4 Day Rest Pause RP-21 Muscle Building Workout System

Written By: Fitman
January 5th, 2014
Updated: June 13th, 2020
288.2K Reads
4 Day Rest Pause RP-21 Muscle Building Workout System
RP-21 rest pause training helps you to increase muscle size and aesthetics. This 4 day upper/lower workout split focuses on big compound movements with no fluff.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration4 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout45-60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

The main reason that we begin to train is that we are interested in making changes to our physique.

When I began to take an interest in training during my teens, my goal was to look like a superhero.

Strength and performance became the main goal as I began to compete in track at the collegiate level.

What I learned at this time in my young athletic career was that the better I performed in the gym, the better my body looked.

The Hybrid

There are many great training protocols that focus on strength, performance, or aesthetics.

For example, the great 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler is designed mainly for increases in strength.

Vince Gironda’s timeless 8×8 is designed mainly for changes in the aesthetic quality of your physique.

But what if there was a way to blend strength, performance, and physique changes into one program?

Enter my RP-21 training system. RP-21 blends strength, performance, and aesthetics. The design of the program is simple but the results you gain are extraordinary.

What Is Your Goal?

Most people do not truly commit to a goal when training. The common theme is that a person wants to achieve max levels of all attributes simultaneously.

This is admirable, but sadly mistaken.

What I want to make crystal clear before moving forward is this. No single program can maximize you in every attribute (strength, speed, power, athletic performance, etc) at the same time.

If I was training a pure powerlifter, RP-21 would not be his main training scheme throughout the year. His or her goals are different. They would need to feel heavier loads with longer rest periods, which are not a part of RP-21.

RP-21 is a hybrid training system. You will get very strong, you will look phenomenal, and you will be much more athletic. RP-21 is a total body reconstruction plan.

M&S Athlete Preparing to Perform the RP-21 Workout

Density Rules

When training for strength, performance, and muscle mass you need a scheme that allows for progressive overload. Without a challenge (heavier loads, more reps, shorter rest, etc.) you are wasting your time in the gym.

Muscles need new challenges to grow. 3×10 every week with 135lbs on the bench is for the fake hustlers.

What if there was a way to keep the weight moderately heavy to heavy (70-80% of your maximum) while performing more reps with that heavy load in a shorter time frame?

If you squat 225×5 for 4 sets resting 3 minutes in between rounds, that is 12 minutes of rest.

A good estimate would be that each set would take up to 30 seconds per set. You are probably up near 14-17 total minutes to complete that series of 20 reps.

But what if you did 235×3 for 7 sets resting 1 minute in between rounds? That is 7 minutes of rest plus an estimated 15-20 seconds of work per set. This puts us at 9-11 minutes to complete those 21 reps while using a heavier load.

Don’t you think your legs will respond differently?

When you combine relatively heavy weights and a brisk training pace you create a brutal, but winning combination for muscle growth.

The Iron Guru

Let’s look back to the 1950’s and examine the famous training methodology of the legendary Iron Guru, Vince Gironda as an example.

Gironda was known to get bodybuilders into stage condition using advanced dieting methods and his 8x8 training program.

When you break down 8×8 to its base, you can clearly see that it is the earliest form of Rest-Pause.

This scheme involves 8 sets of 8 reps with a very short (15-30 seconds) rest between sets. With a rest interval this short, the load cannot be heavy or you would have zero chance to complete it.

Ok, It Sounds Great Fitman, But What is RP-21?

Traditional rest-pause training uses shorter rest periods but RP-21 allows you more time to recover in order to move heavier weights.

RP-21 focuses on 7 rest-paused sets of 3 reps each with 70-80% of your max. The wildcard is that the rest periods are only 1 minute in between sets.

For example, 300lbs is your max full squat. Using 70% of your max would leave you at 225lbs.

During your first week of the program, you would use 225lbs for each set of 3 until you reached 21.

I would recommend you starting at 70 percent or even a bit lower if you are uncomfortable. The big picture matters more than one training session.

You do not want to set yourself up to NOT be able to progress in the following weeks. There will be plenty of time to get comfortable with uncomfortable.

