Max Adaptation Upper Lower (MAUL) Workout

Max Adaptation Upper Lower (MAUL) Workout

Written By: Alain Gonzalez, June 1st, 2016,
Updated: June 13th, 2020


Sigma Labs Deadlifts
This workout combines the main mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy to help you build some serious muscle. Try this split to put on quality summer mass!
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration12 weeks
  • Days Per Week 5
  • Time Per Workout45-60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target GenderMale & Female

Workout Description

The MAUL program is based on the time tested, proven principles of strength and muscle growth.

This 5 day routine is strategically designed to produce adaptations using the 2 main mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy: mechanical tension and muscle damage.1

What is Mechanical Stress?

Mechanically induced tension produced both by force generation and stretch. This stress is typically formed when lifting at a high intensity (i.e. 1-5 repetitions). Mechanical stress has been shown to produce the greatest increases in strength.2

What Is Muscle Damage? 

Localized damage to muscle tissue which generates a hypertrophic response.

The tension necessary to produce this result is typically found in the 8-12 rep range – where intensity is still relatively high, but due to the higher volume, the muscle is placed under tension for a prolonged period of time.

What is Undulating Periodization?

Varying your rep ranges and/or intensity from session to session has been shown to produce greater strength gains than the traditional linear periodization model.3

The method by which the program works is quite simple; the stress produced by your mechanical tension training days will increase strength. The adaptations from your heavier lifting days will then allow you be stronger in your hypertrophy training – allowing for even more muscle damage (which creates muscle growth).

More muscle mass equals more strength – and thus it becomes a vicious cycle of gains.

What is Volume?

Volume is represented by the equation (Sets x Reps x Weight Lifted = Total Volume).

The research has made it very clear that the most critical pathway to building new muscle is progressive overload.4 The simplest and most practical way to achieve progressive overload is through increasing your total volume .

This can be accomplished by performing more reps without sacrificing the intensity, or increasing the intensity (weight used) without sacrificing the volume (sets x reps).

In this program the goal for progression with your main lifts (e.g. bench press, overhead press, deadlift, and squat) will be the latter. However, when it comes to smaller isolation or auxiliary movements (e.g. bicep curls, pushdowns, etc.), the former may be a more viable method (more on that later).

What is Intensity?

Intensity is the amount of physical power the body uses to perform a lift. A 2002 study conducted on 32 men compared low, moderate, and high rep training.5

The low and moderate rep groups produced significantly more hypertrophy than the high rep group – proving the importance of training at a higher intensity when strength and muscle growth are the goal.

What is Training Induced MPS?

The synthesis of muscle protein is essential to the body’s ongoing growth, repair, and maintenance of its skeletal muscle. Studies suggest that muscle protein synthesis is more than doubled at about 24 hours following an intense training bout.6

Muscle protein synthesis then begins to drop back to baseline at about the 36 hour mark.

Take for example an athlete who trains his chest directly, 1 time per week: he’ll elevate muscle protein synthesis just 1 time (see the chart below).

MAUL Training Chest Chart 1

For an athlete who trains with using a higher frequency program like MAUL, he will bench press 2 times throughout the week, elevating protein synthesis twice as much as the athlete who trained his chest just once (see the chart below).

MAUL Training Chest Chart 2

What is The Repeated Bout Effect?

Research has demonstrated that when we train a muscle group more frequently (to a degree) it increases our ability to recover and adapt. This is known as the repeated bout effect.7 More efficient recovery and adaptation makes for: extended progression without a plateau, linear strength increases, and more overall muscle growth.

what method of Progression do we use?

The method of progression with the heavier compound lifts is simple: increase the weight slightly, each week, without sacrificing volume. 

With the accessory lifts, you’ll notice there is a repetition range (i.e. 10-12). The goal is to complete each set, for the higher end of the prescribed reps. Once you’ve accomplished that, increase the weight slightly and repeat.

If you fall short, continue next week using the same weight and aim to outperform your last performance.

Repeat that until you’ve managed to hit every set for the high end of the prescribed reps.

Day 1 Upper Body Mechanical Stress
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Bench Press 3 5
2. Incline Dumbbell Press 3 6
3. Rack Pulls 3 5
4. Seated Row 3 8-10
5. Overhead Press 3 6
6. Barbell Shrug 3 6-8
7. Barbell Curl 3 8-10
8. Close Grip Bench Press 3 8-10
Day 2 Lower Body Mechanical Stress
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Squat 3 5
2. Leg Press 3 6
3. Stiff-Legged Deadlift 3 8-10
4. Hamstring Curl 3 10-12
5. Calf Raise 3 10-12
Day 3 Upper Body [a] Muscle Damage
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Deadlift 2 5
2. Bench Press 3 10
3. Cable Cross-Over (Low to High) 4 12-15
4. Bent Barbell Rows 4 10-12
5. Lat Pulldown 4 12-15
6. Barbell Shrug 4 10-12
Day 4 Upper Body [b] Muscle Damage
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Overhead Press 3 10
2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2 12
3. Lateral Raise 4 12-15
4. Face Pull 4 12-15
5. Barbell Curl 4 10-12
6. Incline Curl 4 12-15
7. Rope Pushdown 4 10-12
8. Overhead Triceps Extension 4 12-15
Day 5 Lower Body Muscle Damage
Exercise Sets Reps
1. Squat 3 10
2. Leg Press 3 12
3. Leg Extension 4 10-12
4. Hamstring Curl 4 10-12
5. Calf Raise 3 10-12

Direct abdominal training is recommended but not required. Feel free to include direct ab training after your workouts or on rest days.

  1. Shoenfeld, BJ. 2010. The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24(10):2857-72
  2. Shoenfeld, BJ. 2014. Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 28(10):2909-18
  3. Rhea, MR. 2002. A comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated volume and intensity for strength. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16(2):250-5
  4. Goldberg AL, Etlinger JD, Goldspink DF, Jablecki C. 1975. Mechanism of work-induced hypertrophy of skeletal muscle. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 7(3):185-98
  5. Campose, GE. 2002. Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 88(1-2):50-60
  6. MacDougall, JD. 1995. The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. 20(4):480-6
  7. McHugh, MP. 2003. Recent advances in the understanding of the repeated bout effect: the protective effect against muscle damage from a single bout of eccentric exercise. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 13(2):88-97

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