Reps in Reserve (RIR)

Reps in Reserve (RIR) is the amount of reps you have left in the tank after completing a set or in other words, how many more reps could you have done before reaching failure on a set. One of the most common things that hold people back from continuing to make progress is simply not pushing hard enough. People often choose a weight that is too light for the given number of reps they are doing e.g doing a set of 10 reps with a weight that they could actually manage to do 20 reps with if they gave full effort and pushed past their comfort zone. RIR allows us to work within a specific proximity to failure and structure a training block with the aim of increasing either weight or reps each week, thus, decreasing RIR.


Example periodization scheme:

Week 1: 4RIR

Week 2: 3RIR

Week 3: 2RIR

Week 4: 1RIR

Week 5: 0RIR/failure

Week 6: Deload


Here’s an example: 

In week 1, your aim is to do a set of 10 reps on back squats at 4RIR. You would pick a weight that would allow you to max out at 14 reps and fail if you tried to do 15. Then in week 2, you add a small amount of weight to the bar (maybe 1-3kg) to allow you to do 10 reps at 3RIR.



One limitation of the RIR method is that if you are not familiar with how strong you are in a given rep range on specific exercises, it can be hard to accurately estimate how many reps you have left in the tank. This is why becoming more in tune with your body and becoming more familiar with how much you can push yourself during the last few reps of a set is so important. Implementing RIR correctly is a skill and like anything, the more you practise it the better you will become. 


If this all sounds a bit too complicated, don’t worry. Contact us to start working with one of our S&C coaches who will implement everything you need to get the results you want.

Reps in Reserve