The opening sets and weight may not feel supremely tough but as the program progresses, the weight gets heavier and the rest feels like it is getting shorter.

You are guaranteed to run into a wall of pain and doubt very soon. RP-21 will sneak up on you like Clubber Lang did against Rocky in their first fight.

Run this program as written to maximize it. Stick to the 1-minute rest periods to maintain the intensity.

I would suggest a 2.5-10lb increase on a major lower body movement (squat/deadlift/hip thrust) and a 2.5-5lb increase on a major upper body movement (bench press/overhead press/pull-chin up/dip) each week during the mesocycle.

(Note:  If you are not comfortable performing a 1-rep maximum lift, you can find out your starting number by using your 3-rep maximum and starting with 70 percent of that number. Both ways work well for establishing starting numbers.)

M&S Athlete Using the RP-21 Method for Dips

Enter RP-21

The RP-21 set is the most important set of your day, so prepare your mind for it.

Sometimes even with your best efforts, you may not make it to 21 reps.

If you fail and say the total rep number is 15 for that day in your squat, you will try to improve on that the next week.

If you cannot reach 21 at a certain weight within 3 workouts, you will sub out that move for a different one or a variation that targets the same muscles.

We are not lifting to feed your ego. Let the pain of defeat soak in and then attack that move with a fury when it comes around again.

RP-21 is centered around big compound movements so that you can make proper gains in strength and performance. Fake hustle movements like triceps kickbacks, bosu ball one-legged squats, and jogging are not included at all.


RP-21 is a 4-day lifting split.

There will be two lower body days and two upper body days. Your big movement of the day will be the RP-21 movement.

For your RP-21 movements I recommend:

  • Squat: Traditional, Front, or Barbell Hack. Make sure you are maximizing your squat depth with every rep. Half squats get half results.
  • Deadlift: Conventional, Sumo, or Trap Bar
  • Bench Press: Flat, Incline, Decline, Close Grip or Dumbbell
  • Overhead Press: Standing, Seated, or Dumbbell
  • Pull Ups: Pulls, Chins, or Hammer
  • Dips
  • Glute-Ham Raises
  • Hip Thrusts

Note: In time you will need a weight belt for chins/dips if you are not already there at the moment.

Accessory Moves

The accessory moves will be slightly modified rest-pause sets using 6 sets by 5 reps with a 30-second rest between sets.

Accessory moves should start with a much lower weight than your 7×3 sets since you will have incurred fatigue.

The 6×5 sets are absolute muscle incinerators and they are tougher than the 7x3 sets. The moderate load feels stunningly HEAVY after a few short rounds.

The 6x5 sets are important because these are the sets where you earn your conditioning, toughness, and character.

(Note: All of the main movements can be used for 6x5 too. I will only list moves not already listed)

For your 6x5 movements I recommend:

Lower Body

  • Bulgarian Split Squats (6 total sets, 3 sets per leg)
  • Barbell Lunges (Walking or Reverse)
  • Dumbbell Lunges (Walking or Reverse)
  • Barbell RDL’s, 45/90 Degree Hip Extensions (Barbell or Dumbbell)
  • Standing or Seated Calf Raises

Upper Body

  • Gironda Neck Press
  • Barbell Bent Over Row (Pronated/Supinated/T-Bar)
  • Dumbbell Bent Over Row (One Arm or Two Arm)
  • Lateral Raises
  • Bent-Over Rear Delt Raises
  • Bicep Curls (Barbell or Dumbbell)
  • Tricep Extensions (EZ Curl Bar or Dumbbell)

RP-21 Training Scheme Overview

Perform as 2 days on/1 day off/2 day on/2 days off. Rotating your squats, deadlifts, and presses is a great idea. Worrying about where to add in your cable crossovers or your machine bicep curls is a bad plan for success.

The moves that you need to do will be responsible for the vast majority of your results. The moves that look flashy in the magazines will not save you. Focus on the basic moves to build a complete physique.

Follow the same moves for 3 weeks before thinking about making slight changes to movements.

