Here's a much more technical writeup comparing HST to Max-OT. Full thread found here
At heart, Max-OT is really just a unpretentious hypertrophy-oriented program whose ideas bears some resemblance to HIT. It doesn't claim to be highly "advanced", innovative, or complex; in fact, its simplicity probably is its main selling point. The manual to it is good especially for those moving toward intermediate-level training, as it reiterates fundamentals of exercise preparation and successful bodybuilding (compound movements, progressive overload, diet, and rest.) Below are the core principles:
1. Each workout should last approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
2. Train only 1 or 2 muscle groups per workout/day.
3. Do 6 to 9 total heavy sets per muscle group.
4. Do 4 to 6 reps per set to failure.
5. Rest 2 to 3 minutes between sets. (STR)
6. Train each muscle group once every 5 to 7 days. (ITR)
7. Take a 1 week break from training every 8 to 10 weeks.
HIT-esque, Progressive overload, and Rest
Max-OT most resembles traditional HIT in viewing intensity less from the standpoint of % of 1RM and more from metabolic fatigue. Arguably, it has more work sets per bodypart than a traditional HIT program would, but that's not unreasonable with the old-school HIT variants I've seen.
However, what's unique is its choice of 4-6 reps over the standard recommended 8-12 reps. It should be strongly emphasized that Max-OT's reasoning for the 4-6 rep range is not oriented toward the relationship between extremely heavy weights and hypertrophy. In fact, on a per session basis, it reasons that it's probably the metabolic processes from an extremely intense (i.e. metabolic fatigue) set that kicks off all of the responses leading to hypertrophy. Again, this would fit in with HIT philosophy.
But -- and here is the twist -- the program also acknowledges that it's really load progression, not rep progression, that ultimately signals an increase in muscle. There's an emphasis on double progression, but here they clearly emphasize load over reps. In other words, you want to jump through as few hoops (going from low to high of a given rep range) as possible to get to your new load. Ergo, why they recommend 4-6 (just 2 reps to jump to the next load) reps over 8-12 reps. They do make certain exceptions for notoriously slow-twitch areas such as calves and abs.
The total volume and muscle group recommendations are more or less guidelines to fit under the 30-40 minute mark. That 30-40 minute mark is likely abstracted from old-school studies showing cortisol levels signicantly rising above the 45 minute mark. Practically speaking, I think most Max-OT trainees will be in the 40-60 minute mark unless their gym is relatively sparse. They also point out studies regarding GH release and metabolic work.
Its recovery principles pretty much fit in with HIT too, but here they're splitting it down to 4 different contexts. Most of you HITers and periodization folks will immediately pick up the different contexts in nonspecific terms. There is . . .
1. Short Term Recuperation (STR) - Between sets.
2. Intermediate Term Recuperation (ITR) - Between workouts.
3. Muscle Specific Recuperation (MSR) - Between identical workouts.
4. Cyclical Recuperation (CR) - Between Max-OT Training cycles.
Where it significantly deviates from HIT is its strong stance against slow reps, machines, and most isolation movements. This is a exposive, mostly free-weight advice and it poos poos any curls, extensions, cable crossovers, etc.
Max-OT is also distinguished by its more granular approach to splits, a 5-way version no less. This is a really hardcore interpretation of Splits; you get the total volume down in order to prevent elevated levels of cortisol, but you torch the area with a lo of heavy sets.
A typical schedule would go
Monday -- Legs
Tuesday -- Chest / Abs
Wednesday -- Back (including deadlifts)
Thursday -- Delts / Triceps
Friday -- Biceps/Abs
Or . . .
Monday -- Back / Biceps
Tuesday -- Legs
Wednesday -- Chest
Thursday -- Shoulders/Triceps
Friday -- Triceps/Forearms/Abs
You can get creative with the split. After 8 weeks or so, you take a week off, then change your routine up again.
It really depends on how you organize your split. There's enough of an overlapping effect that most bodyparts will get hit 2-3x-a-week , which puts it behind a typical HST program. The manual doesn't really acknowledge the overlapping effect exercises have with each other, and so the typical Max-OT trainee will not be informed that, quite obviously, the triceps press (arm day) is just as good a pec exercise as the bench press, or that the deadlifts will hit the legs.
This is problematic on two fronts. First, most trainees working on this split may not know how to redistribute the fatigue of multiple failure sets with the arms. They may do Chest on Monday, Delts/Triceps on Tuesday, and wonder why they can't make strength gains in terms of progressive load. Secondly, by merely switching around which days to do what, they'll have a unpredictable situation with net protein synthesis overlap. That is, if they work Chest on Monday, then arms on Tuesday, you'll get 60 hours of elevated synthesis for the upper torso. But if you did arms on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, you'll get 72 hours. Over the period of 8 weeks, the difference is 4 days of productive growth.
