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All You Need To Know About RPE (Rate of Perceived Effort)

Every have this happen? You come in to workout and there are percentages prescribed to the strength work and you think to yourself, "I don't know 75% of my back squat. I haven't been here on the past two squat days." Or ever come in and just not feeling your best but the workout says to go all out? There is a solution to these types of problems and it is called Rate of Perceived Effort or RPE.

RPE is a way to measure the intensity of your workouts based on your own perception of how hard you’re working. It’s represented on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very easy and 10 being very hard. Each number on the scale corresponds to a percentage of your maximum effort. For example, an RPE of 5 would be around 50% of your max for that given day. That last sentence is key here because your 70% today may not feel like your 70% tomorrow or the next day.

Using RPE in your training can be helpful for a number of reasons!

  • It helps you gauge the intensity of your workouts, especially if you’re trying to train at a specific intensity level like easy, moderate, or hard.

  • It helps you track your progress; as you get fitter, you should be able to do workouts that feel harder (higher RPE) with less effort.

  • It can help prevent overtraining or burnout by making sure you’re not consistently working out at a high intensity (RPE 8 or above).

RPE can be applied to both conditioning and strength training, with specific RPE values assigned to guide your performance. For example, if a workout is assigned an RPE of 7, it should feel like around 70% of your total perceived exertion. And if a strength training exercise is assigned an RPE of 9, it should feel like around 90% of your total perceived exertion.

Remember that since RPE is relative to the individual, you will notice different weights and paces being used from person to person. This is why it is key to leave your ego at the door and learn more about yourself. Trying to use the same weight as your homie in class or go at the same pace because you want to beat them is not the goal here. The goal is to be working on what is best for YOU.

We hope this helps and hope you feel this helps you find the right intensity for your training.

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