Day 1: Lower Body

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Barbell Squat 7 3
2. Barbell Hip Thrust 6 5
3. Dumbbell Reverse Lunge 6 5 (10 lunges total)
4. Seated Calf Raise 6 5

Day 2: Upper Body

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dips 7 3
2. Chin Ups 6 5
3. Incline Bench Press 6 5
4. Barbell Bent Over Row 6 5
5. Decline Dumbbell Tight Press 6 5

Day 3: Lower Body

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Deadlift 7 3
2. Walking Dumbbell Lunges 6 5 (10 steps total)
3. Glute Ham Raises 6 5
4. Standing Calf Machine Raises 6 5

Day 4: Upper Body

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Pull Ups 7 3
2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 6 5
3. One Arm Rows 6 5 (per side)
4. Close Grip Bench Press 6 5
5. Barbell Curl 6 5


RP-21 works the best when you train for 3 weeks hard followed by a 1 week deloading period. This allows your CNS to recover from the high-intensity lifting.

If you would like more variation, you could offset RP-21 with a higher volume training program like 8x8. Train hard for 3 weeks, deload for 1 week, and then begin 8x8.

If you try to train at high-intensity with heavy loads every single week, your joints will erode like the economy did in 2007.

To deload, you can perform a simple legs/push/pull split using 2-3 moves per day with reduced total volume. 3 sets of 8-12 reps will work.


People complicate nutrition more than Facebook relationship statuses. Your nutrition simply needs to match your goal.

If you are looking to gain great strength and size with RP-21 you will need to increase your total caloric intake and increase your carbohydrate consumption.

To lose fat with RP-21 you need to decrease your caloric intake and lower your carbohydrate consumption. Your fats and carbohydrates will always be inverse of each other and vary based whether it is a training day or a rest day.

If you want to gain muscle without excessive fat gain you will want to have a lower fat content on your high carb days and higher fat content on your low carbs days.

The combination of high calories, high carbs and high fat at the same time will have you looking like the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man.

RP-21 Nutrition Plan


Conditioning gets you into phenomenal shape and it keeps body fat off your physique.

Lifting alone will not allow you to truly increase your athleticism and get into fantastic shape. You do not want to be strong and muscular but lack conditioning. Your goal is not to be Marvin Meathead.

Adding in 1-2 days of conditioning with RP-21 is a great idea. Check out some of the insanely effective options below:

  • Sprinting (On the track, a field, or up hills. Treadmills do not and will never count as true sprints.)
  • Pushing the Prowler (walks or sprints)
  • Bodyweight Training Complexes
  • The Punisher Workout
  • Barbell Complexes

Whichever one you choose, just make sure it is short and to the point. Leave the 2-hour treadmill sessions to the bozos in the “cardio” section.


Training schemes give the iron game rules and structure.

If you are skipping days or putting in half effort then you will not progress on any program. You will however look and feel like the average Conrad Casual who hasn’t seen any progress since Myspace was relevant.

Do not be a casual lifter. Use RP-21 as the main part of your yearly training split to reach new levels of strength and performance.

Unleash your inner greatness today.

If you want to get that lean and ripped body, it’s time you step your game up and train like an athlete. This means getting back to the most essential basics of sprinting and lifting workouts. Learn exactly how with Fitman’s new book, Use Speed To Get Lean!

Posted on: Sat, 11/28/2020 - 13:06

Curious why there isn’t a heavy bench press in this? It’s all incline or close grip bench? Isn’t a standard bench pretty much one of the big moves that should be utilized?

Jonathan Wrightson
Posted on: Mon, 09/02/2019 - 10:01

Yo, is it bad if I dont rest between sets? Im sure it is but just figured i would check.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/03/2019 - 11:48

Hi Jonathan,

Rest in between sets so you can go heavier and create more of a hypertrophic response.

Posted on: Wed, 01/10/2018 - 04:19

Why was the program changed? I downloaded the pdf for the earlier version which I've been doing for the last month.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 01/10/2018 - 08:43

Hi Ace,

The article and workout was a couple of years old. Eric hit us up and asked if he could update it. The program has only changed slightly. And both workouts, this one and the OG one, will give you stellar results if you commit to it and a healthy diet plan.

