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Wendy Shafranski


January 18, 2024

Rate of Perceived Effort

For both strength and cardio training sessions, we assign an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) to follow so that you understand and comply with the intent of the movements or workout.

Everyone’s RPE is different and can change over time, so it’s worthwhile to get in tune with your body, track weights being used in workouts and monitor your pacing on machines, so you can more accurately judge our RPE in a training session.

Learning to effectively judge your RPE takes time and many people get this wrong for several reasons:

  • They don’t understand it
  • They are in the learning phase where they are becoming more aware of their capabilities
  • They choose to disregard it, wanting to go all-out (or not work hard enough)

Assigning an RPE means that you are training appropriately and not going too hard or not hard enough, both of which will hinder progress.

There are several RPE scales out there, but we find a 1-10 scale easy to understand. We’ve included it here and have also posted one at the gym to help you. As always, if you have questions about RPE on any particular workout, your coach can help!

You won’t see us ever program an RPE of 10. For one, 100% effort can’t be maintained for very long and at a 10, there is an increased risk of injury, especially in the 1-rep max of a particular lift.

When we assign an RPE, we want you to use it for that day. But, it’s just a guide and your RPE can change over time or even day by day. Here are some examples:

  • As you get stronger, the weight you used at, say an RPE of 7, will increase (You used to be able to do 3 reps of a back squat with an RPE of 8 at 100# and now you can manage 125#).
  • As you become more aerobically fit, powerful and better at the technique on machines, the pace you use for a particular RPE can become faster. (A 2:00 pace on the rower used to feel like a 10, now it feels like an 8).
  • Some days, you feel better than others. This can be due to sleep patterns, alcohol, soreness, food or supplement intake, etc. Again, the RPE is a guide. Your 7 RPE today may actually be your 5 on a good day. And that’s OK.

The most common instance in which we see RPE gauged incorrectly (or disregarded) is in aerobic intervals. We may assign a 7 for all sets with rest in between so you can maintain that 7. But, at pretty much every class, someone starts at a 9, then maybe the next interval goes well, then eventually they crash and burn. And they are tanked for the rest of the day. That wasn’t the intent of the workout.

Hopefully this post helps to better define RPE. Hit us back with any questions!  

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