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Rep Max Runner

Build muscle in all areas and slice body fat in 4 weeks with high-intensity, varying load rest-pause intervals.

Rep Max Runner

If you’re going to invest your time and energy in a workout program, you want to get the best possible results, right? Well, I have just the plan to help you maximize your ROI in the gym.

I’ll explain…

Lock in Your Results by Locking in Intensity

Most training programs, whether designed by me or not, rely on you to provide the needed intensity to get results. If you don’t put in the intensity, you can’t expect maximum results. But how do you know if you’re putting in enough intensity?

Workouts generally involve a rep range and a prescribed number of sets for each exercise. For example, on the bench press, you may do 3 sets of 10 reps. But how intense were those 10 reps? Some days you may give it your all on those 3 sets, while other days you’re fatigued or sick or “unmotivated” and give it far less than your best.

Here’s an idea: How about a program that picks the rep range but guarantees you’ll put in the intensity needed for the desired results?

I call it my Rep Max Runner program – “RM Runner” for short.

Trio of RMs for Max Gains

The RM Runner program is made up of three different “sub-systems”: the 5 to 10 System (a.k.a., 5RM Runner), the 10 to 20 System (10RM Runner), and the 15 to 50 System (15RM Runner). The three protocols are similar in that they use specifically timed rest-pause intervals, yet they’re very different in terms of the training stimulus provided.

#1 Resistance and Rest

The first number in each system’s name – 5, 10, or 15 – represents the amount of weight you’ll use, expressed as a rep maximum (RM). So, the 5 to 10 System uses a weight that limits you to 5 reps (your 5RM); the 10 to 20 System uses a weight that limits you to 10 reps (10RM); the 15 to 50 System uses a weight that allows you to complete 15 reps (15RM).

This first number also represents how long your rest periods will be within each round of the system: 5 seconds, 10 seconds, or 15 seconds.

#2 Rep Totals

The second number – 10, 20, 50 – refers to how many total reps you’ll complete per round with that weight on each exercise. You’ll do two rounds per exercise for 5 to 10 and 10 to 20, and only one round for 15 to 50.

Here are specific guidelines to follow for each system:

5 to 10 System

Pick a weight that limits you to 5 reps on a given exercise (i.e., your 5-rep max, or 5RM). After you complete the first 5 reps, rest for 5 seconds, then complete 1 rep. Rest another 5 seconds, then complete another rep. Keep doing this until you’ve completed 10 reps total.

Rest 1-2 minutes, then repeat the 10-rep cycle one more time with the same weight. However, if you have less than one year of training experience, do only one round. In fact, even if you have more than one year of experience you may want to stick to one round.

You shouldn’t be able to complete 5 reps initially on the second round. You’ll likely fail at around 4 reps, since you’ll be fatigued from the first round. Continue as described above – resting 5 seconds and doing 1 reps – until you complete another round of 10 full reps. If you can’t complete a rep after 5 seconds with proper form, rest as long as you need to get it done.

Round 1 should look like this:

  • 5 reps, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep (10 reps completed)

Rest 1-2 minutes.

Round 2 will probably look more like this:

  • 4 reps, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep, rest 5 seconds
  • 1 rep (10 reps completed)

Time Block: A typical round of 5 to 10 takes around 1 minute to complete.

10 to 20 System

Pick a weight you can do for 10 reps – your 10RM. After doing the initial 10 reps (just like you did 5 reps in the previous protocol), rest 10 seconds and do as many reps as you can again until reaching muscle failure. Continue resting for 10 seconds after reaching failure until you’ve completed 20 reps total for the exercise.

Do 2 rounds/sets in this manner, with 1-2 minutes rest between sets. And again, those with less than one year of training experience, do only one round.

Round 1 may look something like this:

  • 10 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 5 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 3 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 2 reps (20 reps completed)

Rest 1-2 minutes.

Round 2 may look something like this:

  • 8 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 4 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 3 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 3 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • 2 reps (20 reps completed)

If you can complete 10 or more reps on the initial set of round 2, the weight you started with in Round 1 is too light. Make a note of that so you can go heavier on that exercise the next time you do the 10 to 20 System.

Time Block: A typical round of 10 to 20 takes around 2 minutes to complete.

15 to 50 System

Pick a weight you can do 15 reps with on the exercise – your 15RM. After completing the first 15 reps, rest 15 seconds, then continue doing reps until hitting muscle failure. Continue resting for 15 seconds each time you hit failure until you’ve completed 50 reps total. This is essentially one long rest-pause set, as 15 seconds is a typical break period when doing rest-pauses. 

If your reps fall below 5 at any point during the round, you can increase the rest up to 30 seconds.

