Reps in Reserve RIR: The Perfect Muscle-Building Toolkit

Reps in Reserve RIR: The Workout Method For Effective Gains

Reps In Reserve (RIR) are the number of reps or repetitions you can accomplish before hitting a technical failure or before you miss a lift. And technical failure means that you cannot do another rep without proper form. Therefore, RIR is an effective tool to measure the intensity of your workout. 

Let’s say you do 12 reps in your regular work set. After that, if you can do three more with proper form, then 3 is your RIR. So simply put, Reps In Reserve RIR measures the extra reps. 

Now that we have discussed RIR, let’s dive into its benefits.

How is RIR Beneficial?

RIR reaffirms the fact that hard work is as important as smart work. It helps you train smart by allowing you to push yourself but only to the right extent. And including RIR in your training programme to build your muscle brings forth some major benefits. 

Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Maximizes Muscle Growth And Helps Hit Volume Targets

The Reps In Reserve RIR method is an excellent way to improve your strength development and muscle hypertrophy. That’s because it ensures that you’re constantly improving and training hard.

Excessive fatigue from overview working can make it difficult to meet the required training volume needed for maximum muscle growth. This happens both during individual workout sessions and overlong training cycles. 

Reps In Reserve RIR keeps you 1-3 reps close to the failure training zone. This allows you to maximize muscle growth while minimizing the exhaustion of exercising close to failure. It is just the right effort to initiate muscle growth and development without overworking yourself. 

Hence, by incorporating RIR, we can keep track of our intensity. RIR ensures that we are working our best to stimulate the proper muscle growth without jeopardizing our capacity for volume completion.

Helps Accomplish Progressive Overload

Reps In Reserve RIR are an alternative way to assess progressive overload. It happens once you’ve gained adequate experience to gauge your rep max effectively. 

If you consistently exceed the RIR target you set for yourself, it means you have completed your working sets, and there are more reps left in the tank. Now, since you have more reps left, you can increase your training intensity by increasing the sets, weight, or reps. 

If the RIR for a particular exercise grows with time, it’s a sign that you’re getting stronger.

Maintains Intensity Despite an Imbalanced Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors like sleep, diet, stress and anxiety affect your training plan and fitness levels. They take a serious toll on your performance and endurance in the gym and, thus, hinder your progress. 

Reps In Reserve RIR helps sustain intensity despite these imbalances. Some days you’ll be on an energy boost and smash your PR’s (Personal Records), while other days, you might struggle with completing a set. 

And RIR solves this issue from the root as it can be utilised to ‘stabilise’ your efforts throughout different energy levels during training. In addition, it can be used as a gauge of intensity regardless of the weights you lift or reps you accomplish if you have enough practice. 

For instance, on a Monday, you might accomplish four sets of 70kgs bench press. And even after ten repetitions, you might have 2-3 reps left in the RIR. 

But maybe by Friday, after 3 days of hectic work and less sleep, you work your initial bench set at 70kgs but end up reaching failure at 8 reps. 

Therefore, now you lower the current weight at 60 kgs, complete 10 reps and manage your RIR at 2-3 reps for the remaining sets. 

Yes, you were close to failure, but you managed to work out with that same intensity while accepting the lower energy levels you had that day. Hence you made progress and pushed hard enough. This helps in the overall growth of your muscles.

Negated Inconsistencies Arising From RM

Using Reps In Reserve RIR to set weight repetition and training volume helps eliminate discrepancies that arise when the number of extra weights that you can manage does not sync properly. These inconsistencies may develop when using one rep maxes RM like a starting point in your workout. 

It is a good idea to plan your workouts around your maximum lifts. Nevertheless, you must acknowledge that a one-time performance measure, like 1RM, is subject to a one day influence such as increased alertness and proper recovery. 

Even after setting an accurate rep max of 1, your weightlifting performance would vary on every session. 

This implies that training at 80 per cent of the one-rep max will be easier sometimes, while difficult to achieve on the other. Reps In Reserve RIR assists in smoothing out these rough edges by managing your efforts on daily performance. 

How To Include RIR In Your Training?

Include RIR In Your Training

Incorporating Reps In Reserve RIR in your training sessions is not complex but requires practice. For example, when setting your working weight, using RIR helps keep your inputs in a hypertrophic spot of training just near to failure. Experts believe that if you primarily focus on hypertrophy, then this proves to be the optimal state for a workout. The aim should be training for 1-3 RIR per working set.

To stay consistent in this range, record the RIR for every set and adjust reps and weights per session or week.

Once you’ve reached your comfort zone, try to increase the reps or weight. Tracking your performance in RIR will allow you to evaluate when you are ready to progress in reps or weights for any workout.

Reps In Reserve RIR helps build up your intensity gradually over weeks. However, as established, RIR requires constant efforts and to even practise it, you’d require to be fully conscious and aware of your movements.


To ace strength training, proper form, training plan, and proper nutrition should be regularly practised. Similarly, Reps In Reserve RIR needs regular and consistent practice too. It is a great technique for gauging efforts and improving your workout.

In the beginning, you might struggle to understand how many reps are left close to failure; it’s part of the process. But with proper guidance from expert trainers, you will be able to be aware and pay attention to how close you’re to failure.

Hence Reps In Reserve RIR will help you measure your efforts accurately and, thus, work harder and smarter towards your goals. 



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