Methods of Max Effort – Part 2

In part one of this series I covered the following; Multiple Exertion Method, Maximal Concentric Method, Maximal Isometric Method, and the Maximal Eccentrics Method. If I am doing my job then you have gained a little more insight into the Max Effort Method. It can be much more than “maxing out”.

This article will cover Maximal Force Repetitions, The Maximal Restricted Range Method, The Cheating Method, Maximal Circa-Maximal Method and The Maximal Yielding Method.

Maximal Forced Repetitions

I am sure you all remember forced reps from high school. There are several ways to utilize this method for many different applications. Leaving bodybuilding aside we will focus on the pure strength aspect.

One way to use this method is also one way I do not suggest. I will still include it because there are many others who think this application has great strength training properties. This is a very simple application composed of one or two assisted reps after failure has been reached. Since this is Max Effort Training you will still need to keep your percentage over 90% with 1-5 reps being performed.

One other way to use forced reps is by using a method many have been using over the past few years. This method has also become known as the Lightened Method or Reverse Bands. To use this method you simply hang your barbell from bands so the bands help to lift the weight. This is used on the squat, deadlift, and bench press. Unlike the above application this method provides help from the beginning of the set. I feel this makes this a much safer method. This is also a great method for those who are looking to increase the mid to end point of a lift.

The Maximal Restricted Range Method

This is another one that has been HOT for quite awhile. Some examples of this method include:

  • Rack presses
  • Pin pulls
  • Board presses
  • High box squats
  • Squatting off pins
  • Partial leg presses
  • Arch back good mornings
  • Over head pin presses
  • Pulling off stands

This method allows for maximal overload of very restricted ranges of motion. This method has been very popular over the past 30 years for one reason. It works very well. If you are looking to get strong then you need to include this method in your training.

While I am also not a big proponent of cheating, I do feel there are certain movements where cheating can make a huge difference. One of these includes a chain suspended good morning. This movement is performed by hanging a barbell from strong chains at a mid waist position. The lifter will then duck under the barbell and arch the bar to the top position. With this movement the “strain” is the most important thing. Just getting the bar up is more important then if you are doing a good morning or squat. I also feel a slight sink and drive on board presses can do wonders for those who need extra work at the top; it will however hurt those who are weak at the mid or lower position because they are cheating where they need the work. This cheat will, however, allow the weak lock out lifter the opportunity to train with heavier weight. Once again, it is very important to know your weaknesses.

Circa-Maximal Method

This method has many cross over applications. It has been used as a 3 week wave in place of straight Dynamic Method Training for some time with great results. While this method can be viewed as Dynamic or Max Effort, it really depends on how it is used. Here are a few examples of the Max Effort:

  • Squats with multiple bands for a 1-3 rep max
  • Deadlifts against multiple bands for a 1 rep max
  • Bench press with chains and bands for a 1 rep max

The key thing to understand with this method (regardless of application) is to make sure the weight at the top of the movement exceeds 90% of your one rep max. This is what makes this circa-maximal.

The best way to accomplish this while avoiding over-training and acute training injuries is to use chains and/or bands with your barbell weight. There is not a magic percent of weight to bands or weight to chains with this method (This is very different when used as a dynamic method) so all you really need to do is load the bar up to around 50-60% barbell weight and add bands or chains. Here is one example of what I mean for a 500 pound bencher.

Close Grip Bench Press

  • 45 pounds for 3 reps
  • 45 pounds for 3 reps with double light band
  • 95 for 3 with double light band
  • 135 for 3 with double light band
  • 185 for 3 with double light band
  • 185 for 3 with double light band and add one chain per side

The lifter will now keep adding one chain per side and work up to a 1RM.

There are several other examples and combinations of how this method can be applied. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you.

Maximal Holding Method

This is one that you see from time to time. I am also not a big fan of this one, but it is also very popular with a very large number of lifters. This method is great for what I call strength stabilization. Strength stabilization is how well you can stabilize maximal loads. It really does not mean shit if you can stand on a stability ball if you can’t stabilize maximal weights. Many of you have heard of (or have done) walkouts for the squat.

This is exactly what this method is. Many lifters who do walkouts or stand ups will set up the weight and hold it for a certain count. This may be 3, 5, or 10 seconds. I feel the best time would be 1-2 seconds more than the exact amount of time it takes the lifter to finish a maximal lift with the same lift being trained.

For example, if it takes you 6 seconds to perform a 1RM squat then you will hold your walkout for 7-8 seconds. Remember to keep your body tight! Here are a few other examples of the Maximal Holding Method;

  • High pin deadlift holds
  • Very high pin squats
  • Very high rack lockouts
  • Bench press holds
  • Very high board presses

If the exercise has more movement than the set up and hold (very high board presses), then you will do one rep by holding for a couple seconds at the top, lower and press the bar, and then hold for 2-3 seconds at the top again.


As stated in part one of this series some of these names may be different than what you have seen. I have noticed over the years many people call the same methods many different things. I just make up what is the easiest for you to remember and understand. It is not my intention to come up with a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo that you have to use your decoder ring to understand. My goal is to give you stuff you can hit the gym with today.

Good luck on your journey.

Written by Dave Tate

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Methods of Max Effort – Part 2 discussion thread.

About Dave Tate

Dave is the co-owner of Elite Fitness Systems Dave Tate is the founder and CEO of Elite Fitness Systems has been involved with powerlifting for more than two and a half decades as a world-class participant, coach and consultant.

He has logged more than 10,000 hours of personal training and strength consulting sessions with professional, elite and novice athletes, as well as with professional and university strength coaches. He holds Elite status in powerlifting (in three weight classes) with best lifts of a 935 squat, 740 deadlift, 610 bench press and 2,205 total.