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Max Contraction Training: The Scientifically Proven Program for Building Muscle Mass in Minimum Time Paperback – 12 Dec 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill (12 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071423958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071423953
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 1.5 x 27.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

"I had one little mini workout. I couldn't believe how short the workout was and how good I felt afterward . . . This technique is going to change your life."

--Tony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant Within

Bodybuilding pioneer John Little revolutionized the sport with his seminal books Power Factor Training and Static Contraction Training, both of which offered scientifically based systems for maximizing muscle gain in a mere fraction of the time required by traditional weightlifting techniques. Now, dozens of scientific trials later, he again revolutionizes bodybuilding technology with Max Contraction Training.

Representing a quantum leap forward in fitness training, Max Contraction Training is the culmination of John Little's more than two decades of research and experimentation. It is the most efficient way ever devised for maximizing muscle fiber stimulation in the shortest period of time. Imagine a 10-second workout (yes, you read that right!) performed once a week that can stimulate up to 30 pounds of muscle growth! The Max Contraction system reveals why you do not need to spend hours a day and multiple days per week in the gym to have a muscular body.

With Max Contraction Training, beginners and advanced bodybuilders alike can get faster workouts and more impressive gains than they ever thought possible. In this book, you'll find:

  • Breakthrough techniques that MAXimize muscle fiber stimulation, four times more efficient than conventional techniques
  • Optimal time frames for training muscles for maximum growth--many taking as little as 10 seconds to complete
  • Ideal exercise structuring for a total workout routine customized to your needs and lifestyle
  • Valuable nutritional guidelines for promoting rapid muscle growth
  • The truth behind all the hype put out by supplement companies and how and why many supplements do more harm than good

In addition, Little covers the stunning news that science has revealed as being the quickest way to stimulate pounds of muscle growth, the ideal structuring of exercises in a workout routine, the failure of conventional exercise methods, the optimal time frame to train your muscles for maximum growth--and much, much more.

John Little is the author of more than 30 books on bodybuilding, martial arts, history, and philosophy and the coauthor of Power Factor Training and Static Contraction Training. He is the creator of the Max Contraction Training method of strength training (www.maxcontraction.com) and has worked alongside the biggest names in bodybuilding from Mike Mentzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Lou Ferrigno and Steve Reeves. His articles on health and fitness have been published in such magazines as Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Men's Fitness, Ironman, Inside Kung Fu, and Blackbelt

About the Author

John Little has worked in the bodybuilding/ fitness industry for more than 20 years alongside some of its biggest names, including Joe Weider, Lou Ferrigno, Mike Mentzer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Bodybuilding, as it is presently practiced, is one of the most mindless, least healthy, and unscientific disciplines on the face of the earth. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Theo TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
What I have to say here is NOT INTENDED AS A REVIEW: I just want to give you some background knowledge that'll help you sort out the controversy surrounding this training method for yourself.

Exercising your muscles by holding them against resistance in a static position is known as isometric training. If you look back at the history of physical training over the decades, and even over the centuries, you'll see that isometric training regularly comes into and out of vogue. Many yoga asanas, for example, can be seen as isometric endurance holds. Isometric training can also be more intense - pushing or pulling at 60 to 100% of maximum exertion against an unmoving object. "Max Contraction Training" is one form of this. But so too can be simply tensing (or "flexing") your muscles as hard as you can in a static position.

I'd like to put in a couple of links here, but unfortunately I can't - Amazon has a way of censoring out any external links. However, if you do a bit of Googling on your own, you'll quickly discover that it is very well established that:

1. Isometric training does work. It is incredibly effective at increasing strength at the specific angle you exercise at.

2. Isometric training is not especially effective at building full range of motion strength - although in each individual there will be a very small percentage of muscles that will have their full range of motion strength increased by isometric training alone. Which specific muscles have this characteristic varies from person to person. I know this sounds very strange, but that's what the empirical research says. Go figure.

