Why You Should Do Myo Reps: The Bodybuilder's Secret to Growing Your L – Garage Strength

Why You Should Do Myo Reps: The Bodybuilder's Secret to Growing Your Legs

Bodybuilders have dominated the world of strength and conditioning for decades. Some people argue that bodybuilding doesn’t even make you strong, that it just makes you look big. I beg to differ! 

Bodybuilders don’t just know how to look strong, but actually BE strong. Just look at Ronnie Coleman or John “Mountain Dog” Meadows. There is, in fact, a rep scheme that bodybuilders like to use that will make you the strongest you’ve ever been. That is…drum roll please…MYO REPS! 

Myo reps aren't just a tool for bodybuilders, but strength athletes and performance athletes can also benefit from this monster rep scheme within their training program. I’ve experimented with the usage of myo rep sets with a few of my teams, including weightlifters, powerlifters, and throwers. 

First, we’ll take a closer look at what myo reps are, what makes them effective, and then give YOU an example workout so you can hit massive PRs. 


What Are Myo Reps?

In short, myo reps are a form of endurance training for strength athletes. The goal of myo reps is to gain a very large amount of lean muscle mass. 

Myo reps are a very unique way to stress the metabolic pathways of very specific muscle groups. You can use myo reps for improving larger muscle groups, but also for improving more isolated muscle groups. 

Muscles like the biceps and calves, that struggle to be hypertrophic, need more volume. And that’s the goal of myo reps - to maximize the volume of reps with high-intensity weight to achieve growth. 

Although in this article, we are going to look primarily at how you can properly use myo reps with compound movements to get anabolic results. 

High Volume Of Reps

The first quality of myo rep training is a very high volume of high-intensity WORKING reps. With any workout, you can do plenty of warm up sets and count it as “training volume”. 

Myo reps, on the other hand, force you to use an aggressive weight for 20 - 25 reps. This high volume is going to provide an aggressive stimulus for your body to adapt to over the course of 4-12 weeks. 

Many programs will have you only doing 4-8 effective reps. The story is different with myo reps. 

An example of a myo reps set is doing 1X10 at your 12RM weight or a weight where you would only have 2 reps in reserve after the initial 10. Then you would complete 6-8 doubles at the same weight. Therefore you are doing at least 22 reps at 80% or higher. 

But there is an aspect that makes it even harder…

Short Rest Periods

The second key aspect of myo rep training is the short rest period after the initial set. Myo reps require athletes to perform high-intensity weights under heavy fatigue. It forces a lot of lactic acid into the targeted muscle group and requires completion with a physical and mental challenge. 

The rest times will vary based on the athlete’s fitness, but athletes should aim for no more than 45 seconds rest between sets. 

To use the same example from above, after an athlete completes the set of 10, they will then rest for 45 seconds. After the 45 seconds, they will complete 6 doubles at the same weight with 30 seconds rest in between each double. 

Sounds brutal doesn’t it? 

How To Do A Myo Rep Set

A myo rep set is a unique take on clusters. More reps up front and less time in between. It’s going to be hard. That’s why you need to know your PRs or limits.

Picking the right weight to use is probably the hardest part of myo rep sets because you need something that will push you, but not cause muscular failure. The range you should be doing for your myo reps is 80-82% of your 1RM if that’s the only number you have.

Female athletes should be closer to that higher threshold and sometimes even above 82%. Females are going to have more aptitude for muscular endurance and handling the set mentally than men who are going to want to ego lift. 

Here is the general structure for any compound myo rep set: 

1 X 8-10 @ 80-82% 1RM | :45 seconds rest | 6-8 X 2 on :30-45 seconds rest all at the same weight

When to Use Myo Reps

Myo reps are extremely taxing. Especially on athletes that like to push their limits and push the weight on the bar. That’s why I don’t program myo reps in consecutive weeks. 

Myo reps require a lot of recovery and also a lot of effort to accomplish. As a coach that cares about his athletes, I cannot expect my athletes to do myo reps multiple times a week or even 2 weeks in a row. 

I will usually program myo reps at the beginning of a training block during week 1 and then at the end of a training block in week 4 or 5. In the interim weeks, the myo rep sets will be replaced with traditional cluster sets or the Mattis cluster set. 

Different types of athletes are going to need specific stimuli at different times within the periodization cycle. That’s why I recommend limiting the use of myo reps to early phases of the periodization cycle - that could be the exposure phase and comprehension phase if you are familiar with Peak Strength’s periodization model, Parabolic Periodization

Strength Athletes - Exposure Phase

Strength athletes will benefit from using myo reps in the earliest possible phase of training, for us, that’s the exposure phase.

This is when strength athletes need to get back into the groove of high volume training after a big peak or a big competition. This will start 12-16 weeks out from their next major event. 

The reason we want to use it so early in the training cycle is because then strength athletes will be able to increase their overall baseline strength from the jump. If we are able to establish a higher starting baseline than the last training cycle, then when we go to peak, we are primed to hit bigger numbers - in theory. 

