RP Gym Free - The Science Behind The Program

Wondering whether the RP Gym Free program is a good option for your at-home training? In this post we dive into the science behind the program to see what makes it effective.

Huw Williams
Editor
April 29, 2021

The RP Gym Free program is a progressive at-home workout program based around the use of myo-reps and supersets. There is a strong focus on performing reps with good technique, with each set being performed to technical failure (the point at which you can no longer perform the movement with good technique).

If you are unaware of what Myo-reps are, they are performed by completing as many reps as you can of an exercise up until failure, then resting for 3 -5 deep breaths before performing the exercise to failure again. The number of times this sequence is repeated varies.  

Before diving deeper into the science of what makes the RP Gym Free program effective, and a great option for your at home training, I think it’s important to understand the main principles that underpin hypertrophy (ie. muscle gain).

 

The primary mechanisms by which hypertrophy occurs are:

1.    Mechanical Tension - Tension produced by force generation (during the concentric phase of a movement) and stretch (during the eccentric phase) is essential for muscle growth. Increasing this tension over time increases muscle mass.

2.    Muscle damage – Damage to muscle fibres during workouts results in a cascade of events within the muscle that act to grow the muscle.

3.    Metabolic Stress – The accumulation of metabolites within the working muscle can have a significant hypertrophic effect.

 

Now we’ll look at how these mechanisms fit in with the RP Gym Free program. At lighter loads, such as those used in most home workouts, not all muscle fibres in the working muscle will be recruited from the beginning of your set. Only the last few reps of the set will achieve 100% recruitment. This is because as you fatigue, more muscle fibres will  be recruited in order to continue producing sufficient force to perform the movement. The degree of recruitment is another important factor in driving the hypertrophic response within muscle, with high levels of recruitment being needed to stimulate maximal hypertrophy. Therefore, the final reps can be considered to be effective reps as they are disproportionately responsible for driving the hypertrophic response compared to the initial reps.

By employing myo-reps, as is done in this program, higher fibre recruitment is achieved earlier in the follow on sets (ie. sets 2,3,4 etc) due to the fact that you are starting the set in a fatigued state (the muscle has not had time to fully recover). Therefore a greater portion of reps in these sets are effective. This makes myo-reps a great technique to use to make workouts extremely time efficient and effective when you only have access to light weights. 

For both the myo-reps and supersets, the RP Gym Free program gets you to perform each set to technical failure. As discussed above, this is hypothesised to result in greater recruitment of the working muscle. In combination with the short rest periods used, which do not give sufficient time for metabolites to be fully flushed out of the working muscle, this acts to enhance exercise-induced metabolic stress and thereby potentiate the hypertrophic response.

The emphasis on training to technical failure is also good to see. By doing so you are not going to absolute failure, where technique becomes compromised, but instead ensuring that the working muscle is being targeted to the max while your risk of injury is minimised.

The program incorporates progressive overload through an increase in the number of sets you perform over the course of the 5 training weeks. The program also gives you guidance on when to increase the weight you are using for each exercise, based on the number of reps you can perform.

The program ends on week 6 with a deload week. During this week training volume is greatly reduced to allow for recovery before either repeating the program or going on to something different. This is good practice as it allows any systemic fatigue that has developed over the course of the training cycle to dissipate before your next phase of progressive training. In the long term incorporating deloads into your training, every 5-6 weeks, as RP prescribe, will reduce your risk of injury and help you to keep progressing.Remember, a week of doing less will not set you back; 6 weeks out injured because you didn’t give yourself the time to recover will.

 

Overall, the structure and principles underpinning this program set a good environment for hypertrophy (muscle gain) to take place provided your nutrition also aligns with this goal. The specific techniques used (myo-reps and supersets) make for intense workouts, that are highly effective and extremely time efficient.

 

If you’re looking to gain muscle on this program we would suggest you make sure you are in a calorie surplus (aim to gain between 0.25% and 0.5% of your body weight per week). If you’re looking for help with your diet, for weight gain or weight loss, then the RP Diet App could be a good option to combine with this program. The app does not just provide you with a basic nutrition plan, but rather acts as a diet coach. As your weight changes so does your diet. This adaptive nature, helps keep you on track to your goals as you gain/lose weight.

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