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RPE and bias

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  • RPE and bias

    My typical routine before stepping into the gym for the day is the see my RPE targets and run the calculator for each set so that I have target weights to hit. I've begun to consider that it may in fact be better to start the workout with no weight targets and instead work solely based on target RPE. There is no getting around the fact that I'll remember, perhaps roughly, what I did last time or where my abilities lie.

    I say all of that because perhaps there is a bias or false expectation that is generated by hitting up the calculator too frequently. "Okay, the formula says a set of 5 at 300 should be an RPE 8 for me....yeah that felt like an RPE 8 for sure!" Is a thought pattern I have a lot after completing a set. When I've done a "blind set" in the past, it feels like my RPE rating is more authentic.

    Maybe there has been research on this? Do you think it matters?

    Thank you for your time.

  • #2
    I don't believe there has been research on this.

    I do think it matters if you "lie" to yourself regarding the relative effort of sets, as that can result in exceeding the prescribed stimulus (and hence generating excessive fatigue). I think it's a good idea to have "target numbers" in mind when coming into a session assuming everything goes "as planned", but I have a low threshold for altering course if the sets working up feel too easy (in which case, target weights get adjusted upwards) or too hard (in which case, they get adjusted downward).
    IG / YT

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Austin Baraki View Post
      I don't believe there has been research on this.

      I do think it matters if you "lie" to yourself regarding the relative effort of sets, as that can result in exceeding the prescribed stimulus (and hence generating excessive fatigue). I think it's a good idea to have "target numbers" in mind when coming into a session assuming everything goes "as planned", but I have a low threshold for altering course if the sets working up feel too easy (in which case, target weights get adjusted upwards) or too hard (in which case, they get adjusted downward).
      Scheduling in advance specific target numbers for heavy singles, as guided by RPE, has changed my meet prep for the better.

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      • #4
        What is the recommended approach for a goal weight when your previous week was lower than the week before? For example, let's say my [email protected] in Week 1 is 245. In Week 2 my goal is 250 for the single, but I only hit 240 at RPE 8. In week 3, should my goal be 245 (+5 from week 2) or 250 (+5 from week 1)? Let's assume there are no obvious reasons as to why the weight on the bar went down in Week 2.

        I know it's only a 5 pound difference, but if I only shoot for 245 then it feels like I just spent 3 weeks at the same weight, and that feels like an eternity for me.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by keithf View Post
          What is the recommended approach for a goal weight when your previous week was lower than the week before? For example, let's say my [email protected] in Week 1 is 245. In Week 2 my goal is 250 for the single, but I only hit 240 at RPE 8. In week 3, should my goal be 245 (+5 from week 2) or 250 (+5 from week 1)? Let's assume there are no obvious reasons as to why the weight on the bar went down in Week 2.

          I know it's only a 5 pound difference, but if I only shoot for 245 then it feels like I just spent 3 weeks at the same weight, and that feels like an eternity for me.
          There is no "correct" answer here. Your target weights should be a range that narrows down to a specific number as you warm up.

          And if 3 weeks feels like an eternity, you may not enjoy training as an advanced lifter.
          IG / YT

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          • keithf
            keithf commented
            Editing a comment
            Ha, well yeah I understand eventually that will be the norm. I just meant for me right now that feels like a long time, because most weeks I can still add weight to the bar.
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