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The High Performance Handbook

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Maximum Strength

Written on December 30, 2008 at 9:22 am, by Kevin Larrabee

Maximum Strength:

Get Your Strongest Body in 16 Weeks

with the Ultimate Weight Training Program!

“Eric Cressey’s cutting-edge four-phase program, featuring constant progression, variation, and inspiring goals, keeps you focused on increasing strength along with muscle mass, helping you achieve the fittest, most energetic, and best-looking body you’ve ever had – with fewer hours at the gym.”

Results speak much louder than words, though; featured below are testimonials from the initial group of nine “guinea pigs” for the program:

“One of my problems in designing workouts for myself was choosing the protocols. Strength, muscle growth, endurance, frequency, reps, sets, exercises, etc…there are just too many factors to balance, especially on top of a busy schedule. Too much of one thing usually resulted in an aching injury, or joint pain for a few days. Overtraining was common for me.

“I have to say that the best part about Cressey’s training system, in my opinion, is the balanced approach. I do not leave a workout feeling like I have pushed a muscle group beyond its ability to recover. And I like hitting upper and lower body twice a week. Training the ancillary muscles has kept me from having any aches or pains since starting the program. My shoulder has not hurt for months. My knees feel great. I feel like the exercises selected, the volume of work, and the mobility warm-ups are doing their job: keeping me healthy, in great shape, and in the gym.

“On the Maximum Strength program, I have actually improved all of my test numbers, my posture and joint health, and I feel stronger and healthier – all in spite of the fact that I’ve been busier at my job than ever before. I also feel that I look better than I have for many years. I was very happy with my results!”

Chris Paul – Danbury, Connecticut

Added five pounds of body weight, increased broad jump by six inches, box squat by 80 pounds, bench press by 30 pounds, deadlift by 50 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 10 pounds.

“The Maximum Strength program took me to the next level of performance with my lifting. After using a variety of programs focusing on fat-loss and hypertrophy and having limited results from them it was great to see such solid increases in strength and physique changes from the program. In addition, the program focus on dynamic flexibility and foam rolling has resulted in an injury free training cycle and major flexibility and posture improvements. I would highly recommend this program and book to anyone wanting to make real progress with strength, performance and body composition.”

Dan Hibbert – Calgary, Alberta

Increased body weight by 14 pounds, broad jump by seven inches, box squat by 80 pounds, bench press by 30 pounds, deadlift by 70 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 27.5 pounds.

“Bumps, bruises, dedication and commitment have lead to amazing gains in both strength and mobility. The Maximum Strength program is for anyone who has a desire to be better in their physical conditioning tomorrow than they are today. It is well written program that provides a variety of exercises and training parameters that keep you interested in going to the gym. Each month of the 4-month regime was a new break through and, in many cases, plateau-busting gains. Four months of your time is an easy investment to make in a program of this caliber.”

Gabe Wilson – Houston, TX

Gained 12 pounds, added 55 pounds to his box squat, 35 pounds to his bench press, 30 pounds to his deadlift, and 27 pounds to his 3-rep max chin-up.


About Maximum Strength:

-Co-authored by veteran fitness journalist, Matt Fitzgerald, who is renowned for his humorous writing style and ability to relate complex training strategies in simple terms

-4 progressive four-week phases designed to make you feel stronger and more athletic than ever before

-Each phase is complete with mobility warm-ups to keep you healthy and prepare you to train safely and effectively

-Recommendations for supplemental cardiovascular training based on YOUR body type

-Nutritional guidelines to follow to optimize performance

-A chapter on important considerations on how to plan your own future training

-Tips on mental preparation for training

-256 pages

-Over 200 illustrations to accompany in-depth exercise descriptions

-Foreword by world-renowned nutrition expert, Dr. John Berardi

“I’ve lifted for a long time now – but I have never trained until now. I was lifting like a bodybuilder to be an athlete and while it helped at first, it hurt in the long run. If I had this program when I was younger I think I would have been much better off. The mix of mobility and soft tissue work has helped me with all my old injuries and the periodization has helped me stay stronger for longer than ever before. The Maximum Strength program helped teach me a lot about how to train for a long-term goal and it will help me even more in the future.”

Ryan Gleason – Derby, Connecticut

Lost seven pounds and 4% body fat, increased broad jump by seven inches, box squat by 90 pounds, deadlift by 60 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 15 pounds.

