Reps In Reserve


RIR? Never heard of it!

Repetitions-in-Reserve is a fairly new concept of training but what it is revolved around has been around for quite a while. RIR training has been developed out of the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale used to measure intensity during training.

Got it! But tell me more!

RIR training is a way in which the client can regulate their training based on how they are feeling THAT day – which is a major plus. It’s not every day that you are going to come into the weight room feeling like a beast as a lot of variables can dictate your performance, strength, and endurance. These variable include prior day nutrition, sleep quality, soreness, outside stressors (work, relationships, etc) and more. The goal of RIR training is to maximize your intensity that day and make sure you are working at an appropriate RPE at all times. Because RPE is other hard to measure on the spot, using RIR can provide you with an easy way to measure intensity. In general, you want to sheet for 1-2 Reps-In-Reserve upon completion of the exercise. This will ensure that your intensity is staying elevated. 1-2 Reps-In-Reserve means that, if you are set to complete a set of 10 reps on squat, you would want to select a weight that you might be able to do 11 or 12 times.

Hmm. It’s starting to make sense but give me an example!

Here is how you would apply RIR training for your next workout! Say you walk into the gym and you are not feeling so hot. You are programmed to do 135 pounds on the bench that day for a total of 8 reps. On your first set, you notice that 135 pounds felt super tough and you were only able to get 7 reps before hitting failure. Applying RIR, you would seek to lower the weight that you using in the next set in such a way that you are able to complete the set AND have 1-2 reps in reserve.

And conversely, say that you enter the gym feeling unstoppable. You set up on the bench and you are ready to complete 135 pounds for 8 reps. Upon completion of that exercise, you notice that you could have easily completed 12 reps on that set. Using RIR, you would then increase the weight to a weight in which you might be only able to complete 9-10 reps.

I guess that makes sense! Are there any more benefits?

I think the biggest benefit that RIR training provides, is that the person using it can regulate their training on the spot – not only day to day but from set to set as well. While using specific weights for your programs looks good, it’s not always practical. Some days you are stronger, some days you are weaker. RIR, again, provides the person with an excellent way to maintain intensity levels in the gym no matter how they are feeling that day.