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MYO-REP Training Guide | What Is It, Benefits, and How to Use Them

MYO-REP training is a hypertrophy training method that can be really useful when you’re in a time crunch and want to change up your training. This training method relies on producing a high amount of work in a timely manner.

For example, I’ll typically program MYO-REP sets when I’m traveling and for clients who have limited time in the gym. By using MYO-REP training we can get a lot of bang for our buck with spending hours in the gym.

In this MYO-REP guide, I’ll discuss what MYO-REP training is, cover some of its benefits, and share different ways to program MYO-REP sets.

MYO-REP training entails structuring your sets in a strategic and calculated means to maximize your time in the gym and to get as many “effective hypertrophy-focused reps”as possible in an efficient means.

What Is MYO-REP Training?

MYO-REP training is a hypertrophy training method that tries to limit junk volume in a workout. The set and rep scheme utilized in MYO-REP training is designed to maximize how many effective reps you perform for hypertrophy in an efficient manner.

This training method was originally conceptualized and popularized by Borge Fagerli. When we’re training to increase muscle hypertrophy, not all volume in the gym is created equal.

For example, let’s say we’re performing some dumbbell bench press sets and our goal is hypertrophy. Reps and how effective they’ll be from a hypertrophy context will ebb and flow throughout our sets.

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The first reps in our dumbbell bench press sets will have a different impact on hypertrophy than the final reps, which are closer to task failure and recruit more muscle fibers with greater amounts of mechanical tension.

The idea behind MYO-REP training is to expedite our progress to “effective reps” while reducing our time spent in the gym performing sets. Basically, how can we get to those “effective reps” that will recruit more muscle fibers faster? That’s the goal of MYO-REP training.

How To Use MYO-REP Training

To get the most out of MYO-REP training, you need to be strategic with your programming. In my coaching opinion, you can’t use MYO-REP training effectively for every single exercise in your workout and you’ll want to be selective, and I’ll elaborate on this below.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re following the proper MYO-REP guidelines to ensure you’re getting the most of this training style versus using MYO-REP training haphazardly and getting suboptimal gains. I’ll make suggestions on this below, too.

First Set = Activation Set

The first set performed in your MYO-REP sets will be called the “Activation Set”. This is a set that’s performed for a higher volume and the goal is to take it close to task failure.

For your activation set, you’ll want to aim to hit around 20 reps at a 1-2 RIR intensity or an 8-9 RPE. This means that after your 20th rep on this first set, you could comfortably say that you could still squeak out 1-2 reps with fairly consistent and good form.

  • Set 1: 20 reps taken to 1-2 RIR/8-9 RPE

MYO-REP Training Guide

Now, you can make up your own first set rep scheme so you could do something like 15 or 25 reps, however, I’ve found 20 reps to be a really good starting point for most lifters.

When it comes to the intensity or weight used for this first set, Fagerli has recommended the following intensities to be used.

  • Beginners: 30% of 1-RM
  • Intermediates: 40% of 1-RM
  • Advanced: 50% of 1-RM

Let’s say I’m an advanced lifter performing MYO-REP sets for the leg extension. If my 1-RM on a leg extension was 200 lbs, then I would opt for hitting 20-reps around 100 lbs. 

It’s important to recognize that the weight you use should ebb and flow based on the intensity recommendations for the activation set (1-2 RIR/8-9 RPE) and that you may not perfectly align with the recommendations above as exercise selection can also influence this.

Sets 2-6: Cluster Sets

Once you’ve completed your activation set, you’ll then start performing your mini or cluster sets. The goal is to hit 3-5 cluster sets following your initial activation set.

Following your activation set, take 3-5 deep breaths or rest for 15-30 seconds. Once you’ve done this, you’ll start your first cluster set and aim to hit 5 reps.

MYO-REP Training Guide How To

After your first cluster set of 5 reps, you’ll repeat this process five more times trying to get a total of five cluster sets all performed with 5 reps each. In practice, an MYO-REP set looks like the following.

  • Activation Set: 20 reps (1-2 RIR/8-9 RPE)
    • 3-5 breaths
  • 5 reps (same weight)
    • 3-5 breaths
  • 5 reps (same weight)
    • 3-5 breaths
  • 5 reps (same weight)
    • 3-5 breaths
  • 5 reps (same weight)
    • 3-5 breaths
  • 5 reps (same weight)
    • stop

As you perform your cluster sets, you’ll want to make sure you’re performing them with the same weight that you used in your activation set and that you’re following a consistent rest scheme. If you started with 5 breaths, use that throughout.

If you’re unable to complete your full 5 reps in one of the cluster sets then STOP your MYO-REP sets there. For example, let’s say you get to your 4th cluster set and only get 3 reps. You’ll then stop there and not complete your 5th cluster set.

How To Use MYO-REP Training

The goal is to hit between 3-5 cluster sets with 5 reps each. If you’re not able to complete 3 cluster sets with 5 reps then you’ve likely taken your first activation set too heavy and you’ll want to start lighter for your next session.

MYO-REP Training Suggestions

Be Strategic With Exercise Selection

For MYO-REP sets, you’ll want to make sure you’re using mostly exercises that would be considered “single-joint” exercises as they can be easier to take to task failure without fatigue impacting form a ton.