“I was sick of messing about in the gym, changing programs every week to some different one I saw online, I was stuck on the same weights on the same lifts for ages. Eric’s program helped me focus on building strength, which has always been my main aim. I still play a lot of recreational rugby and I’m 100% certain that I’m stronger and better at it thanks to the program. Eric’s program covers all the bases: strength, conditioning, and mobility. I was extremely impressed.”

David O’Neill – Cork, Ireland

Gained five pounds of body weight while dropping body fat percentage, and increased broad jump by six inches, box squat by 55 pounds, bench press by 22 pounds, deadlift by 33 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 11 pounds.

What those “in the know” are saying about Maximum Strength:

“Eric does an outstanding job of pulling from multiple disciplines to maximize athlete performance. No fancy machines or gimmicks – just barbell, dumbbell, and body weight movements that are proven to be effective. Maximum Strength is a must-read for anyone serious about increasing their maximal strength and overall performance.”

Sal Alosi – Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, New York Jets

Maximum Strength is a guide for those who truly want to make meaningful changes to their bodies. Eric Cressey has created a program that will challenge any individual to push themselves to levels they have never been before. In the years that I have known Eric, his goal to help people achieve maximum performance and get the most out of their bodies has never wavered.”

Michael Irr – Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Charlotte Bobcats

Maximum Strength is a must-read for any person that is serious about changing their body. The easy-to-follow, detailed program is sure to deliver fantastic results!”

Shawn Windle – Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Indiana Pacers

And for Those Looking to Drop Body Fat?

“To say that I was very pleased with the results of this program would be an understatement. The active recovery and stress management approaches always had me ready to go for the next training session, when in years past I was constantly feeling run-down and less enthusiastic about training. The mobility work really helped me improve my form. This program encompasses so much that is needed for proper training, yet manages to focus it all together to yield the best results I have ever experienced. Now, at the end of the program, I’m much leaner and the strongest I’ve ever been.”

Jeremy Lisenby – Rowlett, TX

Lost 2.5 inches off his waist, and added 6 inches to his broad jump, 30 pounds to his box squat, 15 pounds to his bench press, 40 pounds to his deadlift, and 12 pounds to his 3-rep max chin-up.

“Not only did I improve my strength on all major lifts, I also lost a significant amount of body fat and became much leaner in the process. My body composition progress became evident to me when I had to have my business suit pants taken in by a tailor (usually, the opposite occurs). Needless to say, I was pleased.

“One of the most significant changes I noticed throughout this program was my increase in mobility. When I woke up in the morning, I didn’t feel as stiff and creaky as I had in the past. I also didn’t take as long to get properly warmed-up before a workout. Overall, I just felt stronger and more focused.

“Finally, I would say that even during the tough days, and weeks, one of the motivators was that I knew the program was written by Eric. I’ve read his articles and witnessed the results he can get for his clients. Throughout the entire program, I felt confident that what I was doing was not only safe, but effective.”

Jake Chatterton – Onslow, Iowa

Lost 11 pounds while increasing broad jump by 19 inches, box squat by 50 pounds, deadlift by 15 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 10 pounds. Anytime you can drop significant amounts of body fat while actually gaining strength, you’ve done an awesome job!

So Who is this Cressey Guy, anyway?

Eric Cressey, MA, CSCS is the president and co-founder of Cressey Performance. Specializing in athletic performance enhancement and corrective exercise, Cressey is a highly sought-after coach for healthy and injured athletes alike from youth sports to the professional and Olympic ranks. Behind Eric’s expertise, Cressey Performance has rapidly established itself as a go-to high-performance facility among Boston athletes – and those that come from across the country and abroad to experience CP’s cutting-edge methods.

Cressey received his Master’s Degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science through the University of Connecticut Department of Kinesiology, the #1 ranked kinesiology graduate program in the nation. At UCONN, Eric was involved in varsity strength and conditioning and research in the human performance laboratory. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

As an invited guest speaker, Eric has lectured in four countries and more than one dozen U.S. states. An accomplished author, Cressey has written three books and more than 200 articles, and co-created two DVD sets.

A record-setting competitive powerlifter himself, Cressey has deadlifted 650 pounds at a body weight of 174 and is recognized as an athlete who can jump, sprint, and lift alongside his best athletes to push them to higher levels – and keep them healthy in the process. His competition bests for the squat and bench press are 540 and 402 pounds, respectively.

Want to be More Athletic?

How does a 36-inch broad jump (standing long jump) improvement in four months sound?

“After four months, I am pleased with my results, but not completely satisfied because I know that the knowledge I’ve attained with this program will lead to continued gains for years to come. Did I get stronger? Absolutely! Do I want to continue? Most definitely! The program Eric has pulled together has inspired me to continue lifting, because it showed me results are possible if you put in effort. The program is the smartest and most fun I have completed. It’s been the best four months I’ve spent at the gym.”

