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Maxing Out

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Everyone likes to max out...right? Let's see how much we can lift. Surely that changes on a weekly basis...maybe daily! How often should you max out? What's the purpose? Do you really need to do it?

I've got this guy in my gym that recently maxed out on the bench press twice per day for an entire week straight! Crazy? I think so. The amazing thing was, he actually hit a new max of 380lbs. on around the six straight day. He was maxing out in the morning and the evening! I spotted him on the 380lb. press or I wouldn't have believed it. He's 44 years old and weighs around 220lbs. He knows very little about training or dieting and takes no supplements. This guy could be a 500lb. bencher if he would listen to anyone, but that's another story.

The above mentioned story obviously involves an individual that is taking maxing out to the extreme. He came in on the seventh day and noticed his strength had actually turned backwards for the first time. I told him he was overtraining and that it shortly would catch up to him. However, he had to find out for himself. On the seventh day, he finally nodded in agreement.

Why should you max out? Maxing out is simply a test of strength. It's a barometer to make sure your training is going right. For a powerlifter, it's a necessity. For a bodybuilder, it is not. There are other barometers such as bodyweight gain, body fat measurements, mirrors, and doing higher weights for the same rep range. I personally never max out with single reps. I don't powerlift, so I think it's a waste of time. I measure my progress with the other barometers I've mentioned. However, maxing out is a good barometer and shouldn't be dismissed by those who wish to do so.

How often should you max out? I really can't see a reason to max out more often than once every three months unless you're a powerlifter getting ready for a meet. Once every three months will give you a good gauge of strength progress without overdoing it. Maxing twice a year would be fine also.

Hitting a one rep max for power exercises is a good gauge of training progress. However, be cautious not to overdo it or your gains will take a step backwards. Always be careful when lifting weights and good luck with your training.

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