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Unleashing the Power of Training with Percentages, RPE, and RIR.

Training with percentages, Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), and Reps in Reserve (RIR) is a strategic approach to programming your workouts. These methods allow you to tailor your training to your individual capabilities, monitor and adjust your intensity, and ensure effective progress towards your fitness goals. In this article, we will explore what training with percentages, RPE, and RIR mean, provide examples of how to implement them, and guide you on how to program them effectively.

Understanding Training with Percentages


Training with percentages involves basing your workout intensity on a percentage of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) - the maximum weight you can lift for a single repetition. By using percentages, you can adjust the load of your exercises to match your goals and track your progress accurately. The percentages are typically based on your current strength level and the desired training stimulus. For example, a program might prescribe lifting at 75% of your 1RM for a given exercise to develop strength.


Power of Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)


Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a subjective measure of how hard an exercise feels to you on a scale from 1 to 10. It allows you to monitor your exertion level during exercises that may not be appropriate for percentage-based programming or when you need to adjust for factors like fatigue or recovery. RPE takes into account factors beyond just weight, such as technique, fatigue, motivation, and overall effort. An RPE of 8 out of 10, for example, signifies that you feel like you could have completed 2 more reps.


 Reps in Reserve (RIR): Listen to Your Body


Reps in Reserve (RIR) is a concept closely related to RPE. It indicates the number of additional reps you could have performed before reaching failure. For instance, if you complete a set and feel like you had 2 reps left in the tank, your RIR would be 2. RIR helps you dose your training intensity by giving you feedback on how close you are pushing to your limits. By leaving a certain number of reps in reserve, you can regulate the overall stress on your body and reduce the risk of overtraining, injury, or burnout.

%, RPE and RIR Table


Programming Examples Incorporating Percentages, RPE, and RIR


 Example 1: Strength Training with Percentages.


Let's say your current 1RM for the bench press is 100kg and your goal is to increase your maximal strength. You might program a workout as follows:


*   Bench Press: 5 sets of 3 reps at 85% of your 1RM.

*   Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 8 reps at an RPE of 7-8.

*   Tricep Pushdowns: 3 sets of 12 reps at an RPE of 6-7.


By using percentages for the bench press, you ensure you are training at an appropriate intensity for strength development. The RPE values for the other exercises allow you to gauge your exertion level and adjust based on how you're feeling, providing a flexible approach within a structured workout.

 Example 2: Autoregulation with RPE and RIR


Autoregulation allows you to adjust your training on the fly based on daily fluctuations in strength and recovery. Here's an example of an autoregulated workout:


*   Back Squat: Work up to a heavy set of 3 reps, keeping an RPE of 8-9.

*   Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 8 reps at an RIR of 1-2.

*   Single-leg Leg Press: 3 sets of 12 reps at an RIR of 2-3.


In this example, you determine the load for the heavy set of squats based on how the weight feels during warm-up sets, keeping the RPE within the prescribed range. For the remaining exercises, you choose a weight and adjust your reps to match the designated RIR, allowing you to regulate your exertion level and manage fatigue.

When programming your workouts, consider the following tips:


1.  Set clear goals: Identify whether your focus is on strength, hypertrophy, or endurance and choose the appropriate training parameters (percentage, RPE, or RIR) accordingly.

2.  Monitor and adjust: Regularly evaluate your progress, adjust percentages or RPEs as needed, and listen to your body in terms of RIR to ensure you're training optimally.

3.  Plan for variation: Incorporate both percentage-based and autoregulated workouts to provide a well-rounded training stimulus and accommodate variations in strength and recovery.

4.  Communicate effectively: If working with a coach, ensure you communicate your RPE or RIR accurately to receive appropriate guidance and adjustments.


By combining the precision of percentages, the flexibility of RPE, and the feedback of RIR, you can create a well-structured and adaptable training program that aligns with your goals and individual capabilities.

Final Thoughts


Training with percentages, RPE, and RIR offers a comprehensive approach to optimising your workouts. These methods provide you with the flexibility to adjust your training intensity based on various factors, ensuring you're training effectively and minimising the risk of overtraining or injuries. Incorporating a combination of these techniques allows for a well-rounded and adaptable training program that ultimately helps you achieve your fitness goals. Embrace the power of percentages, RPE, and RIR to unlock your true potential in the gym.

Learn how to use percentages, RPE and RIR for body weight training here!

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.

For more guidance click here!

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