Using RPE for Continuous Gains without Burnout
Written by Blaine McConnell
RPE stands for “Rate of Perceived Exertion” and it is a way that you can see continuous gains while avoiding feeling burnt out. How it works is extremely simple. RPE is a system used in place of training at percentages for a specific movement. It is based on a scale from 1-10 where 10 is maximal effort and anything under 10 is the amount of reps you feel you still could have completed.
How to Use RPE in a Training Program
Build to a 5 rep Back Squat @8RPE
Three Sets of:
Back Squat x 5 reps @10-15% less than today’s heavy set
Rest 3 minutes between sets
An RPE of 8 dictates the intensity for the day during your back squat session and will also dictate the load for your working sets after. Five (5) reps at an 8 RPE means after you have finished your 5th rep, you should still feel as if you could complete an additional 2 reps if needed. If the RPE were at a 7, then you should still feel as if you left 3 reps in the tank and so on.
Why Does RPE Training Work?
Ok so now that you got the explanation of RPE why should you care about it?
Let’s face it, not all of us are professional athletes who have all day to train and focus on recovery so we can train hard again the next day. Most of us have jobs that require a lot of our time and energy and while some days are good, others are not so good. Life happens to all of us. Some days at work are harder than others, sometimes the kids can drain a bit more energy out of us or maybe you had an all-nighter studying for finals.
RPE is a system that takes into account your life and the stressors you experience to allow you to still train smart based on how you feel. Rather than walking into the gym feeling tired and trying to get yourself pumped up for multiple reps at 85%, RPE is going to dictate the intensity based on how you feel and allow for you to train without worrying about hitting specific percentages.
On the other hand, the days you are feeling great and maybe want to be at heavier loads RPE will allow for that flexibility as well. The flexibility of RPE allows you to go heavy when you are feeling good, and dial it back down you are feeling a little more tired giving each training session purpose in the overall program. This allows for the dreaded burnout to be avoided while you chase down new PB’s.
The Invictus Athletic Essentials is a 12-week program that utilizes the RPE system to allow you to train hard and make progress in your everyday life. Chase new PB’s, look better and feel better by avoiding burnout.