What is RPE?

November 7, 2020

You may have heard the terms RPE and RIR. What do they mean and how do we apply them to our training

RPE is Rate of Perceived Effort – this is a scale we use to emotively describe how easy or hard an exercise was. For example during a set of back squats for 10 reps, we may perform them and feel that was a 9 out of 10. This would equate to an RPE of 9. This can be a great way to measure how hard you are working. 

So to get the most from your training you would be thinking wouldn’t it be ideal to work in the 8/9 RPE? Well, for example, a working set of 10 back squats we may want to be working at an RPe of 9, but if we were doing a longer weighted cardio session with minimal breaks, this may require us to work at a 6/7 RPE so we can maintain the intensity for a longer period.

So how do we scale RPE if it is an emotive and subjective thing? 

This is where RIR or Reps in Reserve comes into play. Reps in reserve is how many more reps with form we can perform before failure. So if I have a set of 10 back squats to do and I can only perform 11, this would mean I am working at an RPE of 9/10 and a RIR of 1, 10-1 =9. 

By using this method it takes some of the guess work out and gives us a more honest approach to how hard you are actually working. So on your next session give it a try, it’s a great way to keep yourself accountable and moving forward.   

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