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Max Effort Days. How to Implement them into Training

I’m a young powerlifter, but I’ll just cut straight to the point!a I’m following Jonnie Canditos Linear progression. I do know that it doesn’t use max effort days. However I’m curious on why a lot of power lifters use max effort days?? Is it just a small test of strength? And is it worth adjusting the program to incorporate max effort days in?

I’m new to the sport, and I appreciate a gentle shove in the right direction, haha! Thanks

You should read the .pdf that he provides right before the program as well as the first part of the excel sheet. On the 6th page of the sheet it explains you have three options for the 6th week. Deload, skip a deload and restart (using projected training maxes based on your sets from week 5. Or in most cases take that week to max and find your 1 rep maxes. I highly recommend not swaying from the program much, if at all especially being new (don’t just put in random 1rm days in the middle of the program). Hope this helps!

I think You might be talking about a different program??

But nonetheles, why don’t you think adding things into a program is a good idea??
My reasoning is that programs like the linear progression program, 5x5 or something along those lines are “cookie cutter” programs. I’m not an expert or anything like that, I could be completely and utterly wrong. But as long as you still follow the basic protocol/foundation you should still improve, right??
Like, if you go all out for 3-4 weeks, then on the 5th week, you do a max effort day. In the middle of the week, you don’t go quite as hard as a competition, but going somewhere like 90-95%. Just pushing it enough for neuromuscular strength and confidence. Maybe theres some mental benefit to it?? Im not an ego lifter, if anything I’m not as aggressive or as confident as I could be.

And yeah, it does help! I like thinking about this sort of thing, I have an open mind, so maybe I’ll learn something,

If you’re newer to lifting, you don’t have as much of an idea of what will or won’t work. This might lead someone to try a myriad of different approaches, but to assess whether or not a certain style of training works or not, a good amount of time has to be spent on each program.

The first 1-2 years, just about anything will work granted there will be some methods more optimal than others. By using a “cookie cutter” program, you will optimize your newbie gains since you won’t know what works for you anyway which will make a custom program sub-optimal. That’s not to say a custom program you design won’t work, just most likely it won’t work as well.

I’d say stick with a “cookie cutter” program as written for a few months and then assess. Things you want to look at would be like:
-Have my lifts gone up?
-Has my form improved?
-How are my joints feeling?
-What level of fatigue am I experiencing?
-Has the program kept me motivated?

Make a log and take detailed notes beyond just exercises, sets, and reps. This will help keep you from spinning your wheels. These "cookie programs’ are tried and proven and it’s extremely doubtful you’re going to be a special snowflake.

When a beginner, it will take more time with a program to figure these things out. If you start modifying the program in the middle of it, it will be hard to tell if that mod helped or hurt.

My best suggestion is to finish this program as is, and if you still want to include ME days, try a Westside for Skinny Bastards variation by Defranco.

After some time, most likely measured in years, you’ll have a good idea of what does and doesn’t work and you’ll be able to mesh together different ideas into a tailored program designed specifically for your own needs.

This can start when you’re around the intermediate stage. This will probably be in a couple years for someone just starting to seriously train who does “training sessions” as opposed to the gym rat without a good plan who does “workouts”.

I hope that makes sense.

The idea of a program is to follow it and to not change things just cause you are qurious. You can, if you want to, max in the middle of a training cycle but ultimately that is kind of a bad move. The point with those programs is to be at 110% at meet day. They make you good after a certain period of time and maxing in the middle will cost you at the end. Candito didn’t put ME days, justa cause he didnt or does not believe in them. If you want to have ME days, follow a conjugate template like you were already suggested.

ME days are mainly for specificity, because after all our goal is to be good at singles at the meet.

You wont die but you probably wont get a lot out of it either and it may impact your next training session or two. You should be getting plenty of clues that your strength is increasing (more reps, easier to move weights, etc)

The important thing is to not miss the lift. If you keep missing lifts you start to build bad habits.

Something else I forgot to mention is that beginners are more likely to egregiously screw up their form on a max lift than an intermediate or advanced lifter.

If you do choose a program that incorporates ME lifts, ideally you’ll have a coach or experienced lifting partners to constantly cue you and review with you your form.

Short of that, take the lift to a technical max and take videos to make sure what you feel is in alignment with reality. You could even post those vids on this site if you’re comfortable doing that. That is, the most weight you can handle before your lift goes to total crap.

For example with the squat, if the bar drifts way over your mid-foot and you’re throwing way too much back into the lift, don’t let yourself get to that point again. Or if a couple smaller things in combination go wrong. Using the squat again, this could be a little upper back rounding combined with a little knee caving.