On average, over an eight week period, you'll have about 24 days of elevated protein synthesis for a bodypart with Max-OT. On HST, you'll have 32 days of elevated synthesis.
Absolute and Progressive Load
This is perhaps Max-OT's strongest point. Because you're starting at around 80-85% of 1RM, the effect of RBE will take longer than on HST. Moreover, because you're working through a 4-6 rep range, you can probably increase poundages every week or every other week with 5-10% increments. You don't have to worry about metabolic fatigue. Because you're training explosively, the TUL is too short for high neural drive or rate coding (i.e. the total effect of failure) to be as pronounced as it should be. You should be able to make strength gains fairly quickly and from that, continue to stay ahead of RBE. Through the first month or so, Max-OT's efficacy with stimulating sarcomere hypertrophy should be pretty high. Note: if Max-OT used a 8-12 rep scheme, where you would have to jump through the 40-60 second TUL hoop, just to put more weight, there would be no way to progressively load quick enough to match HST. DC's training program sidesteps this caveat by saying you should try increasing weight every week anyway, THEN matching the reps of last week.
This also highlights the counterbalancing between the effects of absolute load and pregressive load. Because its load starts higher than HST and stays farther ahead of the RBE curve initially, the first 2-3 weeks will certainly generate faster gains than the first 2-3 weeks of HST. However, because HST is more rigorous in its progression of loads, the 5s and post-5s of HST may generate faster gains, even though the absolute loads you use with Max-OT may be relatively higher still. That being said, if you stay at your 5RM through post-5s, then progressive load is a wash here too. Again, HST will still have the advantage because you're training more frequenty (and the application of strain on the muscle will be uneven with Max-OT's split regimen) . . . but the difference will not be as marked as it should be. You have a classic situation of the tortoise and hare. In HST, gains should speed up as you approach the end of the cycle. In Max-OT, gains slow down as you approach the end of the cycle, even if you made strength gains every week.
Metabolic Stress and Injury Prevention
Max-OT has a slight edge per session. Even though the sets are short, you'll be hitting 6-9 sets per group. That's enough volume to create a moderate MAPKerk1/2 signal, albeit far less than DC's training would. That being said, HST's combination of higher frequency and 10/15-rep protocols puts it at a slight edge over Max-OT over the 8 week period. Its carb and metabolic requirements are less than HST, though, making it easier to prepare a diet.
Max-OT has a complete absence of any high-rep connective tissue remodeling scheme. Even DC's program has built-in mechanisms to keep joint pain down. Given Max-OT's preference for heavy training, this could be a serious problem. I strongly recommend adding in a week of high-rep training before you start the 8-week period in order to protect yourself from this.
Strength Gains and Fatigue
Max-OT is better than HST and DC at this. And this is why some people prefer Max-OT over HST. That being said, HST does a better job at managing fatigue and systemic resources. Because your total # of sets will be modest and you're not training to failure, you avoid the overtraining symptoms that Max-OT purports to solve. However, at the same time, you won't enjoy the immediate strength gains (many of which, are adaptations to the fatigue), that you see on Max-OT.
1) Frequency: HST > > Max-OT
2) Absolute Load: HST < Max-OT
3) Progressive Load: HST > Max-OT
4) Sarcomere hypertrophy (First 2-3 weeks): HST < Max-OT
5) Sarcomere hypertrophy (5s/Post-5s): HST > Max-OT
6) Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy/Nutrient-Usage: HST > Max-OT
7) Fatigue management / Cycle extensibility: HST > MAX-OT
*not related to growth*
8) Strength gains: HST < < Max-OT
9) Safety: HST > > Max-OT
When it comes strictly to muscle growth, traditional HST is better than Max-OT on 5 out of 7 important fronts.
However, the difference in gains between the two may not be as appreciable. The key thing to note with Max-OT is whether your gains slow down as you progress in the cycle. This can be easily dealt with by simply incrementing the loads week-to-week, and hopefully you've gained enough mass from the previous week to make the 4-rep minimum. By doing this strategy and using the 2-week "advantage" over RBE you get from using a 5RM load, you can generate results with Max-OT that can get close to intro-level HST. Plus, you get the strength gains.
For some people, Max-OT may be a more desirable program than HST. However, watch your joints.