What is RPE and RIR Training?

RPE and RIR Training!

RPE and RIR training is not just designed to make you RIP! RPE and RIR are terms that are being used a lot more frequently in the strength training world. So what do these terms actually mean and why or how do we use them?

But first, a little background:

RPE stands for Rating of Perceived Exertion and RIR stands for Reps in Reserve. RPE/RIR is a system used to subjectively describe how intense or hard you are exerting yourself in a given set of reps and can be great way to prescribe and progress your training instead of using a percentage of your 1RM which we know can change day to day.

The RPE scale used mostly for strength training is a 1-10 scale from easy to hard, Whereas RIR is based on how many reps you perceive that you had in reserve at the end of a set( “reps left in the tank”).

The RPE/RIR charts can also go hand in hand together. For example, an RPE 8 is equivalent to a 2RIR and 6RPE is equivalent to a 4RIR. Here is a chart below of both the scales.

What is RPE? How can it get me better results? — Treadaway Training

Why is RPE/RIR effective and why do we use it?

The reason we use RPE/RIR is because it takes into account the day to day and week to week stressors of life and allows us to auto-regulate the intensity(weight) depending on how we are feeling at the present time. This is why it’s a great alternative to %1RM training, as one of the cons of 1RM Max testing is that it does not take into account day to day performance fluctuations. Your body only recognises tension/stimulus not 74.5KG or whatever is on the bar, hence why RPE/RIR is so effective.

How can RPE/RIR be structured?

RPE/RIR training can be structured very similarly to %1RM training with the idea to increase the intensity over time. this can be done by increasing the RPE/RIR session by session for a couple of weeks and then backing off for a 1 week deload to allow your body to recover and adapt to the previous training completed. Here is some examples below.

WK 1:

  • 5×5 @ RPE 7/RIR 3

WK 2:

  • 5×5 @ RPE 8/RIR 2

WK 3:

  • 5×5 @ RPE 9/RIR 1

WK 4: Deload

  • 3×5 @ RPE 5/RIR 5

As always if you want to know more or need a bit more of a structured approach to your training, make sure you reach out to one of the trainers here at RevoPT!