The initial concept used by Mattel to explain Max's enhanced abilities was named "Going Turbo!". It was present in all episodes of the TV series and the first two movies, and all Max Steel's merchandising and advertisements.
The basis of Going Turbo! was explained as thus: Josh McGrath's body has two bracelets grafted onto it, one on his left wrist, the other on his left ankle. These devices are named Bio-Links and can be used as a communications device, a way to record and broadcast Max's activities. Max also uses them to manipulate the nanoprobes inside his body, which grants him his superpowers. By activating the Bio-Link, Max can become invisible or receive an instant rush of energy, which allows him to move faster and be stronger than any other human for a short period of time. It is not clear for how long the rush lasts, but after it, Max seems unaffected, and can reuse it over and over, receiving new bursts of sudden power every time he activates the Bio-Link.
The use of the "Going Turbo!" power caused some controversy. Max Steel detractors stated that the temporal "injection" of power could be interpreted as a metaphor for the use of steroids or other illegal substances, and that the TV show was inadvertently promoting drugs consumption. This idea was reinforced by the fact that Max Steel is an extreme sports athlete, at a time when the use of drugs among sportsmen were a constant public issue.
To remove the negative connotations of "Going Turbo!," in 2006, Mattel made the decision to impose major changes on Max Steel. In the 2007 movie Countdown, Max's body starts to reject the nanoprobes. The nanomachines can no longer feed from external chemical resources and a new source of natural energy must be found before Max dies.
Taking advantage of the same concept which initially caused the problem, it was stated that since Max is a sportsman, he generates a lot of adrenaline, particularly when participating in a challenging sport. The natural adrenaline of Max's body is then redirected to the nanoprobes, creating the Adrenalink. The major difference between this and "Going Turbo!" is that Max does not receive a sudden burst of infinite energy. Instead, since the probes use the natural adrenaline generated by Max's body while making a physical effort, the more challenging the task, the more adrenaline is generated, so the probes are capable to boost Max's energy only as a result of exhaustive and constant exertion. The energy boost takes time to charge, since it draws from Max's physical activity. If he stops or pauses, the adrenaline levels of his body return to normal.
The 2007 advertising campaign was totally based on the Adrenalink concept. Mattel included a Thumbs-up! ecological green logo in the front of the toy's packages, accompanied by the slogan "More courage equals more power!". This logo was present from the beginning on all N-Tek related characters, scenarios and accessories, but its meaning was not explained until it was adopted as the Adrenalink image. The main Max Steel logo was also changed from yellow to green, and retains that color today. The TV ads also included the catch phrases: "Max Steel's power does not comes from an external source, but from within!" and "The bigger the risk, more adrenaline Max generates!". In the end, Adrenalink works in the same fashion as "Going Turbo!," but makes clear that no questionable substances are used, and insists that Max's healthy workout is the source of his power.
For 2009, the company decided to return to the initial "Going Turbo!" concept, but combined it with certain aspects of Adrenalink. Simply called Turbo! This time, the Bio-Link is used to activate the Turbo state by voice commands. The nanoprobes act as rechargeable batteries, holding the energy inside Max's body until needed. When activated, Max receives a sudden rush of power for a few seconds. After exhausting the energy, Max needs to recharge again, connecting the Bio-Link to a recharge device.
In the 2013 series of Max Steel, Max has an Ultralink named "Steel" that, in the first episode, creates a suit once he has come together with Max. Steel can make it appear as if Max is wearing his regular "fashion" (as Steel calls it). Steel allows Max to turn into different Turbo modes. Some are "Turbo Strength" and "Turbo Flight". It is unknown why they introduced this robot (Ultralink) Steel.