60 second pitch:
Sick of overtraining? Hate the restrictiveness of cookie-cutter programs? Enter myo-reps, a method of training that allows one to instinctively regulate training volume while making huge gains. Being a method, it can be used with any exercise that can be performed safely close to or at one’s fatigue threshold.
With Myo-reps, you only perform a single set for each exercise. Comprising an activation set, followed by multiple bursts of myo-reps. By keeping rest periods short between myo-reps, we enable high muscle activation even with light loads.
This allows us to safely and effectively find a training sweet-spot to maximise long-term strength and muscular gains.
Alright, up next is the elaboration. But before we get to that, let me say that I am not the creator of Myo-reps. Everything here is my personal opinion, and subject to the information and experience of the author at the time of writing. This is not a summary of Myo-reps. This is a primer, based off the experience of one person.
Because Myo-reps is a method, it’s use in various training programs can vary tremendously. I’ve provided just a few examples, and if you want to know all about Myo-reps, check out the what the creator of Myo-reps, Børge Fargeli, has to say at his website myrevolution.no, and his four articles on Myo-reps.
A final caveat, is that beginners need not (and should not) implement a strategy like Myo-reps. This should be used for intermediate-level trainees with at least 1 year training experience. That is when gains start slowing down, especially for the genetically average trainee. That’s when we need to step up our game.
With those caveats in mind, let’s proceed.
Myo-reps can lead to great gains, but to newcomers, it is a novel system that takes getting used to.
This article serves as a non-technical primer, but it is still fairly lengthy. Hence, it is split into three distinct sections, which can be read independently of each other, but benefit from reading in succession. They are as follows:
Section 1: The Need for Auto-Regulation
Whether you’re training for a sport, or training for muscular size, one simple fact remains: You must get stronger over time.
Training harder doesn’t necessarily net you better results. In fact, training balls-to-walls on a frequent basis will simply cause burn-out in most (genetically average) trainees. 
On the other hand, recent research has shown that there is a training “sweet spot”. Those who trained in this sweet spot, not taking it too easy, and not pushing it too hard, were the ones that made the best progress over time.
What’s more, this training sweet spot seems to vary. Some days you feel like crap, and other days who feel like destroying everything in a 2-mile radius. In other words, training to this sweet spot is done by feel.
This is the principle of auto-regulation. You don’t decide in advance how much weight to push or how many reps to do. Instead, you gauge how far to push yourself based on how you feel, the performance of previous sets, and the performance of the current set.
Why Utilise Myo-reps
It turns out that this isn’t any big secret. Almost every advanced trainee comes upon a revelation some time which leads up to this principle of auto-regulation. From the crazy Bulgarians and their daily squatting regime, to respected figures like Glenn Pendlay, we see auto-regulation in action.
The reason that I like Myo-reps, is because first, it’s proven to be effective with many people. Second, it’s a very time efficient system, usually taking half to two-thirds the time of regular training protocols.
More importantly, it’s a very easy system to implement. A trainee can easily get up to speed with Myo-reps within a few workouts (1-2 weeks). It also bears semblance to more traditional methods of training. This makes the system easy to follow.
Section 2: The Method
I’ll distill this to the bare minimum. For more info, check out the Myo-reps article series mentioned above.
A Myo-rep set consists of an activation set, and then successive sets of Myo-reps.
The activation set should be done close to, but not to failure. You should have 1 more rep in you after stopping. So if you could do 8 reps max, you stop at 7.
This is what we called a rating of perceived exhaustion (RPE) of 9. An RPE of 10 would then refer to a max effort, while an RPE of 8 would refer to a walk-in-the-park set.
This is where you need to “guess” and “feel” your way to know how far you should be pushing yourself. One way is to monitor rep speed. The moment it takes twice the average amount of time to complete a rep, you stop. So for example, a scenario with the leg press using 500lbs:
You’ve done 9 reps, each rep before this was explosive, and you got the weight up in 1 second. On the 10th rep, you feel it is a little harder, but still pretty smooth. On the 11th rep, the weight is starting to move slower. On the 12th rep, it takes 2 seconds for the weight to move up. You stop.
The added sets are what makes the Myo-reps system unique. After the activation set, what you do is rest for a brief period, and then do a set of Myo-reps.
By doing this, we keep muscle fibre activation very high, while managing fatigue instinctively, leading to the aforementioned benefits.
For example, let’s say you’ve done 12 reps of the leg press as above. Take 10 deep breaths. Do 3 more reps. 10 deep breaths. 3 more reps. 10 deep breaths. 3 more reps. 10 deep breaths. 3 more reps with the 3rd rep being really hard. Stop
We write in our Training Log:
Leg Press: 500lbs x 12 + 3×4
How many myo-reps you use and how many sets of such is determined by feel. In general we try to hit these rep ranges (taken from part 2 of the Myo-reps series mentioned above)
20-25 reps – 5 reps on Myo-reps series, 2-5 breathing pause – notation 20-25 5 x
15-20 reps – 5 reps on Myo-reps range, 5-10 breath pause – notation 15-20 5 x
12-15 reps – 4 reps on Myo-reps range, 5-10 breath pause – notation 12-15 4 x
9-12 reps – 3 reps on Myo-reps range, 10-15 breaths break – notation 9.12 x 3
6-9 reps – 1 or 2 reps on Myo-reps range, 15-20 breaths break – Notation 6.9 or 2 x 9.6 x
Each deep breath is about 2 seconds. But there are no hard and fast rules.
