work Chest, Back and Legs with some compound movements you are pretty much engaging everything!

  16. avatar
    Devang Parekh

    One more thing to ask about.
    How do you feel about Olympic lifts? For instance if i put in power cleans, or hang cleans still focusing on a 4-6 rep goal.

  17. Hi Jeff. Is there any disadvantage to never changing your routine as long as you are continuing to add weight to the bar? After the 1 week off following the 8-10 weeks, could I just keep the exact same routine as long as I’m progressing?

    • I don’t see a big disadvantage. I think progressive overload is more important than variety.

      After the week off I suggest starting with an “acclimation” week where you slightly lower the weight to a point where you are getting approx 6 reps per set. Then in week 2 you can start pushing to improve your numbers. I establish new numbers every cycle and treat each cycle as a separate entity. I only compare number progressions with the current training cycle I am in.

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