Mike Czobit – Mississauga, Ontario

No change in weight, but increased broad jump by 36 inches! Also increased box squat by 40 pounds, bench press by 15 pounds, deadlift by 50 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 10 pounds.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. John Berardi


Chapter 1: Why Stronger is Better

Chapter 2: Building Strength

Chapter 3: Maximum Strength Program Overview

Chapter 4: What to Expect

Chapter 5: Maximum Strength Warm-ups

Chapter 6: Phase 1: Foundation

Chapter 7: Phase 2: Build

Chapter 8: Phase 3: Growth

Chapter 9: Phase 4: Peak

Chapter 10: Nutrition for Maximum Strength

Chapter 11: The Muscle Between Your Ears

Chapter 12: Maximum Strength for Life

So with all this in mind, what are you waiting for?

Click here to order Maximum Strength for just $18.95 on our 100% secure server.

Don’t take it from me, though; take it from guys like Doug Adams who have experienced Maximum Strength first-hand:

“At the beginning of the Maximum Strength project, I had an idea of the type of training I wanted to do in the gym, but no concrete plan or ‘map’ for how to get there. I was completely clueless, which is why I volunteered to be a part of the test group for this program. I wanted to blindly follow a program from someone who knows what they’re doing. Do every workout, as written and on schedule, I told myself. Keeping to those words proved to be beneficial because I made great improvements in strength, technique, and most of all, attitude.

“With the attitude, there comes a sense of independence, almost to the point of non-conformity. Now I am coming to a stage in my lifting career where I am beginning to question what is told to me. I am asking myself “is this really the best thing for ME to do TODAY?” I am not going to say I have all the answers now, because I do not. I have been pointed in the right direction to where I want to go. If I happen to get a little lost along the way, I can always ask for directions.”

Doug Adams – Middle River, Maryland

Order Maximum Strength Now!

Gained 12 pounds and increased broad jump by seven inches, box squat by 25 pounds, bench press by 30 pounds, deadlift by 40 pounds, and 3-rep max chin-up by 22 pounds.

46 Responses to “Maximum Strength”

  1. Matt S Says:

    Started this program last week. Can’t wait!


    Weight: 178.5
    Age: 21
    Height: 5’11”

    Broad Jump 8’10”
    Box Squat 470
    Bench 280 (only done twice in the last year and half — finally feel like my shoulders are ready to handle this again, so numbers are low for now)
    Deadlift 450 –didn’t test on max day
    Chinup 278.5

    First two workouts went GREAT. The mobility drills really serve to get me focused. I’ll be reviewing the book on my blog (click name for link). Also, I’m journaling the experience online at

    I’ve been looking ahead, and I’m excited for what’s to come.

  2. Bobby W Says:


    Going for Round 2! Round 1, I saw an increase from 285 to 300 on Bench, a 10″ increase in Broad Jump to 8’6″, Box Squat from 325 to 375, Deadlift from 305 to 375, and increased 3-Rep Max Chinup by 35 pounds. Looking to increase the results over the next 16 weeks. I’m pumped!

  3. Eric Cressey Says:

    That’s great, Bobby! Nice work.

    I’d encourage you to check out Show and Go next; it’s a great follow-up to Maximum Strength:

  4. Julio Romon Says:

    I recently purchased your book. I think it is awesome and full of wonderful information. It has changed my way of thinking about training (not working out anymore!)and make me more happy with my goals.

    Anyway, I have a question about the pre/during/post meal. That is, what is the timing supposed to be and how much are we supposed to consume. Besides, I am having a hard time finding your recommended Biotest Surge. Is there any link to order it?

    Could not be more happy with the book, it is gold!

  5. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Julio,

    Thanks for your kind words!

    You can just start sipping that shake at the start of your training session and finish it up over the course of the workout. An hour later, have a solid food meal. You can get Surge at

    Another good option is Prograde Workout.

  6. Shane Says:

    Going to start the workout next year. Love the warm up. Been using it before my workouts and with other trainers at my gym. Already squatting deeper. Great work Eric.

  7. Tom Says:

    Hi Eric,

    Looks like a great program. Just wondering if it would be beneficial for a University baseball player like myself. Big fan!


  8. Eric Cressey Says:


    Give this a read; probably a better option:

  9. Brandon Says:

    I just started using your Maximum Strength book. In the training schedule, when exercises are listed as d1 and d2: does that mean I superset them?

