BioJacked #3: Mad Max Aita

Max (“Mad Max”) Aita, young up-and-coming weight-lifting coach who trained under (and lived with!) Ivan Abadjiev, came to the studio this past Tuesday with one simple message: try harder.

Given all of the YouTube videos, magazine articles compelling you to try “killer exercises you aren’t doing yet”, run-away theories repeated until they become dogma, where’s a beginning lifter to turn?

In this conversation, Aita draws from his experiences with Ivan Abadjiev, the mastermind behind the success of the Bulgarian weight-lifters, and extols the virtues of keeping it simple in a world of self-made “experts” and sensationalized exercises. He’s also got a lot more female lifters in his training with him than men at this point, so we were interested to hear his perspective on what differences there are (in any) between the genders when it comes to Olympic coaching.

And as usual, we hold our guest hostage while we answer some questions posted in the DH forums for this episode. We got some great stuff out of Kiefer about alcohol this time, as well as a question I regret airing.

Download Part 1 (59 mins, 54MB)

Download Part 2 (37 mins, 36MB)

Part One: Max Aita Preaches Simplicity (and Qs from the DH Forums)

  • 00:00 Introducing Max Aita… Regrets of the (slightly) older and wiser.
  • 05:15 The value of finding PEOPLE to teach you (rather than learning from videos on the internet).
  • 08:00 The fall of T-Nation…
  • 11:00 Analysis Paralysis.
  • 14:30 Max talks about living with and training under Ivan Abadjiev.

    “The most shocking thing about that whole experience [was]… how unsophisticated they really are.” –Max Aita

  • 17:30 Kiefer compares to how he trained Brian Carroll — “simple”.
  • 19:30 Freaks! We talk about our favorite mutant, Ricki LaRocca, a “true freak of nature”.
  • 20:30 Avoiding “Rube Goldberg” training routines. (What truly matters for training?)
  • 22:45 Abadjiev – “Everything comes from your mind.” The importance of mental toughness.
  • 28:00 How has the Internet changed people’s attitudes towards training? Prevalence of “expert” videos, etc
  • 34:45 Should people training for aesthetics ever do hang cleans, or just stick to rows and shrugs?
  • 37:30 Periodization for weight-lifting?
  • 41:30 Why do you see so many big and pudgy powerlifters but hardly any “overweight” Olympic lifters?
  • 45:30 What’s the difference between a deadlift movement for a weight-lifter and a deadlift movement for a powerlifter?
  • 49:15 As a beginning weight-lifter, how should you train to work up to full cleans?
  • 52:30 Any drill suggestions for developing a strong second pull?

Part Two

  • 1:15 Max talks about opening his new not-really-a-gym.
  • 5:00 Why doesn’t Max post videos demonstrating lifts? (What makes an “expert”…)
  • 8:30 “It’s the difference between having a recipe and being the cook.” –Kiefer
  • 11:00 Max comments on training female lifters (see
  • 17:00 Choosing your clients carefully makes a huge difference in attitude and mental environment.
  • 19:30 As soon as you’re the strongest guy in the gym, you should find a new place to hang out.
  • 21:00 The caricature that is CrossFit (Kiefer insists on flogging an undead horse).
  • 23:15 The Alcohol question (when? how much? should it be hard alcohol or otherwise?) — VERY interesting, complicated answer.

    “Alcohol is the single most potent anti-T chemical that we know of.” –Kiefer

  • 30:15 How would one get back on track after a night of binge drinking?
  • 31:00 Please rate the following online experts… (“Whoa, we’ve got a lot of ties for last place there.” –Kiefer) [For the record, I regret airing this question! –Naomi]
  • 33:00 Kiefer announces “The 5-3-1 Challenge”
  • 35:00 Announcements of interview guests for the next 3 weeks…


Ed Coan, US Powerlifter
Ricki LaRocca, Strongman competitor, trainer, mutant freak (and friend)

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