3.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By mr_ska TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Jan 2004
Format: Paperback
Max Contraction Training is John Little's follow up to the last book he wrote with Peter Sisco, 'Static Contraction Training'. Max Contraction Training contains some really good information and acts as a logical and worthy extension of the principles of high intensity training. However, the book is far from perfect and there are a number of problematic areas which Little does not satisfactorily address.
The early chapters of the book cover the underlying principles of strength training, and make it clear that the book is aimed at drug free people who want to follow an efficient and effective method of strength training founded on real scientific principles and research rather than the typical 'gym lore' and nonsense that gets published in the muscle magazines.
Little points out that he had been working on developing the 'Max Contraction' system before he teamed up with Peter Sisco to produce the 'Power Factor' and 'Static Contraction' systems and that he considers 'Max Contraction' to be the ultimate conclusion of the high intensity principles that underlie all the systems he has been involved with, which does kind of make you wonder why he didn't just publish this at the beginning and not bother with the other two.
He also goes in for a fair amount of repetition in getting the point about the position of full contraction being the only one in which all of a muscle's fibres can be forced to contract, and after a while this becomes a big of a drag. This is combined with a few mixed messages about safety which can become a bit confusing after a while. However, once you have figured out exactly what he is getting at you will find that the points he is raising are valid and contribute a great deal to your overall understanding of the science behind strength training.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. Gavillet on 9 Nov 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a person who has trained for many years I am always on the look out for new techniques, to achieve better gains in less time. After reading other reviews I thought the book sounded good although far fetched, but I was willing to keep an open mind.

After reading I was ready to put my new found knowledge to the test, but unfortunately was disappointed. I use a commercial gym and still found the exercises to be unworkable. The machine stacks just do not contain enough weight to perform the routines as required.

After reaching the limit of the gym equipment I thought a good test of my new found strength would be to try a previous routine. I was dismayed to find that I had to reduce the weight I had been lifting as it was too difficult, thus I had actually became weaker.

As a routine for the person who is already capable of lifting to the limits of commercial gym equipment, this program has nothing to offer. If you have access to machines that offer in excess of 400Lbs of resistance, or you are new to exercise then this system may enable you to reach your goals quicker, but did nothing for me.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo on 12 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I am a personal trainer and I read many books on training to learn new training methods and always be aware of the best to use me and my clients. If what is written in this book is indeed true, and if it works then this is the best method of training that has ever existed (for those who want to gain strength and increase muscle mass). In theoretical terms it all makes sense and I believe that works. Recently got me to try this method to see if it works .. I advise you to read and experiment too...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 36 reviews
82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and essential information with some big problems 26 Jan 2004
By mr_ska - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Max Contraction Training is John Little's follow up to the last book he wrote with Peter Sisco, 'Static Contraction Training'. Max Contraction Training contains some really good information and acts as a logical and worthy extension of the principles of high intensity training. However, the book is far from perfect and there are a number of problematic areas which Little does not satisfactorily address.
The early chapters of the book cover the underlying principles of strength training, and make it clear that the book is aimed at drug free people who want to follow an efficient and effective method of strength training founded on real scientific principles and research rather than the typical 'gym lore' and nonsense that gets published in the muscle magazines.
Little points out that he had been working on developing the 'Max Contraction' system before he teamed up with Peter Sisco to produce the 'Power Factor' and 'Static Contraction' systems and that he considers 'Max Contraction' to be the ultimate conclusion of the high intensity principles that underlie all the systems he has been involved with, which does kind of make you wonder why he didn't just publish this at the beginning and not bother with the other two.
He also goes in for a fair amount of repetition in getting the point about the position of full contraction being the only one in which all of a muscle's fibres can be forced to contract, and after a while this becomes a big of a drag. This is combined with a few mixed messages about safety which can become a bit confusing after a while. However, once you have figured out exactly what he is getting at you will find that the points he is raising are valid and contribute a great deal to your overall understanding of the science behind strength training.
The later chapters are concerned with the practicalities of training acoording to the scientific principles he has laid out. He gives a sound and well rounded basic routine to follow which is based around 'isolation' exercises (e.g. Leg Extensions and Leg Curls) which allow for the individual muscle or muscle group to enter a position of full ('Max') contraction and so activate all the muscle's fibres and utilise the full strength of the muscle. He then goes on to show you 'Bodypart Specialization' routines (e.g. Arms, Shoulders, Back, Legs) which clearly do not follow the principles he has laid out in the first part of the book as they entail doing more sets per bodypart rather than increasing the intensity of exercise.
Safety is also an issue, people who train on their own will be pretty much limited to using the weights that they can move into the position of full/'max' contraction on their own from full (or near full) extension for many of the exercises which, logically, reduces the effectiveness. What will really stick in the craw of many readers though, is that in selecting particular exercises he is clearly trying to get you to buy his 'Max Straps' which will only be available from his website, and will not be cheap either!
So, the book is deeply flawed, but also has some essential information that will do you a lot of good. I recommend that you first buy Little and Sisco's 'Static Contraction Training' and then use this to round out the picture. Where 'Static Contraction Training' focuses on compound exercises, this aims at isolation exercises. The two books and systems are complementary rather than competitive, and with some thought and common sense you can easily combine the best of the two books into a routine for yourself that makes the most of the equipment you have available to you.
82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Conceptually Great but the Devil's Flaws are Lurking 5 Oct 2006
By Earl A. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My partner and I worked the routine religously for over one year. I have great documentation of every rep - how was the form, how many seconds was the hold and a message for the next workout to either increase poundage, time of hold or to hold steady for better form.

