What are RPE and RIR in strength training?

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and Reps in Reserve (RIR) are two similar but different ways of subjectively assessing how hard a set is in strength training. When used effectively, they are a great compliment to velocity based training giving lifters even greater control and insight into their training, fatigue and progression.

RPE and RIR are fundamentally doing the same thing - scoring your proximity to failure, but in subtly different ways.

RPE - Rate of perceived exertion (10 is max)

RPE is a scale commonly used to measure the intensity of a training set. It's based on how hard you feel you are working. The scale starts at a 5.5 (anything lower is too easy and a warm-up)and goes up in increments of 0.5 until it reaches a 10 meaning an absolute rep max set with no more reps possible on that set.  

RIR - Reps in reserve (0 is max)

RIR is a more literal translation of your proximity to a maximum set. The score in RIR training is a more literal reference to the number of reps you have left in the tank after completing a set. For instance, an RIR of 1 means you could have performed one more rep before failure, an RIR or 3 means you had 3 more reps for that set.

Logging RPE and RIR in Metric

You can choose to log RPE or RIR for every set in your workout with the Metric app. To enable this feature go to AccountTraining preferences in the Metric app and select your preferred method of logging this data. RPE/RIR is an optional metric so if you prefer you can also disable this feature and you will not be prompted to score each set.

When enabled, the app will prompt you to enter an RPE/RIR score immediately after you stop recording for a velocity-tracked exercise. For manual entry exercises, simply log the score before marking a set complete.

Understanding that preferences vary, the Metric app gives you the option to enable or disable the RPE/RIR feature. If you prefer not to use these self-assessment tools, you can easily choose to disable this feature in the app settings, tailoring the app to your training style.

Learn more: VBTcoach blog on RPE, RIR and last rep velocity →