With the 15 to 50 technique, you only need to do one set. After doing one, it’s doubtful you’d want to do a second one anyway!

A round of 15 to 50 may look something like this:

  • 15 reps, rest 15 seconds
  • 9 reps, rest 15 seconds
  • 7 reps, rest 15 seconds
  • 6 reps, rest 15 seconds
  • 5 reps, rest 15 seconds
  • 4 reps, rest 15-30 seconds
  • 4 reps (50 reps completed)

Time Block: A typical round of 15 to 50 takes around 5-6 minutes to complete.

Intensity Guaranteed

All three of the above “Systems” ensure that you’re training with adequate intensity (to deliver maximum results) by locking in the two training variables that more or less determine intensity: training to failure and rest periods.

Many people equate load (weight used) to intensity. This would mean the heavier the weight, the more intense the workout would be, and vice versa. Heavy weight, high intensity; light weight, low intensity.

But that’s not necessarily the case. Heavy 3-rep sets with 2-3 minutes between each set aren’t nearly as intense a workout as 15-rep sets with only 30-60 seconds between sets. Likewise, 15-rep sets taken to failure are way more intense than a bunch of heavy sets stopped short of fatigue (leaving “reps in the tank,” as they say).

Bottom line: Taking sets to failure and minimizing rest periods is how you maximize intensity and cause the most positive change in your physique (building muscle and dropping body fat).

With the 10 to 20 and 15 to 50 Systems, all sets are taken to failure and rest periods are very short (10 seconds and 15 seconds, respectively). Both key intensity variables are predetermined going into the workout, so you have no choice but to train intensely!

With the 5 to 10 System, the rest periods are even shorter (5 seconds), yet you may not be going to failure on every single (1 rep). That’s okay because the emphasis in these workouts is maximizing strength, so not every set needs to be taken to failure. In fact, taking a rest-pause after every rep, like you do with 5 to 10, has been shown in strength-training studies to improve both power and strength development.

That said, the initial set on 5 to 10 should be essentially hitting failure, assuming you’ve correctly determined your 5RM. And with only 5 seconds between singles, at least one or two of those will hit failure. In other words, a couple rounds of 5 to 10 will be one of the most intense strength-focused workouts you’ve ever done!

Size, Strength, Fat Loss – You Get Them All!

Even though each of the above three systems stands on its own, I designed them to be used interchangeably over the course of a multi-week program (see below for a full rundown of my 4-week RM Runner program).

For example, if you were going to run the program for three weeks, you could use a different system each week – for example, 15 to 50 in Week 1; 10 to 20 in Week 2; and 5 to 10 in Week 3.

Does this scheme look vaguely familiar you? This is a linear periodization model, where each “phase” (week) the weight gets heavier and the rep counts decrease.

You could flip-flop this – doing 5 to 10 in Week 1 and 15 to 50 in Week 3, keeping 10 to 20 in Week 2 – and it would be a reverse-linear periodized program.

Or, you could make this undulating periodization by doing, say, 10 to 20 in Week 1, going heavier in Week 2 with 5 to 10, then lightening it up with 15 to 50 in Week 3.

Of course, you can also extend the program for longer than three weeks. You could repeat the above schedule twice for a 6-week program, or three times for a 9-week program. The same program lengths could be achieved by doing each system for two or three weeks consecutive.

What I like about combining the three systems into one program is that it subjects your muscles to a wide range of training stimuli to produce strength, muscle-building, and fat-loss benefits. The 5 to 10 System will promote strength gains since you’re using a very heavy weight (your 5RM) on every exercise, and 15 to 50 is ideal for both hypertrophy (muscle-building) and fat loss.

The 10 to 20 scheme falls somewhere in the middle – you’re going heavy enough to build some strength, but completing enough total reps (especially when you consider that you’re doing two rounds per exercise, for a total of 40 reps) to spark size gains.

Another benefit of the RM systems is that they can be used to bust through training plateaus – the 5 to 10 System for strength plateaus, and either 10 or 20 or 15 to 50 for when you hit a hypertrophy (muscle-gaining) plateau.

RM Runner 4-Week Rundown

My official RM Runner program is a 4-week, 5-days-a-week routine. As with my other recent programs, this one follows my Full-Split protocol – meaning, every workout hits the full body while also focusing on specific body parts (2-3 focus body parts per day in the program) to maximize both fat-burning and hypertrophy.

