Repetition Reserve – The trick to feeling good you’re not using

Repetition reserve is one of the most important training variables when it comes to looking and feeling good, but it’s not one that many people pay attention to. If you are seeking peak performance or aspire to be a competitive body shape athlete then this variable won’t be as a applicable, but for the vast majority of people who aim to improve overall well being knowing how many reps to leave in the bank is vital.

Working out is often associated with pushing the body to and even beyond its limits. Now this has its place and can produce great results, but the risk to reward is very high. Approaching all training with this mentality greatly increases the risk of injury and will ultimately lead to burnout.


At aps we’ve learnt the value (through much trial and error) of approaching the majority of our training sessions with the idea of having fun, challenging the body to learn, getting the blood pumping and walking away feeling energised. Achieving these outcomes doesn’t require failure. Instead we can use a repetition reserve to helps us progress whilst maintaining good energy for the forthcoming days after training.

Repetition reserve (RR) – The number of good reps you have left in you at the completion of an exercise set.

General guidelines:

  • On a normal training day when you’re feeling good, you want to aim for a two repetition reserve (2RR) on every set.
  • If you’re feeling groggy, achy or low on energy, a 50% RR to the reps completed is what you’re aiming for. e.g. a set of 8 reps would require a RR of 4.
  • Very occasionally when you really feel up for it throw the repetition reserve out of the window and work to failure. When doing this make sure you have spent time getting a good foundation of fitness under you and thoroughly warm up before hand.

It will probably seem alien at first to stop an exercise deliberately before failing, but after trying it for a few weeks you’ll come to relish the fact you have energy left over and this is key for looking and feeling at your best!

Live healthy,

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