And yes, just as they claim, my strength on the static hold began to increase. As I say, it's well documented.

And the 1,000 pound mark finally arrived on the leg press, and 350 pounds on the trapezoid shoulder roll with the barbell...all the other routines had virtually doubled in the weight resistance area...

You'd think I was really building muscle wouldn't you? Well I wasn't.

And here's the flaw: The day I leg pressed the 1000 pounds I heard and felt a tear in my knee. Miniscus(sic)surgery in both knees occurred last week. I'm a mess, but mostly because I had to have rotator cuff surgery on July 6th.

You see what the authors fail to mention to anyone is that despite the muscles ability to statically hold heavier and heavier weights, there ain't nothin' going on to strengthen the tendons and cartilage and other "body parts secondary to the muscle." And they can give way as they did in my case.

In my opinion, we all have a limit to the endurance of those secondary parts that can be overwhelmed by the high weights lifted via static contraction.

I've sacrificed 3 of my 4 major joints to surgery caused by static contraction.

And lastly, when we shifted to regular lifting after dazzling the gym with our "big stacking the weights on show," we were weaklings. My static bench press had been 310# but my bench press was only 165#.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
sounds good; until you try it 1 Jan 2005
By charlie bucket - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Let me just say that you should not waste your time and money on this book. I went to the store to get a new training book and i found this and it looked really interesting. It said that you could build maximum muscle mass in minimum time. I bought it and tried it out. When i first started reading the book it was hard for me to accept that you can actually build muscle without doing full reps and multiple sets for each muscle. I'm sure it would be hard for most people to change their beliefs after years of hearing from people that you need to do 3 sets of 10 reps or whatever.

So once i started using this "max contraction" program i had more time to do other stuff since the workouts were quick. A big flaw is that the book does not offer many alternatives for the excercises. For example the gym i go to does not have a pec dec which is the main machine that is used for building your chest. AND you have to order "Max Straps" in order to do a bunch of the excercises. I could see charging $5 bucks for them, but they actually cost something like $80! Plus the program neglects certain areas of the body like the neck and wrists. And it was always hard to tell if i was in the max contraction postion. And since I was not able to convince anyone else that this was legitimate, I did not have a partner to help me lift the weight into position. I could go on and on about how this book is flawed and contradicts itself, but I won't.

Here's the real proof that it does not work: After using the program for six months, my body weight decreased by 10 pounds, not including fat. I took measurements of my muscles before starting this program and they actually got smaller. I had increases in strength using this, but only for a little while until I eventually hit a plateu. I decided for one week that I would go back to doing a regular workout with reps and sets just to see how much stronger I had gotten. But I was actually weaker in almost every excercise using the full range of motion. what a big waste of time.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
FOCUSES ON THE ESSENCE OF THE ISSUE 3 Nov 2005
By Bassocantor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Little gets right down to the root cause of muscle growth: INTENSITY. A careful study of research on muscle growth confirms that it's not the movement your limbs perform; it's not repetitions--it's INTENSITY OF MUSCLE OVERLOAD.

Little homes right in on this critical point. His exercises are designed to maximize intensity on a specific muscle (rather than compound exercises.)

Much of Little's work is based on the classic, "Toward an understanding of health and physical education" by Arthur H Steinhaus. (This book is definitely worth getting as well.) This work shows the results of numerous experiments (by mostly German researchers) on both humans and animals.

