Back to All Stories

What Is The Rep Effect Training Method and How Does It Work?

Going harder doesn’t always mean going heavier.

Coach Tim Landicho doing a goblet squat as part of a rep effect protocol.

Lighter weight doesn’t have to mean an easier workout. That’s the advantage of the rep effect, a training technique that involves lifting high reps at a slightly reduced weight. Rep effect workouts will push your limits by encouraging you to accumulate as much time under tension as possible within a session to drive lean muscle gains, torch calories, and improve overall body composition. Plus, these sweat-packed sets take your stamina and work capacity to the next level so you can push harder, for longer, in all your workouts.

What is the Rep Effect?

In rep effect workouts, each block includes a “giant set” of moves that involve the same muscle group working in the same movement pattern, explains John Christie, director of Applied Training Science at Tonal. You’ll typically work in duration-based sets with minimal rest in between exercises. These sets can be as long as six to nine minutes of straight work. The goal here is to maximize time under tension and rack up lots of volume for a specific muscle group. 

“You’re training with the pace and intent to fully exhaust the muscle tissue,” says Christie. 

The Rep Effect
How: Perform high-rep sets targeting the same muscle group with reduced weight.  
Why: Accumulate as much time under tension as possible to build muscle, improve stamina, and burn calories.

To allow for the high quantity of reps in these workouts without sacrificing the quality of your form, you’ll usually lift reduced weights for these exercises. This also may help mitigate post-workout soreness and fatigue so you’ll be ready to go all-out in your next session.

In a full-body rep effect workout, you might start with a lower-body focused block that involves all squat variations, progress to an upper-body round with all pressing exercises, and then finish with an all-core block.

What Are the Benefits of the Rep Effect?

By overloading muscles in high-volume sets, rep effect workouts drive lean muscle growth. Additionally, the quick pace of these sessions boosts your stamina, or the ability to handle more work in the same amount of time, and gets your heart rate up to improve your cardiovascular fitness. 

“Because you’re essentially doing as much work as you can stomach over six to nine minutes of tension, you’re going to burn a lot of calories,” says Christie. These action-packed, non-stop blocks tax your muscles as you build your work capacity, or the ability to lift more in the same amount of time. Duration-based sets put you in the driver’s seat, empowering you to work at a pace that feels sustainable yet still challenging. By the final rep, you should be feeling a serious burn. 

Additionally, by repeating movement patterns within a set, you’re going to approach the point of muscle fatigue that drives hypertrophy—even though you’re lifting slightly lighter weights. According to one study, lighter weights can be just as effective as heavier ones when you’re trying to build muscle. This combination of burning fat while building muscle contributes to a positive shift in body composition.

Rep Effect Workouts on Tonal

Experience the rep effect in action in one of these coach-led workouts. Tonal’s adaptive digital weight also dials in the perfect resistance for every exercise so you can keep repping it out while still challenging your muscles. 

The Rep Effect: Full-Body Pump – Coach Tanysha Renee

The Rep Effect: Full-Body Pump - Coach Tanysha Renee

This four-week program uses the rep effect technique in every workout to build lean muscle, burn calories, and improve your overall body composition. 

The Rep Effect – Coach Tim Landicho

The Rep Effect - Coach Tim Landicho

This non-stop full-body workout includes blocks dedicated to your glutes, chest, arms, and shoulders. You’ll work each muscle group until you’re just about ready to tap out, then transition quickly to the next.

The Rep Effect: More Core – Coach Ackeem Emmons

The Rep Effect: More Core - Coach Ackeem Emmons

In this advanced, high-intensity workout, you’ll burn out all your major muscle groups and then finish off with a challenging core block. The variety of exercises and short rest periods will keep you on your toes the entire time.