Using the RPE Scale

by Neil Anderson

It is not reasonable to imagine that your body can perform workouts at high intensity indefinitely.  There are times when it is beneficial to slow down a little.  Remember, you only increase health and fitness AFTER you have recovered from your workouts.  With many of the workouts we do it may take days to recover fully.  If we stack a couple of those intense workouts on top of one another it will take even more time.  It seems like the only way recover, then is to take a couple days off.  The thing is, a day or two off may not be completely necessary.  Sometimes just throttling back a little during your next workout is enough of a break for your body to catch up.  This provides the added benefits of both; a small break for your body AND and extra workout.  Cool.

When throttling back, we suggest using the RPE scale (pictured) as a gauge of your effort.  We find it superior to using heart rate as HR may not always apply (as in heavy lifting days).  We also find it comparable (but much less work) to calculating 70% of weight, rounds, reps and etc.  To do these calculations you would need a good starting point.  This means performing several mock sets of exercise to determine where your predicted max's are for the prescribed workloads, then doing calculations.  Not efficient.  Using the RPE scale is superior in terms of effort and, at least, equal in terms of benefit.