Honestly, being one of the lucky few that has access to both PDFs, it's not a bad idea to hold onto it and cycle between the two as a change of pace every couple of months.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Tue, 12/22/2015 - 17:23

Is this good for a 50 yr old??

Manuel toledo
Posted on: Wed, 11/11/2015 - 18:58

Hey just wondering, where could we fit in cleans to this program. I know it would be best as the rp21 move, but on a lower or upper day

Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2015 - 04:12

Just wondering if I am supposed to keep the weight the same all the through each of the sets or can the weight be changed throughout the sets? Also there is a lack of shoulder exercises, can I add in a shoulder move ? Cheers

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2015 - 09:50

You're still getting a good bit of shoulders with the incline DB press but you could also throw some overhead press on Day 4 just the same.

You're can go with the pyramid option where you increase the weight every set or you can do straight sets, it's up to you. I prefer to use both options depending upon my programming.

Pete Saunders
Posted on: Tue, 07/28/2015 - 15:03

Would it be okay to run this program with the same philosophy in mind, but with a different split? IE Chest/Tris.. Back/Bis..ETC? Thanks in advance.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 07/29/2015 - 10:00

You could but it wouldn't necessarily be any better.

Dan Gromik
Posted on: Tue, 03/24/2015 - 16:53

Hi Eric,
Thank you very much for this great article.
Quick Question? I did not see anything about warming up prior to starting the daily workout.
Do you recommend light warm up sets/stretching/light plyometrics prior to starting your first 7x3 for the daily workout?



Posted on: Sat, 01/31/2015 - 05:30

Hi, I've started doing this workout routine, I had killer pain in my legs after the first workout, the second exercise on the first day "Hip Thrusts" the video is showing flat bench leg raises.
What exercise are you supposed to do?

Eric Brown
Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2015 - 16:04

Hey Philip,

Your legs are being stressed in new way. The result is the deep soreness you are feeling after trying RP-21. Trust me it gets better as you get better!

For the Barbell Hip Thrust I am not sure why the link is not working. You could send a message to Muscle and Strength so that they could address the issue.

In the meantime, you could check out my tutorial on the hip thrust at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmygV_uwdIg.

Good luck with RP-21!

Posted on: Tue, 11/25/2014 - 09:17

Looks like a great routine...Just one question, with regards to switching out after week three. Is it advisable to do 3 weeks of rp21 and switch to gvt for 3 weeks before going back to rp21 or is it better to do 3 weeks of rp21 and then deload for a week using a high volume routine and go back to rp21? . Also is there an alternate exercise for hip thrusts? Is it ok to use front squats instead of the lunges on day one?

Posted on: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 11:53

Hey Eric, I'm working out from home (no machines) just free weights. Any suggestions on replacing machine exercises with free weights (leg curls, ham raise etc.)??

Eric Brown
Posted on: Sat, 01/31/2015 - 14:32

Hey PJ,

Thanks for checking out RP-21.

As far as replacing he machine movements you can do this:
Leg Press can be replaced with Barbell Hack Squat
Leg Curl can be replaced with Glute Ham Raise

The link to my barbell hack squat tutorial is here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/barbell-hack-squats-workouts-...

For glute ham raises, you do not need the actual glute ham developer. You simply need something to hold your ankles down. Another name for this is the Russian Leg Curl. A link to a description of that is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jydIY4sX8tE.

Good luck with RP-21!

Posted on: Mon, 11/10/2014 - 17:15

Looks like a great plan, thanks for the info. I'm 45 years old and work out from home. Bench-squat rack and dumbells. Can you recommend some alternate exercises for the ones listed that require machines?


Eric Brown
Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2014 - 09:43

Hey P.J,

Thanks for reading this article. The great thing about RP-21 is that it can adapted to work with most movements. For example:

1) Barbell Hack Squat can replace Leg Press. In my experience the Barbell Hack Squat is the more effective move but I put the Leg Press in to avoid having to do RDL's and BHS's on the same day. It can be done and I have done it but it will beat up your grip and tax your low back. This can make for a longer recovery period.

2) Glute Ham Raises can replace Leg Curls. Although GHR's are already on the protocol, you could use them twice in a week. For best results you can change how you do them on the second day by changing the tempo for a slight variation.

