Review of 'The Max Muscle Plan'

Blast Through Training Plateaus for Your Best Body Ever!

A male athlete relaxes between sets at an old gym in San Diego, CA
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Brad Shoenfeld provides a detailed and scientifically validated program for muscle building, from beginner to advanced. In fact, MAX is an acronym for "Mitogen-Activate eXtreme"—which refers to muscle cell optimization.

You can read an endless variety of information about muscle building on various websites, books, and magazines, but finding an author that gets the complete package— from workouts to nutrition—just about right, is very rare. Brad Schoenfeld is your 'go to' guy for such instructional texts.

About Max Muscle Plan

Published by Human Kinetics, a reliable and well-established publisher of sports science books, the book has 11 chapters, along with references and an author bio.

  • Chapters 1 and 2 explain the science behind the program: how muscles adapt to training and what causes them to grow.
  • Chapters 3 to 5 detail all the exercises included in the program: more than 100 total exercises.
  • Chapters 6 to 9 contain the core of the book: a complete blueprint for achieving your ultimate body. The program works through phases MAX strength, MAX metabolic, and MAX muscle in fine detail.
  • Chapters 10 to 11 address the role of nutrition and cardio in your muscle building efforts and how to maximize muscle and minimize body fat.

Max Strength Phase

The MAX Muscle Plan starts with the Strength Phase. Schoenfeld describes how, in this phase, you focus on lifting heavy weights with low repetitions to increase strength. Building muscle is of secondary concern at this point, although you will increase muscle to some extent.

MAX Metabolic

In the Metabolic Phase, you will condition your body for the final muscle building phase. Schoenfeld describes how to optimize training efficiency by packing in more exercise in less time and consequently increasing lactate threshold, a precursor to muscle growth. In this phase, you will lift lighter weights and do more reps.

MAX Muscle

The MAX Muscle Phase is where it all comes together. The plan involves 25 to 30 sets per session, multiple sets per exercise at a rep range of 6 to 12 exercises per set with rest intervals of 60 to 90 seconds between sets, according to Schoenfeld.

He describes how the muscle phase, building on strength and metabolic phases, allows for increased time under tension for muscles and that this increases your capacity to tolerate greater volumes of work and thus muscle increases.

MAX Nutrition

MAX Nutrition rounds out the program by advocating a sensible and scientifically proven nutrition program. Schoenfeld discusses sports nutrition recommendations for total calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fats, as well as meal timing in relation to training.

There's is also a chapter on cardio and how best to utilize it in a muscle building program.

Overall, The MAX Muscle Plan is an excellent body of work, and you will not need much more than the book to be guided to a great, drug-free, muscular body.

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