How to Measure Your Training Intensity!

Did you know training intensity is one of the most important factors in whether or not you make progress on your physique goals? If we don't challenge our muscles in the gym, they won't grow, so making sure we're giving it our full effort is crucial. That's why today we're going over two ways to assess your training intensity!

The two most common ways to prescribe training intensity within resistance training programming for the general population are "RPE" and "RIR." The Borg CR-10 Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale is a perceived scale; RPE is an intensity that is gauged by how the client "feels." The Borg CR-10 RPE Scale was adapted from the original Borg RPE Scale of 6-20, which was for aerobic exercise.

The 0 below is an indication of zero effort, while the 10 is an indication of maximal effort, as strong of an effort as possible.

Reps In Reserve (RIR) refers to how many more reps you could perform before reaching failure. This indication will allow you to pick a weight according to the intensity prescribed for a specific exercise while also taking into consideration how you are feeling. Using RIR allows you to make sure you are using weights that leave you with the same intensity of training no matter your strength that day.

RIR Examples


Example 1: DB RDL for 12 reps with 1 RIR
Your goal is to pick a weight that you can perform 12 reps with while only having 1 possible rep left in the tank. If you were to train to actual failure you could have only performed 13 reps with this weight.
Some days performing an RDL with 50lb DB’s may be a breeze but on others 40lb’s may leave you trembling. As long as the weight you choose allows you to hit that 12 rep mark while only leaving 1 rep in the tank, the intensity of that exercise is perfect! This way it really doesn’t matter if your strength was up at that 50lb mark or a little lower only allowing you to move the 40lb’s, you are reaching the same intensity with the workout.
Example 2: Barbell Squat for 8 reps with 2 RIR
This means you should be performing 8 reps with only 2 possible reps left before hitting failure.
Example 3: Leg Press for 15 reps with 4 RIR
Since you are leaving 4 reps in reserve (in the tank), that means using this exact weight should have had you hitting failure at 19 reps!