    It says to alternate between them but i wasn’t sure what that meant.


  10. Eric Cressey Says:

    Yes, Brandon.

  11. Gordon Says:

    I love this program. A friend of mine suggested it after he had completed the Show and Go. I had never really lifted before and found this book to be a really helpful starting point. I am a bigger guy so some of the exercises were hard for me, such as the chin ups. Is there an alternative exercise you would suggest to the chin ups? As it is, I usually just use the machine that adds weight to help with the chin ups.

    I have gone from 270 to 260 lbs. Bench has increased from 185 to 260, box squat from ~200 to about 315 and broad jump from 66 in. to 96 in. Deadlift is about ~300.

    Thanks for a great book! I am on my second trip through it now. I look forward to Moving Day again!

  12. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Gordon,

    I prefer to just do controlled eccentrics. Basically, you jump up, and then just lower yourself under control to a count of 3-4 seconds. Another option would be to have a training partner assist you on the way up, but not the way down. This way, you get the benefit of the eccentric component of the rep a bit more.

  13. Brandon Says:

    I’ve been using your program for a few months. Is glutamine necessary? It’s not mentioned in the book.

  14. Eric Cressey Says:

    Brandon – nope, not necessary.

  15. Matthew Says:

    I’m planning on starting this program in August, but I’ll be training gymnastics on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting in the fall – just wondering if it would be OK to switch all the Wednesday sessions to Tuesdays, and double up with the workouts and gymnastics on Saturdays. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this Eric.
    Thank you for writing such a great book!

  16. John Martin Says:

    I completed the sixteen week course. but was wondering if it would be possible to stretch it to a 1 year program. i was thinking just making each week like 3 weeks. But my main point is how would i turn this into a program that is 1 year long?
    I had fantastic results in the 16 weeks.
    Bench 205-255
    Squat 295-345
    deadlift 345-385
    I was 16 when i started it and turned 17 towards the end, i maintained ranging from 170-175lbs.

  17. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi John,

    Yes, you could stretch it out further, but I’d actually recommend that you move on to Show and Go: It’s a great follow-up to Maximum Strength.

  18. Brandon Says:

    I was wondering if I could add an agility ladder workout to the program?


  19. Eric Cressey Says:


    As a warm-up, it won’t hurt.

  20. Jeff Says:

    I’m looking at the phase one workout, week one. The deadlifts are 8×2…is this 8 sets of 2? If so, what’s the goal of a two rep set?

  21. Eric Cressey Says:


    Give this a read:

  22. Rune G Says:

    I just bought this book, and I am extremly eager to give it a go! Too bad that it takes about a month before I have it (living in Norway…)

  23. Eric Cressey Says:

    Enjoy, Rune!

  24. Ryan Says:


    I have bought Maximum Strength and am very exectied to get started. I am confused however on whether if and when I should be adding more weight to my lifts? Can you give me some guidance? Thanks!

  25. Eric Cressey Says:


    You should add weight when you can complete all the reps in perfect form – and feel like you could have done more if you had continued. The goal is to get stronger, so don’t be shy about increasing the load from week to week. Just don’t make huge jumps, and try to avoid missing lifts.

  26. Kyle Farmer Says:

    Hi Eric, I just recently recieved your book and I was wondering what percentages do I start with for each lift? Also will I still get volume?

  27. Eric Cressey Says:


    No percentages. Just focus on learning the technique and gradually build up the load on the bar. You’ll find that working with percentages becomes “outdated” really quickly, as you’ll be getting stronger and stronger with each passing training session.

  28. Adam Says:

    Hi Eric,
    Purchased the book and started training a few days ago, but I am a little confused as to what I am supposed to do with the numbers next to the letters in the training schedule. The books says “alternate between these two exercises,” but does that mean alternate in a super set, or should I do “D1″ in week one, and switch to “D2″ in week two, then alternate back to “D1″ in week three and so on? Thanks in advance.

  29. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Adam,

    Yes, it’s a superset. Good luck with the program!

  30. Naresh Says:

    Hi Eric,

    What kind of equipment are we looking at for the program, apart from the basic ones-dumbbells, barbells and cable pulleys?


  31. Eric Cressey Says:


    That should get the job done!  Bands and foam rollers are nice, too.

  32. Naresh Says:


    Quick one: The way you’ve defined each week as High, Medium, Very High and Low indicate only the no. of sets for each week respectively, right? We can add more weight each week, which would ideally mean lifting the heaviest weight for an exercise in the Low Workload (fourth week)?


  33. Eric Cressey Says:


    Yes, definitely increase intensity if you can!  The goal IS to get stronger!

