What is RIR?

Reps in Reserve (RIR) – the secret sauce behind your effort levels

Reps in reserve measures the number of additional repetitions one can perform before reaching a point where you can’t lift the weight any further or your muscles feel like they’re gonna explode!

By understanding the significance of this concept, you will increase the results you see in the gym and understand how to self-regulate and adjust your training to match the reps given on a program.

RIR can transform your workouts and results!

It’s a key indicator of effort level and a safeguard against overexertion and injury as well as increase the progress you’re looking for.

There is a similarity between the RPE scale and RIR. They basically work together.

By elucidating the similarities and differences between the two you’ll increase your gym IQ to Einstein levels.

Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) can be used for both a cardio based effort or weight lifting whereas RIR is only for lifting. 

If your RPE on a bench press would be 8, therefore, 80% of your best, then the RIR would be 2. The most amount of reps you can do with good form would be the RPE and the remainder to equal 100% would be RIR.

They work as inverse to one another.

Incorporating reps in reserve during weightlifting sessions can help you push yourself to create adaptations to training without driving yourself into the ground every set and every workout. 

I typically want people to hit 2 on RIR for most exercises most of the time. There are times it will be 3-4 (maybe they’re not feeling well or in an unload week), times that it’s 1 and times that it’s 0. 

The vast majority of the time it will be 1-2 or 85% of your best if using the RPE scale.

Now, looking at a program design you can self regulate what the weight should be. 

I want people to be within a range of reps to create the stress we’re looking for to create the progress you want. 

If the program says 8 reps and you do that but feel you could have done 5 more than you’re not training heavy enough. 

That is a clear indicator that you need to bump the weight up for the next set. I would also tell someone to not just stop at 8 if you could do 4-5 more reps, do those reps and the next round we’ll bump it up. 

There’s no point (for most sets and most people) to stop when you could have done more.

If I’m working on a pure strength program with someone then this would look a bit different but that explanation is for another article.

This will also train your mental state to push through the uncomfortable point that you wanna stop. 

I’m training that big juicy brain too while we’re at it!

Most people are stronger than they think they are and capable of doing much more but limit their beliefs and limit themselves.

The entire basis for training is about putting in enough of an effort to challenge your system. If you recover properly your body will adapt and get better. 

Although this seems like a minor aspect of training it really covers the most fundamental portion of making progress. 

If you can learn to harness the power of RIR and know how to adapt and apply your effort to each set you perform, your result will be far greater than without using this system.

Free Recipe Book

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive your FREE copy of our top mouthwatering dinner recipes, perfect for busy parents!