Archive for October, 2012

max-issue-1

UPDATE: new video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIy42vXg00U&feature=youtu.be

Just do a search for a review of this program and you’ll find a dozen affiliates praising the program, using a bunch of sly marketing gimmicks ultimately trying to sell you on the program.  Well, unlike those people I’m not getting kickbacks from them, so you don’t have to worry about being lied to the way the other ‘reviews’ will do.

BACKSTORY:

Those familiar with Vince Del Monte know that he began by writing a bodybuilding e-book that got fairly popular. If you’ve found your way onto his mailing list then you’re probably used to him trying to sell you on a different program every other week.  For whatever reason though, when he started promoting Ben Pakulski’s MI40, this felt like something different, like something that might actually be good… and it was.  I eventually bought the program and it was easily one of the best training programs I’ve ever bought.

To follow this up, Ben and Vince teamed up to create Hypertrophy Max.  The idea behind this program was that it would be 6 different hypertrophy programs delivered every month in hard copy and dvd format, followed by 6 specialized programs for specific body parts.  They only kept the offer open for about two weeks, and then closed off the site until January 2013.

You could either choose to buy the entire 12 month program for just under $500, or go month-by-month for $100 per month… this second option was called: “name your price” — they let you choose how much you wanted to pay for the first month, but the fine print said that you will be billed $100 per month starting in the next month (unless you cancel).

There was a third option that they didn’t publicize.  If you tried to navigate away from the page it gave you the choice to get the digital version of the program for $70/month. This caused quite a stir amongst the members, because most of the members said they would prefer to have it digitally (since they could print it and make their own dvds), save the extra money, and not have to wait several weeks for it to arrive in the mail.

It became pretty clear from the beginning of this launch that Ben is the brains behind the training and nutrition, and Vince is the brains behind the marketing.  And they are both very good at those things.  Unfortunately Vince views himself as a co-coach, which has made for some contradictory advice in the forums, and several times where Ben had to either clarify, or outright correct Vince in the videos and coaching calls.  Lucky for Vince’s ego, Ben was very tactful about it.

But being the sly marketer, Vince made a pretty big blunder early on.  Almost as soon as they closed the site and made all their sales, he took off to Hawaii with all his new cash and virtually abandoned the forum and the members who were anxiously waiting for their first installment.  Yet while he was on vacation and no one on the Hypertrophy Max forums heard from him, we were still getting emails from him selling other programs.

But now onto the program itself.  Since phase 4 was just released I’ll just discuss the first 3 phases in this review…

PHASE 1 – MAX-TENSION: While I was waiting for this phase I did a lot of research based on some of the hints they dropped and realized that this is effectively what most programs refer to as ‘Anatomical Adaptation’. It’s mainly focused on strengthening stabilization muscles and balancing your body.  It is probably one of the least glamorous and least appreciated training models that should be implemented by bodybuilders yet often isn’t.  So that being said it’s not as ‘sexy’ as MI40, but definitely a good set of workouts to be familiar with.

As far as the additional material goes, some of it was great, and some of it left a lot to be desired.  The ‘Secrets of the Pros’ segment was very interesting, and brought scientific validation to their methods.  However the nutritional and supplementation sections were pretty sparse.  There wasn’t a nutritional plan or guidelines given in the program content, just basic principles of what to eat and what not to eat.

The supplements had just three basic supplements they recommend.  They claim they didn’t want to throw a lot at people all at once, but it felt more like they were holding back as much as they could so they could spread it over the entire length of the program.

The ‘meet the coaches’ videos were nothing special.  I don’t think many of the people who got the program care about what Vince’s bookshelf looks like.

As for the coaching call, it was delayed quite a bit due to Vince’s previously mentioned vacation.  When it finally came it was quite well done, with Ben’s girlfriend asking the questions, Ben answering some, Vince answering others, then Ben re-answering the ones that Vince answered wrong.  But is was a good addition to the program and filled in a lot of the dietary gaps.

PHASE 2 MAX-DENSITY: I had previously been aware of density training from the writings of Tom Venuto and Charles Staley but had never done it, so this was an interesting training method.  They incorporated both density style training and reciprocal inhibition in this phase, which really makes you think about the angle at which you are working.

Once again, the supplement and nutrition sections were small and only contained things that have been said by Ben many times in many places.

As for the ‘Secrets of the Pros’, this was an especially good episode, where they spoke to Dr. Jacob Wilson about various training and supplement science that Ben was making use of preparing for his Mr. Olympia debut.

The coaching call went a lot smoother this time but Ben was quite clearly carb depleted, and didn’t seem to have much energy.  There were also more questions that didn’t get answered as they were intended in this call, but probably because Ben’s mind was not quite where it normally is.

The training itself in phase 2 is quite enjoyable, and had new types of challenges.  It’s probably suited better to a 6 week cycle than 4 weeks.

PHASE 3 MAX-LACTIC: This phase had some of the best and some of the worst parts of the program to date.

The Good: The way the program is laid out seems pretty solid. It is challenging in more ways than one. Some of the exercises are really interesting ways to manipulate angles and body position. There is a lot more in the document this time that really gets into what this will do for you hormonally and why they’ve designed it the way they have.

The Bad: the training videos, especially day 1, felt like Ben had mailed it in, and his heart was not in it at all. The program is really just a rehash of Poliquin’s 6-12-25 program.

I can’t comment on the coaching call since it hasn’t been released yet.

PHASE 4: MAX-VOLUME
This phase is interesting in terms of training I. That it basically zig-zags the split by reversing it every week.

The secrets of the pros is a MAT specialist who seems to be doing little more that trying to sell viewers on his services.

PHASE 5: MAX-INTENSITY
This phase is all about strength and is done with two primary training methods: wave-loading (also called wave-like loading) similar to the model that Poliquin and Ian King have popularized.

The secrets of the pros this time was actually quite good with Toney Freeman talking about some of his practices. It actually gave me a new respect for Toney and led me to research some of his articles.

CONCLUSION

So this will only be important to people who are considering buying the program after it is made available again and are trying to decide if it’s a worthwhile investment. While it is a solid program, and you get video tutorials of how to execute the training so I can’t say it’s a bad thing at all.  I think what you have to ask yourself is, are you capable of creating your own periodized training program or do you want to pay for Vince’s next vacation by using the one that Ben designed for Hypertrophy Max?

UPDATE (August 2014): Vince and Ben have opened this program a few times, and likely will again (despite saying in past “coaching calls” that they are being overwhelmed by the demands of the program).

Since the number of people joining incrementally decreases they have found a new way to ramp up their ernings which was by introducing the “555 cyclic diet”. This is a diet that they deem as essential for success in the program but guess what, you have to pay extra for it. You also have to pay extra if you want home gym alternative workouts. Something to be aware of if you plan on buying the program… expect to be asked to pay more and more.

Also, for anyone considering the program here are a couple other things to keep in mind… they advertise 90 minute coaching calls, and of the 30 or so coaching calls they’ve done to date NONE have lasted 90 minutes, and most have been between the 30-40 minute range. Case and point, here’s a recent call. It runs only 47 min and a bunch of that is wasted on technical issues you’d think they’ve figured out by now. Here’s an even even more recent one free of technical glitches but only runs 19 minutes: http://instantteleseminar.com/?eventid=58567917

I contacted their “help desk” a few times about the fact that the calls are not even close to 90 minutes and was told it was my fault for not submitting enough questions to fill out the time.

Also be aware that if they are advertising a “transformation contest” they probably won’t actually make good on it (as you can read about here).

Related: Top 10 bodybuilding lessons I’ve learned from Ben Pakulski
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