  34. Reeco Stewart Says:

    Hi Eric. I am a Highschool rugby player and I am going on to play university rugby next year. I baught your book and I found it very helpfull in increasing my strength and performance on the field. My question is whether or not I should use show and go, or the high performance hand book? Which one do you suggest for me to get bigger and stronger for rugby? Or should I go with the ultimate off season? Thank you.

  35. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Reeco,

    I’d definitely use the High Performance Handbook, as it’s more up-to-date.

  36. Taisa Says:

    Hi Eric,
    I recently purchased your Maximum Strength book and I am on the first week of phase 1.
    I’ve been an avid lifter, but was curious if this program can be used by females as well. Im certain that it can be, but I wanted to hear your opinion on this. Thanks!

  37. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Taisa,

    Thanks for your order.  It ABSOLUTELY can be used by females.  We’ve had a lot of women go through the program with great success.  Good luck!


  38. Pat Says:

    Hi Eric,

    I’m just about to start stage 3 of the book and am really enjoying it. My only issue is my gym has no incline barbell set up. I used a smith machine for last months workout and that was fine but for this month I can see a few issues arising. I was thinking of continuing with the smith for the incline close grip and then supplementing weighted dips for decline barbell, sound ok to you?

    Secondly I’m about to start working with Andy Morgan with a view to Intermittent Fasting and would be interested to hear your thoughts on his qualities as a coach.

    Cheers and keep up the great work,


  39. Eric Cressey Says:


    I’m not a big fan of the Smith machine; I’d rather see you just use DBs instead.

    Andy’s great!  Highly recommend.

  40. Pat Says:

    Cheers Eric,

    Thanks for the feedback. I have to say unracking and reracking on front squats is tough on the shoulder/collarbones!

    Also thanks for the positive response re Andy, he certainly seems legit but unless you meet someone face to face there’s always an element of chance.

    Wishing you all the very best mate!

  41. Ryan Says:


    Looking at ordering this book, I have anterior tilt and hip is a little raised on one side, bit of back stiffness. Would this program help build the necessary muscles to correct my posture?

  42. Eric Cressey Says:

    I’d actually recommend The High Performance Handbook, as it’s more up-to-date and offers more individualization that should really help.

  43. Rachel Says:

    Hey Eric!

    Question. I’ve used two of Matt Fitzgerald’s books while training for marathons and am looking for a book to aid me developing better strength for endurance runs. I’m a bit leery of strength training books because they are often geared toward men and adding physique “bulk”, which as you know can be a detriment for endurance runners. Would there be certain exercises in this book that I should stay away from as a female runner? Many thanks, Eric!

  44. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I’d actually probably recommend The High Performance Handbook instead ( You’d do better with the 2x/week strength training program included in it, as the Maximum Strength is four lifts per week, which would be too much with your endurance training schedule.

  45. Dave Sivertson Says:

    Hi Eric,

    I picked up Max Strength a couple of years ago and did fine until I deadlifted poorly and strained my lower back. After that I stuck to squash/racquetball until I started having too many aches/pains.(I will start again when I hit 225lbs)
    I finally am losing weight down to 230lbs from 257lbs three months ago (Thanks to the book- The Calorie Myth)I have been lifting weights 2x week for the past 5 months. Some of the exercises from your book with a few I picked up from Jeff Caveliere (on YouTube).
    I am 57 years old, 6’7″ tall, 230lbs.After 5 months: 21 push-ups, 175 bench x 8, 85 curl x 8, 25 captain chairs & 60 second plank.
    So all that brings me to my question: I would like more structure to my program so I am developing in a balanced manner.
    1.) I thought I might repeat Maximum Strength and maybe make some mod’s (deadlift from the rack, etc)
    2.) I saw your Show & Go system and was wondering if that might be a better option?
    3.) I also saw your High Performance Handbook
    4.) I thought I might make the drive from Cincinnati to Indianapolis to get an assessment and program from Mike Robertson.

    Goals- I would like to get down to 210lbs and have a strong/balanced body. I have young boys (9 & 11) and I’d like to keep up with them and set a good example.

    Sorry for the long message- any thoughts/suggestions you have will be appreciated.

    Best regards,

  46. Eric Cressey Says:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your post. If you have the finances to do so, I’d definitely recommend heading up to see Robertson, as they do a great job. That said, if you can’t make it, I’d go with Mike’s Bulletproof Athlete Program, followed by The High Performance Handbook. It’d set a good foundation in place.

    Thanks for your business, and good luck!



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