If you have more questions on training programming please send me an email at Fitman@FitmanPerformance.com. Thanks!

Posted on: Mon, 11/03/2014 - 12:59

Going to start this today! Love the idea of this training. Is every set in the workout a rest-pause set? If that is the case, how do I perform a rest-pause deadlift? Thank you so much in advance!!!

Eric Brown
Posted on: Wed, 11/05/2014 - 13:51

Hey Ben,

Thanks for reading the article.

Every set of the RP-21 scheme is a rest pause set of either 7x3 or 6x5. The 7x3 sets have a 1 minute rest between sets. The 6x5 sets have a 30 second rest between sets.

A rest pause deadlift for example in a 7x3 fashion would be performed by performing 3 reps of the deadlift and then resting 1 minute before performing 3 more reps. You would repeat this for 7 sets.

Posted on: Tue, 05/20/2014 - 02:36

Hi, was just wondering if it would be wise to run this workout using the same setup with rep ranges and rest time, but as a four day split with more excersises focusing on two particular body parts each workout? for example, do shoulders and biceps monday, back/ traps tuesday, rest/cardio wednesday, chest and triceps thursday, rest/ cardio friday and legs on saturday and then rest on sunday. Have completed about 6 weeks of the workout but feel as though the upperbody isnt get worked out enough.

Eric Brown
Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 22:26

Hey Jack. My original layout for RP-21 was exactly what you gave an example of. I used that split initially before using the current 2 day upper and 2 day lower routine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the original scheme. My observations from running them both was that I was able to hit the upper body as a whole more frequently with the current scheme. But try out the first scheme and see how it works for you and let me know what you find out. Thanks for using RP-21!

Posted on: Wed, 03/19/2014 - 20:42

Hello Eric, i was wondering if you can use this scheme with wendlers 5/3/1 as assistance work

Eric Brown
Posted on: Thu, 03/20/2014 - 15:39

Hey Andrew. This is a good question. If we look at a sample 5/3/1 squat day comprising of 3 sets of 5 reps in the squat, then I see no reason why you could not use the 6x5 scheme as the assistance work on that day. But it all depends on what your goal is. If you are chasing strictly strength then the 6x5 scheme would not allow to use the heavier weights needed to gain the supreme strength one would be looking for in the assistance moves. However if you are chasing physique goals, then the 6x5 would a good choice for assistance moves as the moderate weight and short rests are ideal for hypertrophy.

Posted on: Fri, 02/28/2014 - 15:47

Hello Eric,

So I am on my second round. Week 5. I am seeing some definite improvement in everything but shoulders. They seem to be my lagging body part.
The thing that I love about this protocol is that I don't really have to think too much. Concentrate on my set in front of me and record the progress. I don't know how to adjust it so I can bring my shoulders in to the progress the rest of my body is making.
Any suggestions that you may have will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time and attention.

Posted on: Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:57

Hi Eric, I like very much your program, I'll do it in the following weeks.

I'd like to change HIP THRUST and GLUTE HAM RAISE, could you give some alternative exercises please in order to replace them?


Posted on: Mon, 02/24/2014 - 17:10

hi Eric, can I do leg curls instead of ham glute raise as I don't have the equipment in my gym. also can I do deadlifts instead of Romanian deadlifts? thanks brad

Posted on: Mon, 02/24/2014 - 16:57

Eric, I can't do glute ham raise have not got the equipment in my gym for it. can I do leg curls instead? also can I do deadlifts instead of Romanian deadlifts? help would be much appreciated.

thanks brad

Eric Brown
Posted on: Tue, 02/25/2014 - 19:51

Hey Brad. You have some options as far as the glute ham raise. You can perform it on lat pulldown machine or on a seated calf machine like I do in this video at the 1:17 mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je6DJHTbJls. If you are unable to perform these methods at your gym, then you will need to substitute in the leg curl. As far as conventional deadlifts, they can work well in this program, but I like to use the RDL in this phase since I am squatting earlier in the week. Full squat and conventional deadlift can be done in the same week but it is tough on the body. If you are going to perform conventional deadlifts and squats in the same week with the RP-21 style, make sure you are eating and recovering properly or you will burn out quickly. Good luck.

