If you’re pressed for time at the gym, but want to pack some quality training volume into your session, what do you do? Most lifters will reach for supersets, which are an excellent option for speeding up workouts. But that two-tiered approach isn’t the only tool that you can use to get in quality work at a faster pace.
This is where Myo-Reps come in. Myo-Reps are a fantastic training technique that every lifter should keep in their training toolbox for occasions when they’re pressed for time and still want to put in some quality work. I sometimes use the protocol in my own workouts, or in my work with the clients I train with my own program.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about Myo-Reps: what they are, how to use them, and why they can be beneficial for your training goals.
What Are Myo-Reps?
Myo-Reps are a training protocol that Norwegian strength coach Borge Fagerli popularized in the mid-2000s. Essentially, the term describes a rep scheme and training methodology that attempts to limit “junk volume”, a.k.a. training volume that we wouldn’t necessarily regard as effective for hypertrophy (muscle-building) gains.
When working to increase muscular hypertrophy, we know not all reps are created equal. So, by working to limit “junk volume” from our workouts, we can accrue more effective training volume in a timely manner.
In training speak, Myo-Reps are a variation of rest-pause training and they work off of specific parameters when structuring their format. These parameters—which we’ll discuss in more detail below—help create a framework for Myo-Reps that lifters from all walks of life can then use to contextually apply this methodology to their training.
How to Use Myo-Reps
Before using and implementing Myo-Reps, I recommend keeping two thoughts in mind. First, Myo-Reps work best for accessory movements and single-joint exercises. Ideally, we want to select exercises that we can push for higher reps and intensities without too much technical breakdown.
Second, unless you’re using them in a pinch, it’s usually a good idea to use Myo-Reps for a few weeks or a full training cycle. This will provide you with a better means for tracking progress and dialing in the weight you choose to use.
How to Set Up a Workout With Myo-Reps
For this example, we’re going to use a leg extension as the model. You can then the framework below to the context of your program and goals.
Set 1: “Activation Set” | Leg Extension 1 x 20 reps | 0 to 1 Reps In Reserve
The first Myo-Rep set is called the “activation set”. This set will be a higher rep set that is taken close to failure to—ideally—recruit more muscle fibers heading into the preceding sets. You can use a variety of rep goals here, but I often use 16 or 20.
Since we’re tackling a higher rep set, we also need to scale our intensity back accordingly. Fagerli recommends that beginners, intermediates, and advanced athletes scale their loading for the exercise they’re choosing to do as such:
After your activation set, you’ll rest for three to five deep breaths which usually equates to about 15 to 30 seconds, then proceed into sets 2 to 5.
Sets 2 to 5: Mini-Sets | Leg Extension 5 reps
The sets following the “activation set” will be smaller and we’ll use our breaths to track our rest times in-between them. Ideally, we want to aim for five total sets that are about 25 percent of the activation set, so in our example of 20 reps, we’d work to hit 5-rep mini-sets after.
In reality, you can aim to hit anywhere between 3 to 5 reps for the mini-sets if you don’t wish to use the 25 percent rep scheme
You’ll stop your mini-sets due to two different hard stop criteria.
Remember, Myo-Reps can technically be applied to pretty much any exercise, but a coach and lifter should use strategy when implementing them, and not just program them to haphazardly do so. Use the parameters above to provide structure to your Myo-Rep sets.
Benefits of Training With Myo-Reps
There are multiple benefits that come along with Myo-Rep sets and the benefits will ebb and flow based on your contextual training goals and needs
1. Quality Volume In Limited Time
As mentioned above, Myo-Rep sets are awesome for saving time and keeping quality training volume high. Muscular hypertrophy focused training can take ample time, especially as we scale training volume higher. Myo-Reps are a useful tool for pushing this adaptation further while in time-limited situations.
2. Challenge and Depth of Training
Another useful benefit of Myo-Rep training is the fact that they can provide lifters with a unique physical and mental challenge. It’s important as a lifter to push yourself in different ways, both with your body and your brain, and Myo-Rep sets are great for doing that. Plus, understanding this training protocol can add to the depth of your lifting toolbox.
If you’re pressed on time or just want to try a new training protocol, give Myo-Reps a try. They can be the difference between a good workout and a great one, expanding your training horizon and bringing you even more gains to accomplish your goals.
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