How to use RPE (Rate of perceived exertion) to maximize the benefits of your workouts.

Ever wonder how intense a workout needs to be in order for it to be effective? Using this chart for RPE you can better understand how you should feel during a workout.

When a coach states that the recommended level of intensity is a 5 or an 8 they are referring to Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE. RPE is a personal measurement of how you feel while performing activity. 

The challenge of using RPE is to remove our potential feelings about a movement or a workout and instead focus solely on the impact the workout is having on our metabolic system. Below is an image that outlines the RPE scale so that you can better understand the numbers the coaches are stating for the workouts.

As stated, it’s important to pay attention to the actual effect the workout is having on your metabolic system and avoid being wrapped up in the movement itself. If you don’t enjoy a movement it is easy for it to make you feel like you are at a higher RPE than you actually are. The Assault Bike might be the bane of your existence by when you check in physically it may not be impacting you quite as hard as you feel that it is. 

As a general rule:

  • Short workouts, 6 to 8 mins, are intended to be an 8 or above;
  • Moderate workouts, 10 to 20 mins, are intended to be a 5 to 8;
  • Long workouts, 20+ mins are intended to be a 4 to 6

When performing workouts throughout the week, a good mix of intensities will help in both growth, performance, and recovery. A good mix of intensity for a week might be as follows:

  • The majority of our workouts are at a moderate intensity level, between 5-8 RPE.
  • 1 workout per week hit a RPE of 8 or higher.
  • 1-2 workouts per week hit a RPE of 4-6 or maybe even a 3 if we want to really focus recovery.

With this information you should be able to better approach your workouts and perform them at the appropriate level which will allow you to fulfill the stimulus of the workout which is the most important component for improving your health and wellness.

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