Ask anyone who used to be smaller, “How hard is gaining muscle really?” and the answer will undoubtedly be “very hard.” Hypertrophy is not only a calorically intensive process, but the entire process of building muscle requires a great amount of dedication.
Abel Albonetti claims to have created one of the most intense muscle-building programs ever – let’s see if he’s right.
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About the Creator – Abel Albonetti
Abel is one of the leading program designers on BodyFit – such as 30 Day Abs – and has more than 10 years of experience in the fitness world. Not only is he a famous coach, but he himself is pretty successful as an athlete as well.
He is a fitness model and a physique competitor. And due to his success on stage and as a fitness coach, he has been featured in the following:
- Muscle and Fitness
- Men’s Journal
- Flex Magazine
- People Magazine
Abel has a huge focus on coaching and growing his personal brand at the moment. He has started his own website called Abel Body Gym, and you can purchase personalized diet and training plans from him.
Maximum Muscle Workout Overview
Let’s throw it back to the 70s Gold Era of bodybuilding and do a “one muscle per day” split. With the Maximum Muscle Workout, you’ll be training only one or maybe two muscles per day.
Compared to other training methods like the full-body split, this may seem counterintuitive, but if you have enough volume, it can work.
- Fitness level: Advanced
- Duration: 9 weeks
- Workouts per week: 5 – 6 workouts per week
- Average workout duration: 60 – 90 minutes
- Equipment needed: Full gym
- Goal: Build muscle
One big thing about this plan is that it clearly is not for everyone. This phrase is plastered all over the page, but I’m not one to shy away from a wee bit of intensity!
But why would they even warn you about that?
The reason for the warning seems to be the combination of both high volume and high intensity – which is kind of similar to Building Von Moger. That said, they also mention that hitting your all-time personal bests will probably not be happening with this plan.
A week’s training during Maximum Muscle would look like this:
|Day of the Week||Workout|
|Saturday||Off / Legs|
This is a pretty standard weekly training schedule we have seen a million times in fitness magazines. Of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work; it’s just very old school.
In your very first session, you will be doing a staggering 36 sets for the chest alone. 36 SETS.
This means that while the training frequency is woefully low, the volume makes up for this. If you are someone who just likes lifting heavy, this plan will not suit you, as it will limit the number of heavy sets you can do.
In fact, Abel even gives you options to lower the intensity or volume if it is too much for you to handle. But what exactly makes it so damn intense?!
Abel Albonetti’s Maximum Muscle Workout Details
Compared to other workouts, the Maximum Muscle Workout is not split into phases. It is simply 9 weeks of pure hell (followed by a much-needed deload week, if I were to guess).
Prepare for Cataclysm
It’s pretty well known at this point that the phrase “for advanced lifters only” at the beginning of this review should be taken pretty seriously. You’ll be doing quite a lot of volume and intensity, and in case you aren’t 100% sure what that means:
Volume is the total amount of work or working sets you did per workout or per week. Intensity is how hard each of those sets was, whether it is hard because of higher load (weight) or higher reps.
Another thing you’ll find about the program that’s quite hard is “intensifiers.” These are methods athletes use to make a normal set harder than it already is:
- Drop set: You take a set to failure on a certain weight before dropping the weight by 20% or more and failing on the new weight again.
- Rest-pause: When you have hit the number of reps needed on a certain set, set the weight down, rest 10 seconds, and continue repping out the weight.
- Superset: Perform two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. A tri-set is three movements performed in this style. A giant set is four or more.
- Isometric hold: With isometric holds, you will hold the weight in the lengthened or shortened position, depending on the exercise. For instance, for a leg press, the lengthened position is best for an isometric hold. For leg extensions, the shortened is good for an isometric hold.
- Intra-set stretching: Hold weights in the stretched position after the end of a set.
- Blood flow restriction training: Perform reps with bands around the target muscle groups, such as legs or arms.
As any good program should have, Maximum Muscle also gives you nutritional and supplementation guides with this plan. These aspects can be summed up into a few rules:
Rule 1: Eat Enough
Naturally, when the goal is to gain muscle, you need to be eating calories to grow – even more, when you are doing both high-volume and high-intensity exercise.
Rule 2: Eat Enough Protein
Abel advocates a high protein diet, as he should. Protein is the only thing that can turn into muscle, and so he advises you to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight – or even slightly more.
Rule 3: Good PERI Workout Nutrition
Abel advocates good pre – and post-workout nutrition, as combining good amounts of protein with carbohydrates could result in better gains.
Rule 4: Avoid Sugar, Alcohol, and Fast Food
While some people might need a cheat meal now and then for the calories, for 90% of people, this will not be necessary at all.
Rule 5: Supplement Accordingly
2 Maximum Muscle Program Pros
- As advertised: This plan is not really phased with hurting someone’s feelings. It is a bulking program and should not be done when trying to strip fat. Does this limit the number of people that could benefit from this plan? Maybe, but this plan is ideal for those looking to gain muscle.
- Add-ons: You’ll often come across workouts that do not include any nutritional or supplement guides. Not only does Abel include both these, but they are both rather good!… except for the Testo boosters – those don’t really work.
2 Max Muscle Cons
- That’s a lot of volumes: Even if you are advanced, your body can still only take so much. Not even Ronnie Coleman did 36 sets for chest, and certainly not in one workout. Can it work? A very big maybe. For most, no.
- Time: While I firmly believe “I don’t have time” is the worst excuse ever (unless you are a parent), these workouts are going to take a tremendous amount of time. If you are limited in time, you will do better with a higher frequency and higher load approach.
Abel Albonetti’s Maximum Muscle Workout – Final Thoughts
I was pleasantly surprised by this plan. Sure, the amount of volume will definitely almost make you throw up, but if you’re an experienced lifter, you need that volume.
The world is definitely shifting towards a different kind of training style, however.
People now realize how important progressive overload is. This plan does implement progressive overload in some manner, primarily through volume. This means you should be close to doing this amount of volume prior to starting this plan, however.
There are definitely some things you would need to focus on if you want to follow this type of plan, like:
- Eat a tremendous amount of food.
- Sleep more than 7 hours per night.
- Do everything you can to recover.
If you can follow those three recommendations while also managing all that volume, Abel Albonetti’s Maximum Muscle is a pretty decent plan.
Is it for everyone? Definitely not.
The limit for “junk volume” is quite low for most people, and you would need… at least 4 years of lifting experience to be able to pull this plan off.
The only reason why this program will not score a perfect 5.0 is that there is little progression week to week. The volume kicks off super high… and goes where? Higher? Load sure cannot increase at that volume.
This lack of progression could seriously limit your gains over the course of 9 weeks. And you might end up hating yourself for that.
But who am I kidding – if you’re willing to do 36 sets for chest in one session, you must already hate yourself.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5