Collin Preston
Posted on: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 22:40

This program is awesome. I always thought that timed workouts would be too complicated but this is simple. Hint: If you have a clock in your gym start a set every 1:15. It helps you keep track of counting sets if you start at the top of the clock. Remembering if your on set 5 or 6 is harder than it sounds.

Also, this routine really boosted my strength. Both my bench and squat went up. It also helps you realize how much time you spend doing nothing at the gym and your rest times will be forever shorter.

Eric Brown
Posted on: Wed, 02/19/2014 - 19:12

Hey Collin. Thanks for the insight on what you have experienced with RP-21. Timed workouts can be very effective if the programming is simple. And with RP-21 I wanted to ensure that the programming itself was simple to follow but the workouts were still tough and effective. I am glad you have also noticed that the body will adapt to the short rest times. This is how real conditioning is developed. Keep making progress with RP-21.

Posted on: Sun, 01/26/2014 - 18:49

Hey Eric,
Thanks for this article. Seems great workout. Can't wait to see the results. My question is how can I combine this 4 days workout with PX90..which is 7 days workout. I play baseball and want to be strong, flexible and have agility. Will I get the result if continue do both workouts?

Eric Brown
Posted on: Mon, 01/27/2014 - 23:57

Hey Jay. Thanks for the kind words. As far as your question goes, I do not advise training 7 days a week. When you are doing high intensity training like RP-21 and high intensity conditioning you will need to have some rest days. 4 or 5 total training days would be ideal for strength and muscle growth. Remember you do not want to be training so much that it takes away from your baseball game either. You want to be as fresh as possible when the game begins. If you keep doing both workouts without any rest, something will give in a bad way along the way. If I were you I would do this to optimize recovery but still make great strength gains.

Tues-RP-21 Lower Body
Weds-RP-21 Upper Body and P90x
Fri-RP-21 Lower Body
Sat-RP-21 Upper Body and P90x

By putting the P90x on the upper body days, you are not pre-fatiguing the legs before a lower body day. And I have found that the conditioning will actually help your legs not feel as sore from the lower body training day. Try out this split and see how it works for you.

Posted on: Fri, 01/24/2014 - 10:36

Hey could u pls tell me how to increase muscle without supplement

Eric Brown
Posted on: Fri, 01/24/2014 - 18:56

Hey Sanju, check out my response to your other question for the answer to this question. Thanks.

Posted on: Fri, 01/24/2014 - 06:26

I am doing gym since last 2 years. Bt didnt improve much.
I ate a lot. Tell me an idea to increase my muscle.
I dnt need to have a supplement.
Pls help me

Eric Brown
Posted on: Fri, 01/24/2014 - 18:55

Hey Sanju. Sorry to hear you did not make many improvements to your physique. The key to increasing the amount of muscle mass you have comes down to 3 basic principles which are Intensity, Nutrition, and Consistency. The intensity of your training, the proper nutrition plan for your goals, and the consistency of doing both. There are no magic training plans, supplements or diet schemes. Basic hard work always wins out. For you, I would advise you start with a base training scheme such as 5/3/1. That will keep you accountable as far as getting stronger and building muscle. As far eating goes it is not so much how much you eat, but more about what you eat. 3000 calories a day balanced of carbs, protein, and fats is supremely better than 3500 calories of anything you want. The body strives when things are balanced. Quality over quantity. Also, make you sure you are getting proper rest to let your muscles recover so that they can grow.

Eric Brown
Posted on: Thu, 01/23/2014 - 17:22

Hey everyone. I have a video overview of the RP-21 training system at my YouTube page. The link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCGzvBSmUg0. Check it out when you get the chance. Thanks and keep making progress.

Posted on: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 23:58

Hey guys!
I'm a marathon runner and am looking to build some serious muscle to get a bit stronger this year. I've been reading recently in a few studies that performing programs such as the RP-21, are very beneficial for runners trying to build more muscle and power. I am a little over weight for a female at my height, although I want to lose weight it's more important for me to build muscle and get stronger. Would you suggest this program for a person such as myself or would it be detrimental whilst doing such a high volume of cardio? Thanks!