The weekly body part split for all four weeks of the program will look like this:

Workout 1: Chest, Abs Focus (4 chest exercises, 2 ab exercises)

Workout 2: Back, Calves Focus (5 back exercises, 2 calf exercises)

Workout 3: Shoulders, Traps, Abs Focus (4 shoulder exercises, 3 trap exercises, 2 ab exercises)

Workout 4: Triceps, Biceps, Forearms Focus (3 triceps exercises, 3 biceps exercises, 2 forearm exercises)

Workout 5: Legs, Calves Focus (4 leg exercises, 2 calf exercises)

All non-focus muscle groups will get one exercise per workout.

RM Runner Week to Week – Focus Muscle Groups

As I hinted at in the previous section, Week 1 will feature the 15 to 50 System for focus muscle groups in all workouts; Week 2, the 10 to 20 System; Week 3, the 5 to 10 System; and Week 4 will incorporate all three systems in every workout.

Let’s talk more about Week 4. When focus muscle groups entail three or more exercises (chest, back, shoulders, traps, triceps, biceps), all three systems will be employed in reverse-linear fashion (starting heavy with low reps and getting lighter with higher reps), one exercise at a time – 5 to 10, then 10-20, then 15-50.

For muscle groups getting more than three exercises, one or more systems will be repeated; for example, for back in Workout 2 of Week 4, the first two exercises will be done with 5 to 10, the third exercise with 10 to 20, and the last two exercises with 15 to 50.

For focus muscle groups that only get two exercises (abs, calves, forearms), the first exercise will be done with 10 to 20 and the second with 15 to 50.

Here’s a snapshot of how the four RM Runner weeks will look:

Week 1: 15 to 50 for focus muscles groups

Week 2: 10 to 20 for focus muscles groups

Week 3: 5 to 10 for focus muscles groups

Week 4: All three systems for focus muscle groups getting three or more exercises; 10 to 20 and 15 to 50 for muscle groups getting two exercises.

Sets and Reps for Non-Focus Muscle Groups

The seven or eight non-focus muscle groups in each workout will NOT utilize the RM protocol. Instead, they’ll be trained with straight sets ranging from 5 to 25 reps. Each exercise will be performed for 1-3 sets: 1-2 for beginners, 2-3 for advanced individuals. If you’re unsure how much volume you can handle, err on the low end; start with one set per exercise and go from there. Or, if you're short on time one day (even if you're an experienced lifter), do 1 or 2 sets instead of 3. The point with the full-body portions is to stimulate the non-focus muscles, not destroy them.

Here’s a table showing the rep counts, week-to-week and workout-to-workout, for non-focus muscle groups.

Reps for Non-Focus Muscle Groups

  Workout 1 Workout 2 Workout 3 Workout 4 Workout 5
Week 1 20 10 15 5 25
Week 2 5 25 10 20 15
Week 3 15 20 5 25 10
Week 4 10 5 25 15 20

Making RM Runner a Body-Part Split Routine

I've laid out this 4-week program to follow my Full-Split protocol, meaning it's a full-body routine. But if you'd rather follow a body-part split, you can skip the full-body sections of every workout and make the program a more traditional 5-day split routine, where all muscle groups (aside from abs and calves) are trained once a week.

Variety of Ways to Use the RM Systems

My RM Runner program shows you one way to combine all three systems, but you can utilize them in a number of different ways.

You can convert any workout at any time to a 5 to 10, 10 to 20, or 15 to 50 routine – simply pick the corresponding weight for each exercise (5RM, 10RM, or 15RM) and follow the rest-pause protocol as described above. Which you choose should depend on your primary goal. If you're in a strength-focused phase, go with 5 to 10; if you're more interested in building size, go with either 10 to 20 or 15 to 50, or utilize both in the same program.

Or, pick any of the three systems and use it for just one exercise in a workout. For example, you can finish a chest workout using the 15 to 50 System on your last exercise (say, cable crossovers). Or, if you're looking to enhance strength and power, you can start a workout with a big strength move (ie, bench press for chest, bent-over rows for back, deadlifts or squats for legs, etc.) using the 5 to 10 System, then do the rest of your exercises in the workout with standard straight sets.

RM Runner Cardio

Additional cardio is not required when following my full-split routines. The full-body workouts are great for boosting fat loss and improving conditioning. However, I know some of you will want to add cardio to the program anyway. If you do, I recommend either HIIT cardio (at the end of workouts or in separate training sessions) or cardioacceleration between sets.

On focus muscle groups, you can do 30-60 seconds of cardio in between rounds of RM Systems; when training non-focus muscle groups, do cardioacceleration between straight sets.

HIIT cardio is actually great to do on rest days as well (i.e., weekends). Do some Tabatas on non-training days, or do one of my active rest workouts like the Weider Full-Body Builder or Lucky 13 HIIT circuit.

Rep Max Runner Workouts

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Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4


Download All Workouts Here


Push Past Your Rep Limits for Maximum Gains

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