Don’t Over-Complicate the Process

The muscle building process is actually pretty simple.  When I say that I am not talking about the effort required to execute the process, just the basic formula which can be summed up as stimulus and response.  Muscle is best stimulated to grow by being placed under heavy mechanical tension (overload) and responds to that stimulus by building bigger stronger muscles through proper recovery.

It’s almost like there is a need by some to make it harder than that.  So they over-examine things, dissect the minor details and look for the hidden strategies.  In the process of scouring particulars they miss the bigger picture.  Like Paul Delia once told me, “They are missing the dollars to pick up the pennies.” That has been a favorite saying of mine ever since.

For instance, some people ask me questions about weight selection. They say they are confused and don’t know exactly when to increase weight or what percent to increase it by.  Rather than making it difficult, simply use the 4-6 rep range as your guide.  If you can get 6 reps on your own then increase weight by the smallest increment you can.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect science as long as you progressively work to use more weights while staying in the 4-6 rep range with good control and execution.

If you over analyze the process you are wasting energy and causing yourself unnecessary confusion.  The principles are pretty clear cut and spelled out simply.

You can break the muscle building process down to a few major points:

*Train heavy with the Max-OT principles.
*Follow a good nutrition schedule daily.
*Practice smart post workout nutrient/supplement selection and timing.
*Train with Intensity.
*Execute the program consistently in and out of the gym.

Always remember….Don’t over complicate the process, rather channel your efforts towards executing the plan to the best of your ability each and every day.


  1. That’s my new favorite quote as well!

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Once someone establishes a consistent diet, how often should the calorie skims occur. Should we be cutting calories every 2 weeks? every 3 weeks? Also, is there any particular guideline on how many calories we should skim off (for example is there a minimum number of calories that should be taking out every time we skim)?

    Looking at Stu’s diet plan, you skimmed calories on an irregular basis.

    • The skimming pattern depends a lot on your goals and the length of time you have to reach them. If you have a deadline like a show or photo shoot that will impact that process.

      In general I would say a skim every 7 to 14 days and gradual amounts like 100 to 200 calories at a time.

  3. avatar

    Jeff, is there a particular personal training certification that you recommend? I’m interested in getting a part time PT job while going to school to be a dietitian.

    • Unfortunately I don’t know enough information about most certifications to strongly recommend one over any other. One certification method that I do feel strongly about in a very positive way is Metabolic Precision (MP), headed by Paul Cribb. They are just starting with some online programs. You can check out more information on their web site.

  4. Mr. Willet,
    First of all let me say, that I admire your work, your physique, and what you did with Stu in the movie. I am an aspiring trainer, and absolutely love the fitness industry. My question is, Im beginning a long, slow cut, and I have a photoshoot this fall. No concrete date set, but early October/ Late September. My question is, about calorie reduction. Ive got myself set up to make skims every two weeks, small ones, 100 calorie, and small increases in cardio. Ive read that this is a bad idea, blah blah blah. I feel better, and I feel like Im making it happen, as opposed to sitting back and hoping or waiting for it to happen. I just kind of wanted your input on making calorie cuts NO MATTER what. I’m going to do this, I just really wanted your input. Thank you, sir.

    • Thanks. I appreciate your kind feedback.

      I believe gradual cuts over a long period of time is most effective, just like you saw illustrated with Stu. To get ultra lean I believe you need to give yourself many months like you have done and then execute the plan religiously over that time period and following progressive skims particularly over the last 3 months depending upon your condition.

  5. I know your not into pushups but I will be entering a fire academy and I will be doing lots of them, hundreds! Is there anyway I can continue doing max ot while also working on my pushups or should start to follow a new routine? Thanks!

    • If you get stronger in the Bench Press with the Max-OT principles that will help translate to the ability to do more push-ups. I would not over-do the push-ups while training to develop max strength. I would follow Max-OT to the letter and maybe one time a week, “practice” doing push-ups. I wouldn’t do them directly before, directly after or on Chest day as to not impede strength or recover on that workout.

  6. avatar
    Jeff Reardon


    I’m s big fan of yours. Since watching the documentary
    You were in this past summer I have read up on Max OT,
    Read most if not all your blog posts and made many
    Pages of notes.
    I’ve finally gotten to the point where I feel good
    Enough to head back to the gym – Crohns Disease – and
    I’m using the Max OT methods you’ve discussed and
    The nutrition/supp plan. I’m hoping I’ll be able to follow
    The nutrition side if things. Seeing how Crohns really
    Limits what foods I can eat.
    I’ll keep ya posted … Please keep writing on your
    Blog. Your an inspiration to many 🙂

  7. Hello Jeff,
    I have been following the max ot workout regimen for about 3 months now. The hardest part for me currently is getting my diet in control. I want to add in some sort of supplement but I hate the taste of protein shakes. I have tried pre workout drinks (spark) and I didn’t like how it made me feel so I don’t use that either. Is there any alternatives that I can use? Also being a woman I’m wondering if there is anything is the program that I should alter. I have been feeling a lot better but the weight isn’t coming off… (Probably due to a lack of a strict diet…I don’t eat horrible but I could do better). Thank you for all your adivice and motivation!

    • Nothing you would need to alter. The basic principles apply to women as well. The diet is a huge part of the equation. If you can find a whey isolate that you like it is very helpful, particularly as a post workout drink. VP2 whey isolate by AST Sports Science is a very good product if you have not tried it yet.

      Keep executing and focus on the nutrition piece.

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