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What is a true RPE 10?

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  • What is a true RPE 10?

    Hey BBM,

    My question aimed at judging RPE on assistance exercises and volume work for the main lifts. Should a lifter treat form breakdown as a missed lift and adjust load accordingly when form degrades towards the end of a set? Or is some breakdown expected towards the end of challenging sets? I guess my question comes down to this...should my hypothetical reps in the tank be perform able with the same form as my inter-set reps, or should they be ugly reps that you could do if you absolutely had to?

    For example I've often found that I could grind out a few more reps on a tempo squat set if i allow some form breakdown (even though doing so results in a sticking point or minor form breakdown which is otherwise absent). I know training consistent movement patterns is important for progress, but also that those later reps involve more motor unit recruitment which is also important. Important to what? My goal is long term strength and health, but i'm driven by strength increases and really want to add pounds to my total. I get that the answer to my question is likely related to tolerances of a individual lifter and performance/injury outcomes given which approach is taken, but i'd really love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks for all the great info, content, and programs. My first time through the 12 week strength 1.0 got me to a 1300lb gym test day total and I am really excited for the future.

  • #2
    Mr. BS,

    I don't think that form breakdown should be a requirement to rate a set as having a high RPE, but it may happen nonetheless. Overall, we're using RPE to determine how hard the set was. I think that technique can play a role in how difficult the set is, but usually in a way where the set becomes harder when technique gets worse. Those things kind of trend together, right?

    -Jordan
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
    ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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    • #3
      It's common after a set of @9 paused reps (2 count or more) that I feel like I could probably do another regular rep, but I'm not at all confident I could do another rep after the pause. Then reviewing with the tape, or conferring with my workout buddy, I find out the count was actually getting shorter through the set.

      I'm pretty sure I'm bad at estimating my RPE in most circumstances, as evidenced by more days with RPE creep on @8 across than not, but the hypothetical pause between my last rep of a set and hypothetical concentric portion of reps to estimate RPE certainly makes the estimate harder for me, which is compounded by finding out that my pauses were getting shorter, which is its own form of form breakdown.

      So if I rack after a 3count pause bench programmed at 9, and figure I could do another rep, but definitely not after another 3 count pause, did I hit the evil RPE10? Dropping from 200 to 195, the next set was a little easier, but of course I'd still be uncertain what to call the RPE...

      I did manage to get a question in there, but mostly, I'm afraid I'm NDTP because of my crappy RPE abilities. I burned out half way through my 2nd run of The Bridge last year (after buying 2 templates to run after I intended to complete it) and I'm only this summer getting back onto the RPE wagon.
      Forum topics and other links I've found useful

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Serack View Post
        It's common after a set of @9 paused reps (2 count or more) that I feel like I could probably do another regular rep, but I'm not at all confident I could do another rep after the pause. Then reviewing with the tape, or conferring with my workout buddy, I find out the count was actually getting shorter through the set.
        Yea, this is common. I think it can be useful to have someone else count the pause during a set if possible or using a metronome app.

        Originally posted by Serack View Post
        I'm pretty sure I'm bad at estimating my RPE in most circumstances, as evidenced by more days with RPE creep on @8 across than not, but the hypothetical pause between my last rep of a set and hypothetical concentric portion of reps to estimate RPE certainly makes the estimate harder for me, which is compounded by finding out that my pauses were getting shorter, which is its own form of form breakdown.
        I'm not sure that this indicates that you're bad at estimating your RPE. Additionally, I'm not sure the accuracy matters that much as long as you're consistent. How it feels subjectively is more important than the objective inputs for a number of outcomes.

        Originally posted by Serack View Post
        So if I rack after a 3count pause bench programmed at 9, and figure I could do another rep, but definitely not after another 3 count pause, did I hit the evil RPE10? Dropping from 200 to 195, the next set was a little easier, but of course I'd still be uncertain what to call the RPE...
        That would be RPE 10 by definition, yes. I'm not sure where the uncertainty comes from though. If we change the movements, we'll use different weights for different rep and RPE schemes.
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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