Maxing out at the gym and doing drop sets is one way to train your body for building size and for truly figuring out where you stand on strength. Maxing out simply means that you are giving your all on whatever workout you are doing and that is your maximum limit. Drop sets are incorporated within maxing out usually to help you build size by tearing more muscle. Maxing out at the gym can help you be more efficient as well if you do not have too much time during the week to workout but at the same time it is equally as difficult as any other training technique that gives you the same results.
My Methods of Maxing
I like to slowly build my way up towards my max set instead of going balls to the wall on my first try. For example: for bench press, I would usually do a light weight for ten to twelve reps *(something that I can easily do without much trouble or a spotter)*, then I would move on to heavier weight for eight to ten reps *(for this I would like to have the spotter behind me but not helping at this point)*, and then finally I'll add what I think my maximum amount of weight I can lift with an aim of doing six reps *(now I have the spotter holding the bar just in case of failure)*. If it turns out that I can do six reps, now I know that I can move up for next weeks workout.
For this method instead of doing only three sets with about twelve reps, I like to do many sets of about 3 reps and eventually I'll reach my max limit. The rule here for me is, if I can do 3 reps then I have to move up in weight. Once I can't do three reps I know that is my max limit. An example I can use that works perfect for this is dumbbell press. I will usually start at 50 pound dumbbells, and would either move up by 5 pounds or 10 pounds until I reach my max limit which last time I did this was 90 pounds. The reps early on will act as a warm up reps and the rest will act as prepping you for the max weight you can lift.
This last method is a bit more intense than the previous methods and incorporates drop sets which is the topic I will cover in more detail next week. This method is called Reverse Pyramid Training or RPT for short. Unlike the first two methods mentioned above, you will be working your way down in weight instead of up. There really is no warm up other than stretching before hand. To start out, you pick the max weight you know you can do, and do that until failure. The sets that follow that, will be you dropping a bit of weight on what you are doing and do the same amount of reps plus one or two more. You do this until your no longer able to do anything or until the weight becomes too easy to lift.
Maxing out at the gym is one way you can build up muscle mass and help you with strength gains. It is challenging even for those who are mid level and higher level weight lifters and if you find your workouts too easy to do, then try working out like this to give yourself a bit more of a challenge. One word of caution though, if you are planning on maxing out for your workouts and using any of these methods, then rest is the most important thing you have to follow. It is ok to workout two body parts during the week following these methods but since your pushing your muscles to their limits, then it is advisable to only workout those body parts one time a week for them to be able to recover or at the very least give them about 48 to 72 hours to allow them time to heal.