RPE stands for Rate of perceived exertion and it’s a great tool to utilise within your training.
We’re obsessed with numbers. What’s my 1 rep max? How fast is my 5km? What’s my body fat percentage? However it’s important to stay aware of how our bodies feel to achieve all of these milestones.
The layman explanation of RPE is simply a measurement of how hard you feel you’re exercising. It can be applied to any kind of exercise and correlates with how difficult/ easy you find the activity. It will give you vital insight into how to plan your exercise programs and will increase the longevity of your health and fitness journey.
Should I be adding more weight to the bar? Wow that was easy/ hard how should I add to the barbell? – These are examples of where RPE becomes useful…
The RPE scale in relation to strength training, ranging from 0-10:
0-5 Pretty easy should stay within this range for warm up or mobility/recovery sets.
6 Can be utilized for fasted work and higher rep ranges. Moves easily and you know you’ve got a few more reps left in you.
7 Requires more strength, generally around 5-7 reps
8 Hurts, rep range is around 2-4
9 Tough, at a push I might have one more rep in me.
10 Holy wows. So hard. Someone call my mum. Maxed out.
Progress can be sporadic. One day you’ll feel great and can push incredibly hard, and the next day you feel sluggish and distracted. Ignoring these changes can lead to either overtraining or underachieving so it’s important to identify your effort levels. By doing so you should be able to customise each workout better and reach your goals faster.
Using RPE is also a great tool not just to make sure you’re making the most of group classes, but also for your own programming. For example, perhaps you want to improve your backsquat over the next 6 weeks…Start by defining your reps, sets and what your initial RPE will look like. Increase your RPE as the weeks pass and you should end up with a stronger squat. By defining your RPE, you’re not going to fatigue too quickly and nor will you coast. You’ll have created a programme that will reap results, your performance will improve and you’ll likely enjoy training more having implemented a clearer regime.
You’ll notice that at The Space we’ve recently installed MyZone monitors to further help you determine your chosen RPE and whether you’re working smart in the gym. This technique is simple yet effective and will teach you to recognise your own body’s signs of exertion and modify your workouts accordingly.
Implementing RPE may seem incredibly simple, almost too simple. But don’t let this fool you. Whilst not always referred to as RPE, some just define percentages of their 1 rep max – this is a tried and tested system, infact all of our trainers use it within their personal programming! Ultimately it’s a simple technique but oh-boy is it effective.
If you have any questions or would like this better explained to then don’t hesitate to ask. We’re always here and happy to help. Happy RPE-ing.