What Are Some Ways To Monitor Strength Training Intensity

Strength training has so many benefits to athletes and overall health in general. Although a common mistake is when intensity isn’t high enough to yield maximum benefits. To build strength, intensity needs to be high enough to challenge our muscles near their FULL capacity.

Maximizing the benefit of time spent training is very important for seeing results and being productive with your training in general. Monitoring your strength training intensity is one way to ensure consistency and benefit with strength training sessions.

The two methods of intensity monitoring for strength training that I like are Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and Reps in Reserve (RIR). These scales are basically the reverse of each other. RPE monitors the overall rating of difficulty of an exercise during a single set, whereas RIR requires one to reflect on how many more repetitions they could perform within a set before failure.

The difficulty of an exercise can be very subjective and variable depending on the day and other factors, but these scales allow us to be as objective as possible.

Now, when it comes to the question of “how intensely should I be lifting,” it’s very individualized and is going to depend on your experience, goals, etc.

In general, when trying to build strength, if your exercises are more than 8-10 reps per set and performed below a 7/10 RPE, or 4+ RIR, chances are you’re grossly underloading your body and missing out on serious progress. Aiming for as close to 3-5 reps per set as you are comfortable is a good tip. I strongly recommend working with a strength coach if you’re having trouble with exercise selection or prescription.

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