2 Tips to Get Higher at Score RPE

Price of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is the first device we use to prescribe load/depth for our lifters. It helps us autoregulate the load on the bar primarily based on how the lifter is feeling on a given day. Autoregulation permits our lifters to push tougher once they really feel nice, pull again once they don’t really feel good, and make on-the-fly changes to the coaching plan. 

I’ve written a ton about RPE-based coaching so I’m not going to go deep into what it’s. You may learn all about it right here:

Selecting the Weight on the Bar: Proportion, RPE and RIR – half 1

Selecting the Weight on the Bar: Proportion, RPE and RIR – half 2

A 4-Step Course of for Selecting the Proper Weight to Raise

My outdated pal Jamie Smith, founding father of Melbourne Energy Tradition in Australia, posted a meme the opposite day that impressed this weblog. He poked enjoyable at the concept newcomers shouldn’t use RPE. You’ll hear many coaches complain that newcomers are horrible at score their very own RPE so that they shouldn’t use it. However that’s the entire level: they’re unhealthy at judging their very own skills, so now we have to show them how you can do it higher. RPE is a straightforward framework with universally-understandable language they will use to be taught to “hearken to their physique.” 

“Rookies suck at RPE” is a lazy mindset. Would you keep away from educating a newbie how you can squat as a result of their squat method sucked on day one? In fact not.

Within the spirit of coaches really doing the job they’re paid to do, listed here are two methods coaches and lifters can use to assist novices get higher at utilizing RPE to evaluate their very own efficiency:


After I’m working with a brand new lifter, earlier than I even point out the phrase RPE, I ask them after a set is over, “Was that straightforward, medium or arduous?”

With no additional context, I await their reply. I attempt my finest to not affect their reply primarily based on what I noticed throughout the set. My enter solely interferes with their means to discover ways to self-assess their effort. I solely give them recommendation on what to do on the subsequent set. 

If they are saying “straightforward” and so they carried out the earlier set with acceptable method, I inform them to go up in weight. I clarify that as a novice, they will get lots robust with mild weights, however that there’s room to extend the load whereas nonetheless difficult themselves appropriately.

If they are saying “medium”, I inform them that’s an amazing place to be. We’ll usually hold the load the identical for the subsequent set.

If they are saying “arduous”, I’ll give them a selection: 1) keep on the similar weight, however be prepared to cut back the load if they will’t hit the goal rep vary or preserve acceptable method, or 2) go down in weight to one thing that feels extra like “medium”. As soon as once more, I’ll clarify that within the early levels of their lifting journey, method is all that issues. I don’t care how heavy the load is as a result of they’ll make progress with easy-to-medium weights.

Earlier than the tip of the session, I’ll deliver the lifter over to our whiteboard and clarify the RPE scale. I’ll present them the size of 1-10, and correlate straightforward/medium/arduous to the numbers on the board. It seems to be one thing like this:

Was that straightforward, medium or arduous? RPE score
Arduous 10
Medium 7
Simple 4

These ranges assist the lifter perceive the place we need to “dwell” throughout most of our coaching. Dwelling within the medium vary makes for challenging-yet-sustainable coaching for a newbie. We will sneak into arduous territory each from time to time, however no have to arrange camp there on a regular basis lest our method falls aside. The simple vary is reserved for warm-ups and is probably going too mild to drive progress.

AMRAP Units to Gauge RPE

Essentially the most widely-accepted solution to choose RPE is to ask your self after a set is over, “What number of reps did I go away within the tank?” That quantity is subtracted from 10, and that’s your RPE. For instance:

What number of reps did I go away within the tank? RPE
0 10
1 9
2 8
3 7

That is nonetheless my most popular solution to choose RPE, however right here’s the place these darn newcomers begin inflicting issues. Rookies are notoriously unhealthy at understanding what number of reps they’ve within the tank. However guess what? That’s not their fault. They haven’t any context. They don’t know what they’re able to but. It’s the coach’s job to show them.

A dependable technique to show them: AMRAP (as many reps as doable) units. You may’t know what number of reps are within the tank till you’ve emptied the tank. 

With our newer lifters, we’ll typically prescribe a number of straight units through RPE, then do an AMRAP set on the similar weight. This checks the accuracy of the lifter’s RPE score. For instance, if the task is 3 units x 5 reps @ 7 RPE, then an AMRAP on the similar weight, the lifter ought to most likely get 7-8 reps on the AMRAP set. By definition, units of 5 @ 7 RPE is an 8-rep max (however after doing a couple of units, fatigue might set in so we’d settle for a dropoff in reps on the AMRAP). If the lifter will get far more than 8 reps on the AMRAP, we all know they undershot their RPE score and so they’re instructed to go heavier subsequent time. 

Novice lifters usually undershoot their RPEs. It is a good factor. Higher to start out too straightforward and too mild than too arduous and too heavy. Sustained progress builds confidence and consistency. No have to crash and burn proper out of the gate. After a couple of weeks, we frequently see these lifters get higher at judging their RPE and the variety of reps achieved on their AMRAP units replicate that.

Teaching = Educating

Coaches want to recollect what it feels prefer to be a novice. Many people spent years figuring it out for ourselves. There’s worth on this course of, however it’s inefficient at finest. Lifters pay coaches to hurry up this course of and get a higher return on their time funding. RPE is a strong device that enables lifters to make higher coaching choices, and it’s the job of the coach to show the lifter how you can finest use that device. So begin educating. It’s your job.

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