Ability to predict repetitions to momentary failure is not perfectly accurate, though improves with resistance training experience

Repetitions in Reserve’ (RIR) scales in resistance training (RT) are used to control effort but assume people accurately predict performance a priori (i.e. the number of possible repetitions to momentary failure (MF)). This study examined the ability of trainees with different experience levels to predict number of repetitions to MF. One hundred and forty-one participants underwent a full body RT session involving single sets to MF and were asked to predict the number of repetitions they could complete before reaching MF on each exercise. Participants underpredicted the number of repetitions they could perform to MF (Standard error of measurements [95% confidence intervals] for combined sample ranged between 2.64 [2.36-2.99] and 3.38 [3.02-3.83]). There was a tendency towards improved accuracy with greater experience. Ability to predict repetitions to MF is not perfectly accurate among most trainees though may improve with experience. Thus, RIR should be used cautiously in prescription of RT. Trainers and trainees should be aware of this as it may have implications for the attainment of training goals, particularly muscular hypertrophy.

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