Eric Brown
Posted on: Wed, 01/22/2014 - 09:49

Hey Meesh. It is important as a runner that you develop strength. But RP-21 and high volume cardio (running in this case) will create conflict if they are run at the same time. Recovery becomes an issue because the high volume cardio can take away from your progress in the gym. The high volume of running will limit the muscle and strength gains you will receive from RP-21. I think the better option would be to commit to one goal at a time vs two different goals simultaneously. I recommend RP-21 to you, but I would also recommend that you decrease the volume of your cardio for a period of time so that you can truly get the most out of RP-21.

Posted on: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 15:10

What rest pause scheme do you prefer to use for this workout as there are many out there? Thanks.

Eric Brown
Posted on: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 22:46

Hey B-rad. You can check the article out again to get more specifics, but the rest pause scheme being used for RP-21 is 7 sets of 3 reps with moderately heavy weight for the main move while resting one minute in between sets. The second part is 6 sets of 5 reps with moderate weight while resting thirty seconds in between sets.

Posted on: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 00:55

So I've almost ran this program for 3 weeks now and am going to cycle it with GVT next Monday. My only question is what can I do to target my shoulders adequately, while still maintaining strong chest and back movements. For example: Would it be worth it to do Bench Press for the first 3 weeks, cycle GVT, then switch bench for say Military Press? Just kind of feels like shoulder movements are lacking in the routine.

Any suggestions?

Eric Brown
Posted on: Tue, 01/21/2014 - 12:52

Hey Kyle. Good question you have posed here. In my opinion and based on my experience, I feel as if the front/rear delts and even the traps to a degree receive more than enough stimulation through standard pressing and pulling movements. That is the reason for low amount of shoulder movements. I do like to add in lateral raises to create that full shoulder look. If someone needs more shoulder work I do make adjustments with more of a focus on them. You have two options if you want to target your shoulders more. The first would be to run RP-21 as written and then put more of an emphasis on your shoulders during GVT. For example if you did a Chest/Back, Legs, and Shoulders/Arms split during GVT, your shoulders would receive more than enough work as they now have a separate day during GVT. The second would be to use the Military Press instead of the Bench Press during RP-21 and then run GVT with the same split as mentioned above. If you do it the second way then after 6 weeks of shoulder emphasis, you could go back to the Bench Press.

Posted on: Thu, 01/23/2014 - 19:00

Thanks for the reply Eric! I might just continue as to what's written for the time being and hold off swapping bench press out. Allow myself to get a larger sample size to determine if i really need to put more emphasis on shoulders. I do have another question though. I noticed you wrote doing a 3 week 'deload' and then later you wrote a one week. Granted GVT isn't so much a deload as it is a change of pace. What would you recommend doing? 1 week or 3 weeks of a high volume routine?

Posted on: Mon, 01/20/2014 - 19:33

This is some pretty good workout advice. One thing I totally stopped doing about two years ago was working out on the treadmill. It simply kills muscle gain. Since lifting the heaviest loads I possibly can without sustaining maximum injury, my heart rate has really dropped as I get in better shape. To me, that alone it worth lifting weights.

Eric Brown
Posted on: Mon, 01/20/2014 - 20:29

Hey Marty. I am glad you came to that conclusion as I agree with you wholeheartedly. For those looking to build a muscular and athletic physique, jogging on a treadmill or elliptical is a total waste of time. Especially when there are many more effective methods that can used for fat loss without the muscle loss. Heavy weight lifting is not typically thought of as conditioning which is totally wrong because as you have personally experienced, the heavy weights are making you more of a fit man. I think keeping it basic with the iron, tough conditioning like sprints, and great nutrition is all one needs. Keep lifting hard and even more success will be waiting for you.

Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2014 - 20:17

Wow this program sound amazing,me and my husband gonna started tomorrow,I'm so excited to start and see the results I love challenges.thank you!

Eric Brown
Posted on: Sun, 01/19/2014 - 21:27

Hey Helenis. I love challenges myself! RP-21 is a great program because you are held accountable each week with trying to get to your prescribed reps. Accountability breeds results because you are forced to get better. There is no value in training if you are not going to improve. Good luck with your success!