RIR vs RPE
More acronyms!?! A couple weeks ago I talked about and broke down what ROG and ROL stands for and how they are used. This time I want to talk about their 'cousins', which is RIR and RPE. They are a way to monitor and gauge intensity.
First, let's go over RIR, which stands for Reps In Reserve. This is how many repetitions you could get at the end of your set. For example, if you are squatting 150lbs and do 10 reps, but think you could have done 2 more, you would be at an 2RIR. So for this scale, a 0RIR is maximum effort whereas a 4RIR would mean you could do 4 more reps and a lower intensity effort.
RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion. This scale ranges from 10 being maximum effort to 1 being minimal. While it's similar to RIR as a measurement of intensity, there is a bit more range of scale to pick from. This is because it is really hard to gauge if you can do more than 4 more reps in a set, but you can more easily tell if something is a 50% effort (RPE 5.0).
Both methods can be utilized but when training at a higher intensity, I think RIR can be a bit more applicable versus RPE. However, RPE not only is easier to use at low intensity, it can also be used for other activities such as cardio (which is where this scale originally came from). Certainly they are both a bit subjective, but while it might be tough to tell the difference between a 1RIR and 2RIR, it is usually easy to determine between a 1RIR and a 4RIR.
You can still make progress in the gym without going to total failure and these intensity scales will not just help you with the gains but also keep recovery happening.