Surprisingly, empirical results confirm that even brief, full contractions with maximum intensity can lead to maximum rate of muscle growth. Little is correct, therefore, when he suggests exercises of very short duration. Research confirms that indeed, just a few seconds at max intensity is sufficient to trigger a near-maximum rate of growth.

One suggestion for future editions: I didn't see very much about warm-up. It seems like this should be covered in detail, given that the suggested exercises will be at maximum intensity. Isn't that all the more reason for careful warm-up? To be fair, Little does suggest a SLOW contraction, which presumably would minimize the risk of injury.

Little also exposes the questionable claims of the myriads of supplements. The science of muscle growth is really not that complicated. If you study the scientific literature (not Muscle magazines) you'll quickly see the basis for Little's method. It's based on fact, not marketing biases.

Purchasing this book is a "no-brainer." If you're really serious about muscle growth, you would be wise to get it, as well as the Steinhaus classic.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
What you need to know before buying this book 12 April 2010
By Theo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I have to say here is NOT INTENDED AS A REVIEW: I just want to give you some background knowledge that'll help you sort out the controversy surrounding this training method for yourself.

Exercising your muscles by holding them against resistance in a static position is known as isometric training. If you look back at the history of physical training over the decades, and even over the centuries, you'll see that isometric training regularly comes into and out of vogue. Many yoga asanas, for example, can be seen as isometric endurance holds. Isometric training can also be more intense - pushing or pulling at 60 to 100% of maximum exertion against an unmoving object. "Max Contraction Training" is one form of this. But so too can be simply tensing (or "flexing") your muscles as hard as you can in a static position.

I'd like to put in a couple of links here, but unfortunately I can't - Amazon has a way of censoring out any external links. However, if you do a bit of Googling on your own, you'll quickly discover that it is very well established that:

1. Isometric training does work. It is incredibly effective at increasing strength at the specific angle you exercise at.

2. Isometric training is not especially effective at building full range of motion strength - although in each individual there will be a very small percentage of muscles that will have their full range of motion strength increased by isometric training alone. Which specific muscles have this characteristic varies from person to person. I know this sounds very strange, but that's what the empirical research says. Go figure.

3. Isometric training by exercising your muscles in the most extended position (essentially the exact opposite of the position recommended in Max Contraction Training) also improves flexibility. Interestingly enough, according to the mainstream science, this is also the best position to use if you want to maximize the effect of isometric training on your full range of motion strength.

Because isometric training is most effective at improving strength at (or close to) the exact position you train, in some forms of isometric training the same muscle group will normally be exercised in a range of different positions. For example, in both hatha yoga and bullworker training. In this way more broadly useful strength is cultivated.

On the other hand, precisely because isometric training is far and away the most effective way of building strength in any one position, this form of training is exceptionally useful for people who do want to maximize their strength in a specific position or series of positions: for example, wrestlers who want to maximize their strength for purposes of specific holds.

Another major advantage of isometric training is its sheer brevity: each hold is normally maintained for only 7 to 10 seconds. 7 second holds are traditional. My own understanding of the current empirical research is that while 7 seconds is optimal for cultivating strength, 10 second holds are best if your goal is to maximize muscle mass. But clearly, either way an entire workout can be completed extrordinarily quickly. [UPDATE: Most serious bodybuilders utilizing isometric training now favor 30 to 60 second holds. I have also heard that the author of this book has since put out a more up to date ebook in which he too has come around to this way of training.]

If isometric training sounds like it might be right for you, in addition to the methods suggested in this book you might also like to consider the Bow Classic - Full-size Bullworker and FREE DVD or the Steel-Bow Bullworker - Flex the Ultimate Total Home Gym includes 2 FREE DVDs. Designing Resistance Training Programs - 3rd also has some very useful material in it, although I caution you that this is a college level textbook on exercise science, and as such is only for the most serious students.

Alternatively, if you'd prefer to keep your money in your pocket, you might also like to check out John Peterson's Transformetrics website. As well as serving as a vehicle to promote Peterson's own material, it includes Mike Marvel's "Dynaflex" and Vic Obeck's "How to Exercise Without Moving a Muscle". Both these classic isometric training programs can be viewed in full for free. Peterson's own material is available for sale both on his website and here on Amazon. I've also seen both "Dynaflex" and "How to Exercise Without Moving a Muscle" available as free PDF downloads elsewhere on the net.

Theo.
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