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Understanding Percentages, RPE, and RIR in a Body Weight Program

Are you interested in taking your body weight training program to the next level? Understanding how to program percentages, as well as the concepts of RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) and RIR (Repetitions in Reserve), can help you maximize your workouts and achieve better results. In this article, we will dive deep into each of these concepts and provide examples to help you apply them effectively.

Check out our last blog about Percentages, RPE and RIR for more info, along with some examples for your weight training sessions.


Programming Percentages in Body Weight Training


When it comes to programming percentages, it's all about determining the intensity or effort level for each exercise based on a percentage of your maximum capacity. This can be particularly useful for tracking progress and ensuring that you are challenging yourself appropriately. Here's how you can use percentages in your body weight program:


1. Determining Your Maximum.

 Before you can program percentages, it's important to establish your maximum capacity for an exercise. This could be the maximum number of reps you can perform with perfect form or the hardest progression you can achieve for a specific exercise.

2.  **Choosing an Intensity** - Once you know your maximum, you can program different intensities based on specific percentages. For example, if your maximum for push-ups is 20 reps, you could program 80% intensity by performing 4 sets of 16 reps.

3.  **Adjusting Intensity** - As you progress and build strength, you can adjust the intensity by increasing the percentage. This ensures continuous challenge and growth in your body weight program.


Understanding RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion).


RPE is a subjective measure of how hard an exercise feels to you on a scale from 1 to 10. It helps you gauge and adjust your effort levels during a workout. Here's how RPE can be applied in a body weight program:

%, RPE and RIR Table





1. Rating Your Effort

 After completing a set, you rate the exertion level of that set on a scale of 1 to 10. A rating of 1 would indicate very light exertion, while a rating of 10 represents maximum effort.

2. Using RPE to Adjust

 Based on your RPE, you can adjust the intensity of your workout accordingly. If a set felt too easy, you can increase the difficulty, and if it felt too challenging, you may need to decrease the intensity to ensure proper form and prevent injury.


Incorporating RIR (Repetitions in Reserve).


RIR is similar to RPE but focuses on the number of reps you have left in the tank. It helps determine how many more reps you could have performed before reaching failure. Here's how RIR fits into a body weight training program:


1. Counting Repetitions in Reserve.

 After completing a set, you estimate the number of reps you had left in the tank before reaching failure. For example, if you could have completed 2 more reps before failure, your RIR would be 2.


2.  Using RIR to Monitor Progress.

RIR can be used to track progress over time. If you consistently have a higher RIR, it indicates that you are getting stronger and can increase the intensity of your workouts.


Examples of Programming Percentages, RPE, and RIR.


To illustrate how these concepts can be applied in a body weight program, here are a few examples:


1.  Push-up Program.

Let's say your maximum push-up capacity is 20 reps. You decide to program 3 sets of push-ups at 80% intensity, which would be 16 reps (if 20 is your max). After completing each set, you rate the exertion levels using RPE. If the first set felt relatively easy, you could increase the intensity to 85% (17 reps) for the second set. In this case, RIR would also increase because you had more reps left in the tank.


2.  Squat Program

 If your maximum squat capacity is 10 reps, you could program a squat session at 70% intensity (7 reps). After completing the set, you rate the exertion level using RPE. If you feel like you had 4 more reps left in the tank, you can adjust the intensity and aim for a higher percentage in the next session.

Disclaimer: Before starting any new exercise program, consult with a qualified fitness professional or healthcare provider to determine if it's suitable for your fitness level and overall health condition.


By incorporating percentages, RPE, and RIR in your body weight program, you can fine-tune your workouts, track progress, and achieve better results. Remember to always listen to your body and adjust the intensity accordingly.

Happy training!

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