So this would be for my throwers, weightlifters, powerlifters, linemen, and strongmen out there. Now what about performance athletes? 

Performance Athletes - Comprehension Phase

Performance athletes like football players, baseball players, swimmers, and all the above will want to use myo rep sets about 6 weeks out from the start of their competition / championship season. In our case, that's the comprehension phase. 

We do this because we want our athletes to be at their strongest and fastest right at the start of competition. Then maintain that fitness and conditioning throughout the primary competition season. 

This falls in line with many of the “preseason” goals for sports. That 4-6 week training window before competitions start is the perfect time for coaches to elevate the initial baseline strength for their athletes. 

Are They Better For Muscle Growth? 

I first read and heard about myo reps from bodybuilders in the mid 2000s. Myo reps piqued my interest primarily after reading about Borge Fagerli who essentially came up with the technical term of “myo reps”. 

So I’m here to answer the question of if myo reps are going to be the best strategy to break down and build up your muscle fibers. Is it really going to be the answer to filling out your gym shorts?

Compound Movements

One thing that I learned was that when you use myo reps on compound movements that use multiple muscle groups, it may tax the central nervous system too much. This is due to the large amount of metabolic stress that is put on your body in a very short period of time. 

Although, if you adjust your myo reps a little and adapt them to the type of exercise you are doing, they can be very beneficial in building strength AND muscle. 

So instead of doing 5-6 reps for the clusters, as you would for isolation exercises, you would bring it down to 2-3 reps per set. 

Do I think that they are the end all be all for muscle growth? Not at all. But I do believe that anyone can benefit from myo rep training over the course of 4-12 weeks if they are stuck in a plateau? Absolutely! 

If you are looking to break out of a strength plateau, you will see results in just 4-6 weeks. But if you want to see noticeable hypertrophic gains, I recommend using myo reps over a span of 10-12 weeks. 

Isolation Movements 

With isolation movements, you almost have to do the reverse of compound movements. You can bump up the reps for the initial set to 15-20 and then your clusters will be anywhere from 8-10. Although, your weight won’t be nearly as aggressive. 

A reminder: myo reps are meant to build a MASSIVE amount of mass. So using them on muscle groups that aren’t showing much progress is a good way to sculpt your dream athletic physique. Really packing on that metabolic stress to earn muscle hypertrophy. 

When doing isolation exercises, mechanical tension is a key factor in building muscle. And through using myo rep style resistance training, you’re able to increase that overall mechanical tension to strengthen the target muscle. 

Results of Using Myo Reps

The Experiment 

Let’s talk about real world applications. Just like any other non-white coat strength and conditioning coach, I love to run TONS of experiments. In this specific case, I used myo reps for my throwers and my weightlifters. 

For the throwers, we used myo rep sets to target their bench press and their back squat. The weightlifters were focused on specifically improving their back squat. 

The Results

  • Former NCAA champion in the weight throw, David Lucas Thomas, improved his back squat 6 rep max by 7.8% - even while slightly injured! 
  • USATF Olympic trials finalist in the discus, Legend Hayes, improved his back squat 6 rep max by 10.8%. 
  • USATF Olympic trials finalist in the shot put, T’Mond Johnson, improved his back squat 6 rep max by 20% in a period of 12 weeks! Going from 210 kilograms to 250 kilograms for a set of 6. 
  • Silver medalist at the IWF Junior World Championships, Anna McElderry, pushed her squat from 155 kilograms to 170 kilograms. 
  • World bronze medalist and multiple Pan American Champion, Hayley Reichardt, increased her back squat from 147 kilograms to 156 kilograms. 

The Conclusion

Yes. Athletes should use myo reps within their strength training if they are struggling with progress or have plateaued in a key area that affects their performance. Our Olympic-caliber athletes saw results in as little as 4 weeks. 

As mentioned previously, myo reps should be incorporated into earlier phases of the training cycle when athletes are far away from competition and working through a lot of volume. This rep scheme does fatigue the body and requires loads of recovery, so you should refrain from using it inside or close to the competition season. 

Not only can myo rep training improve the overall load for muscular endurance, for example, a 6RM, it can increase the absolute strength and power of an athlete within their 1RM. 

Example Workouts for Myo Reps

Lower Body Day

Upper Body Day

Hypertrophy Day

Bottom Line

Myo reps are HARD. They’re meant to push you out of a plateau and put you on the fast lane to making progress. They are a great tactic to build size, muscle, and most importantly, strength! 

I wouldn’t recommend a beginner or anyone that has a training age of less than 2 years to try using myo reps. There are other rep schemes that are beginner friendly and still offer progress, such as traditional clusters or the Mattis cluster. 

With myo reps, you will see progress. It’s just a matter of how long you do them and how hard you push yourself. 

Whether you’re a performance athlete, bodybuilder, strength athlete, or casual gym-goer, these are definitely a challenge if you’re looking for one. If you’re looking for other challenging rep schemes and unique ways to make progress specific to your goals, try any sport or program in the Peak Strength app for free! Until next time…PEACE! 

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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