Take shoulder pressing, an exercise which I find is very sensitive to various factors. On a good day, I would do:
50kg x 12 + 4×3 (resting 10 breaths in between sets)
On a bad day, I’d do:
50kg x 10 + 3×2 (resting 15 breaths in between sets)
This sort of training takes a different kind of discipline. You need to know how to hold back.
When you begin a set, you don’t psyche yourself up like you would a competition lift.
When you start the exercise, you do it with consistent form.
You ask yourself after every, single rep, “How does this feel?”
You don’t ask why. Sometimes you may enter a workout feeling fresh, but fail miserably in your work sets. Let the weights have their way with you, and you’ll progress faster.
You treat training as practice.
The amount of reps can vary tremendously. If you feel like you can do +6 reps instead of +5, do it. If you think you’ll only manage +3 reps instead of +4, then do it. Heck sometimes you’d only manage +3 when you did +5 previously. Auto-regulate.
Myo-reps work better with higher reps. Anything above 8 reps, and probably more.
Rest periods can vary, but generally fall between 10-15 breaths for anything below 15 reps, and 5-10 breaths for anything above 15 reps. Either way, don’t sweat it. After some experience (2 months), trust yourself to figure it out.
Do also note that different exercises may demand different rest periods and number of Myo-reps. For myself, I find that I can do pulldowns with very little rest in between, but with dips, I’ve got to take a little longer to recuperate.
Personally, I find the 9-12 rep range the most troublesome, but by far the most rewarding. It’s in the sweet spot between a tension and volume stimulus. The weight is heavy enough to get the high of moving heavy shit, and light enough to get a good pump. It is definitely a good range to be working in, and many people have reported liking myo-reps in this rep-range.
However, there’s always a trade off. In this case, when you feel good, it’s really good. But when you feel bad, it gets really bad. On some days, I’d get 10 reps + 4×3. On other days, I’d get 10 reps + 3×2.
When you enter a workout feeling crappy, one solution I have, is to avoid doing Myo-reps in this rep range, and instead do drop sets. You can even decide on the fly. Sometimes I’d intended to get 11 reps, but felt like crap on the 9th rep. I’d then drop the weights and proceed to do a single drop set.
This still ensures that I’d get a substantial training effect. More importantly, I could tell myself that I still “got work done”, preventing me from trying to push on (to my detriment).
Section 3: Using Myo-reps in a program
Note that Myo-reps is a method. Hence, we can apply it to almost any program and many exercises.
First, because of the nature of Myo-reps, some exercises shouldn’t be practiced. Because you’re working pretty close to failure, with very short rests, squatting is probably going to be a bad idea.
In general, avoid big compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, cleans, etc. Work those in the traditional low rep ranges.
More specifically, you’ve got to first determine whether you can perform the exercise with good form near the point of exhaustion for multiple sets. After that, you’ve got to assess the risk of a major mishap when performing the exercise. Don’t forget that doing Myo-reps with such short rest periods is going to be quite a stressor to the cardiovascular system, more so with heavy compounds. Be sensible here, and back off when in doubt.
An example of a basic, pure myo-reps program across 4 days a week with a 2-split is:
- Decline Bench Press, 1 set + myos
- Chest-supported Row, 1 set + myos
- Shoulder Press, 1 set + myos
- Pulldowns, 1 set + myos
- Leg Press, 1 set + myos
- Calf Raises, 1 set + myos
- RDLs, 1 set + myos
- Curls, 1 set + myos
- JM Press, 1 set + myos
That’s it. 1 set per body-part, with 2 for back. If this looks interesting, check out Myo-reps part 4 for the full details.
An easier way to incorporate Myo-reps is to use them with your supplementary or assistance exercises, which are typically done in the higher rep ranges. For example, a workout for chest and back:
Bench Press: 3 sets of 5
Chest Flyes: 15-20 + 5x
Chins: 3 sets of 5
DB rows: 15-20 + 5x
That about wraps it up for this short section. I’d encourage you to give Myo-reps a try with a single set of exercises, and then access from there. If you’re really bold, even consider jumping into the basic edition mentioned in the Myo-reps Part 4 article.
Remember that Myo-reps is simply one way to implement auto-regulation in your training. Let this be your first step into the revolution.
 Genetics matter, and those of larger structure tend to handle all-out training to failure much better. See ‘Training to Failure, a Look inside’ for details
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