In all honesty, I don’t see any reason other than competition to do max effort work as a beginner or even an intermediate. Utilize a simple program like 5x5 and get strong. It’s a proven program that has worked for many great lifters. Keep it simple and effective. The 5 rep scheme is still the best overall strength and muscle builder.

So I’m getting a lot of good answers for implementing ME days into the training program I’m currently following.

But why do a lot of advanced powerlifters do them?? I met a local powerlifting team called Darkside Barbell, and I was invited to come along and watch them train. And they were doing a ME day, so it just got me thinking on what the benefits are.

They need more specificity in their programming.

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But wouldn’t they already have the experience before hand??
A beginner with little to no experience (when compared to an advanced lifter), dont you think it’d be a better idea to spend a little more time handling heavier weight?? Not necessarily pushing for a PR, and then you could practise the commands as well?

I remember during my first meet, I had absolutely no confidence in my own strength. I was picking incredibly light weight that I could probably do for 5 reps, but I would be missing easy numbers. I just didn’t have experience with it, so I would miss incredibly easy lifts that felt like nothing! Just because I had little experience with trying to focus on weight and listening to the commands simultaneously.

I’d spend time building muscle mass and technique with a beginner. Id definitely peak for the meet to express the strength theyve gained so they can put their best out on the platform.

If you stuck with a program like 5x5 as a beginner, you certainly could do some heavy singles a few weeks out from competition to get used to them…

If you have a serious powerlifting gym / club like Darkside Barbell nearby, it’s probably best to seek advice and coaching from there if possible. All sorts of training can work if you learn proper technique as a beginner; look for as much help as you can get from experienced lifters in real life (who can see and advise you in person).


A beginner using a Westside Barbell type template would do best sticking with exercises very similar to the comp lifts and working up to a 3-5RM vs a 1RM. This way, the beginner would be able to build up the muscle mass they need and get more practice in.

When you use the term ME, that typically refers to Westside Barbell training developed by Louie Simmons. The point of ME according to his training philosophy is that it increases inter-muscular and intra-muscular coordination. The first is the ability of the body to synchronize the different muscle groups together and the second is the ability to recruit a larger percentage of the muscle fibers within a muscle. Essentially, you’re learning how to strain against heavy weights.

In Westside Barbell, you switch out the ME exercise to avoid accommodation. In their theory, if you keep up the same ME exercise for too long, you won’t be able to get better and you risk overuse injuries and psychological burnout. For the beginner, you switch every 3 weeks since it will take longer to accommodate to exercises since you’re less coordinated and so you can learn the exercise.

Also, ME lifting adds the specificity maxing out which is done in competition into training. Rotating exercises is not specific, but necessary because of accommodation.

For 3 weeks, you might do box squats, then the next 3 weeks, you do manta ray squats. And you might not even go all out each week in the Westside Method. If you’re feeling beat up, it’s totally okay to do some sled work instead. Or you might wave your weeks. Say you’re doing 3RM’s. Week 1 work up to 95% of that 3RM, week 2 97-98% of it, then week 3 go all out and try to break a record.

If you’re really interested in ME work according to what the term actually means, I highly recommend getting Jim Wendler’s The Max Effort Method. I firmly believe that this is the best book explaining what the max effort method is all about and how to implement it.

If you want to work up to simply heavy singles, there are 5/3/1 templates by Jim Wendler that call for that.

But the best advice I think is to go check out that Darkside Barbell out. There’s no replacement for training with a dedicated team.


do you implement sled work and how?

It doesn’t have to be sled work, it could be reverse hyper and ghr’s or whatever. The idea is to do some general physical preparedness (gpp) instead to give yourself a break from the heavy weights.

What’s nice about sled work is that there’s only a concentric movement which means you’re not breaking as much muscle down which makes it easier to recover from so you can focus more on the conditioning aspect of it.

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One other benefit of the max effort day/conjugate setup is that everyone can train together. Regardless of who’s meet is when, or how far along the training cycle any individual dude is, everyone uses the same percentage(maximum) every week.

Plus, you Get used to the competition/pressure aspect of a meet. Some guys get nervous when they have to hit a new weight for the first time. Using the max effort method, you get used to breaking into new territory.

I got that but I am asking you for like a scheme for sled work, because i’ll try making one in the near future lol

1 Day will be “Heavy” for a “Short” distance and a “Moderate” number of trips.

The other day will be “light” for a “long” distance, done continuosly without stopping.

I lift at a gym that’s in a strip mall. So Heavy day, I load 4 plates, and drag the sled along the “short side” of this rectangular building. For 6 trips.

Light day, I load 2 plates and drag them all the way around the whole strip mall building.

Week 2, heavy day goes up to 8 trips. Light day increases to 1.5 laps around the building.

Week 3. Heavy day 10 trips. Light day 2 laps around building.

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