This will allow you to get more out of the exercises you’re using for MYO-REP training and you’ll run less of a risk of injury from form breaking down due to fatigue setting in.

  • Examples of Good Exercises for MYO-REP Training
    • Leg Extension
    • Hamstring Curl
    • Bicep Curls
    • Tricep Extensions
    • Calve Raises
    • Split Squat (int/adv)
    • Leg Press (int/adv)
  • Examples of Exercises to Pass On for MYO-REP Training
    • Overhead Press
    • Back Squat
    • Deadlifts
    • Barbell Bench Press

Coach’s Note: You can technically use MYO-REP sets for any exercise, but I find single-joint or exercises that are more isolated with their intent tend to work better.

It Will Take a Few Weeks to Dial In Your Programming

When you first start using MYO-REP sets it’s normal to over and undershoot your intensities for the first few weeks. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit 5 perfect cluster sets in your first week or two using MYO-REP training.

Use Your Cluster Set Volume to Dictate Progression

When using MYO-REP sets, I’ll use my cluster volume to dictate my weekly progressions. If I’m able to hit all 5 cluster sets for 5 reps, then I’ll increase weight for the following week.

If I miss reps or cluster sets one week then I’ll keep the same weight for the following week and aim to hit all 5 cluster sets before increasing the load I’m using. This methodology gives you a better means of tracking progress.

Tension and Effort Are King

As you perform your cluster sets, try to keep a smooth tempo throughout your sets. If the weight feels light for you in your cluster sets, and you think you may have taken your activation set too lightly then add pauses and slow down your tempo to increase your total time under tension.

Activation Set Reps Can Vary

Again, you can choose whatever rep scheme you want for your activation set and you don’t have to necessarily use 20 reps. I like that rep goal as a starting point, however, I’d suggest getting creative.

That said, whatever rep amount you use for your activation set, try to stay consistent with that for a few weeks at a time so you can more accurately track your weekly progress.

Don't Be Afraid to Be Creative

Don’t feel limited to using the activation and cluster set rep scheme that I used in this article. You can technically alter your MYO-REP sets however you want as long as there’s logic behind your choice and you’re pushing close to task failure in a means that’s easy to track and progress with.

MYO-REP Benefits

When programming and using MYO-REP sets, there are a few benefits that I like to keep in mind and language to my clients and lifters.

Benefit 1: Great for Saving Time In the Gym

The first and arguably biggest benefit of MYO-REP training is that it can be an awesome time saver in the gym when your goal is hypertrophy. This set and rep scheme gets us to task failure faster than most traditional sets and reps.

If you’re traveling or have a super busy schedule and want to get in some quality hypertrophy work, then MYO-REP training could be useful for some of your accessory exercises.

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When I’m traveling and have limited time in the gym, I’ll hit my compound movements or heavier/higher intensity sets first, then move into my accessories and perform in an MYO-REP fashion and this typically saves me 15-30 minutes depending on the workout.

Benefit 2: Fun Mental Physical and Challenge

Another underappreciated benefit of MYO-REP training is that it can be a fun physical and mental challenge. I don’t know about you, but I can get pretty bored with traditional hypertrophy training.

When I’m feeling stagnant with my training or if I feel like a client is losing interest in their workouts, I’ll add MYO-REP training in for a few weeks. The goal of aiming for that first activation set is a fun challenge, and then the cluster sets after can be a really fun grind as well.

On top of this, you’ll be in and out of the gym faster than normal which can also be great for giving your mind a much-needed break from the often monotonous state of hypertrophy workouts and training.

Benefit 3: Awesome for Teaching Lifters How To Push Close to Failure

The last benefit that I have MYO-REP training is that it can be a good tool for teaching beginner and intermediate lifters what it feels like to work close to task failure in sets.

For example, being able to push close to failure in the gym and being honest about your effort output (RIR/RPE) is a skill. MYO-REP training allows us to do this efficiently with lighter loads so you’ll get the effort benefit with a weight that isn’t going to bury you.

MYO-REP Training Benefits

In practice, if I sense a lifter is sandbagging their workouts when it comes to their effort, then I’ll get them MYO-REPS to help teach them what it feels like to push themselves in the context of hypertrophy training.

MYO-REP Training FAQ

What does myo reps mean?

When you see MYO-REP sets programmed in workouts, then you’ll want to know that this is a specific type of set and rep scheme. MYO-REP sets entail an activation set performed for a higher volume followed by 3-5 cluster sets performed for 5 reps.

What are the benefits of Myo-reps?

MYO-REP training can be awesome for saving you time in the gym when your goal is hypertrophy. It can also be a great training method for challenging yourself physically and mentally.

Do myo reps really work?

MYO-REP results will vary from lifter to lifter much like most hypertrophy training theories and methods. In general, you can expect gains from MYO-REP sets as they utilize a lot of solid hypertrophy training principles.

Takeaway Thoughts

MYO-REP training can be an awesome tool for lifters from all walks of life who want to add some hypertrophy-style sets to their workouts. I’ve loved programming MYO-REP sets for both myself and my clients.

This training method can be awesome for saving you time in the gym and for teaching you how to push yourself hard when tackling hypertrophy work.

If you have additional questions about MYO-REP training, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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