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Overthinking RPE

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  • Overthinking RPE

    Hi Doc, hope all is well.

    When a lifter has to squat a single @ 8 and it turns out to be a 9 (the e1RM has gone down). What would the lifter lift the next week for that single at 8? Would the lifter calculate an @ 8 based off the preceded 9, or does the lifter reattempts the same weight from the previous week to see if it turns out to be an @ 8 instead of @9.

    I've come across this situation not knowing what to do and end up in a loop and not progress.


    Thank you so much!

  • #2
    Can you describe how you determine your working weight on a given day?
    IG / YT

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    • #3
      //Sure, here's the past 4 weeks of my Belt Squat for a concrete example
      //Numbers are based off of previous week, if the actual RPE is higher than what expected, I reattempt the same number hoping for a lower RPE, then +5 the following week

      //Deload
      6/22
      Squat - starting e1RM ~ 226lbs
      5 @ 6 - 170 lbs
      5 @ 7 - 180
      5 @ 8 - 185 - Turned out to be an @ 7
      ending e1RM ~ 234

      6/29
      Squat starting e1RM ~ 234lbs
      5 @ 6 175
      1 @ 6 200
      1 @ 8 215 - Turned out to be an @ 9 e1RM ~ 223 lbs
      5x5 set across

      7/6
      // Reattempt the previous 1 @ 8 to see if the RPE rating would go down
      Squat starting e1RM ~ 223lbs
      5 @ 6 175
      1 @ 6 200
      1 @ 8 215 - Turned out to be an @ 8 e1RM ~ 234 lbs
      5x5 set across

      7/13
      // Because of perfect @8 rating for previous single, +5 lbs
      Squat starting e1RM ~ 234lbs
      5 @ 6 180
      1 @ 6 205
      1 @ 8 220 - Turned out to be an @ 9 e1RM ~ 229 lbs
      5x5 set across

      //The plan for 7/20, is to reattempt the 1 @ 8 from 7/13 to see if the rating would be an @8 instead of @9.
      //In the past, in a situation like this, I just went ahead and added +5lbs the following week even if the 1 @ 8 was an @9, but it turned into a cycle to over shooting RPE and defeating the purpose of it.


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      • #4
        This is not really how autoregulation works. It seems like you selected your initial starting weights using the calculator, and are still adhering a bit too rigidly to absolute numbers from the prior week. You seem to be using RPE more retrospectively than prospectively - meaning you are doing the top set and seeing if it was appropriate after the fact, rather than using the performance / effort on every set on your way up during warmups to guide load selection on a given day. The calculator can give you a BALLPARK estimate of where you may end up, but the idea is to assess how you are performing on each warm up set en route to your target load. In other words, each additional warm up set gives you an additional data point to "calibrate" your selected top set weight.

        So, for example, if your ballpark 1 @ 8 strength is around 215 lbs from last week, you might say "I'm going to go into this training session assuming I'm stronger until proven otherwise, planning on 220 x 1 @ 8".

        You warm up, perhaps taking the bar, 95, 135, 165, 195 - which ends up being an RPE 6 effort, 210 - which ends up being an RPE 7 effort. This gives you the "go-ahead" to take 220 x 1 since you expect it'll be around 8 based on the information you've gathered so far.

        If your warmups are moving more poorly than usual - say, 165 moves a bit slower than usual, maybe 195 moves @ 7 (assuming no obvious technical issues), then that tells you that your performance is not at the necessary level to hit 220 x 1 @ 8 that day, and you'll instead bump down your target to, say, 210 for that day. You do not take the same weight anyway just to see whether it's somehow easier.

        On the other hand, if things are feeling light and fast - say, 165 feels like 135 usually does, 195 feels like 165 has moved recently (i.e., < RPE 6), then you start to have some evidence that you're performing better than expected today, and you may need to bump up your target. So maybe you take 215 to confirm this (and it moves @7), then you have the go-ahead to bump the target up - say, to 225-230, which you'd expect to move @ 8.

        Hopefully this makes sense.
        IG / YT

        Comment


        • #5
          I see what you're saying, more warm up sets allows you to accurately determine the top single, not just adding +5 hoping the RPE rating would match the prescription.

          How do you judge an @ 6? Based off the meter found in The Bridge 1.0 eBook, it's not as specific as the rating for >7.5.

          "rather than using the performance / effort on every set on your way up...."

          I follow BBM's protocol on warming up, but even though I hit the warm up sets, I don't feel warmed up mentally.

          What I mean is that on most sessions, towards 50-75% in, I get "in the zone" and would like to be in this state of being while warming up for the squat or pull. While being 'in the zone' the feeling of discomfort doesn't exist and want to lift heavier. It's almost like I am in this "animistic" state and get a craving of lifting heavy. I am not "in the zone" when first starting the session. I started doing some jump ropes before the lift to get my heart rate up but do you have any suggestions on how to get "in the zone" early in the sessions? I leave the gym on most days thinking "I really want to redo that 1 @ 8 right now", and "I could have done more". When I finish the last warm up 1 @ 6, I am questioning if the 'ballpark' is an appropriate load and get discouraged having to drop weight and I end up lifting the ballpark only to overshoot, this would go away if can get 'in the zone' by this time

          Would you say "drop expectations about the top single and just measure the RPE set by set" ?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Paul7654321 View Post
            How do you judge an @ 6?
            This requires deliberate practice and attention. Things get fuzzy the further away from @10 you get, but that's OK.

            The "reps in reserve" definition would hold that an @6 effort indicates about 4-5 reps left in the tank. In reality its should be a set that should feel relatively fast and easy, without any significant bar speed slowdown. An @7 requires a bit more effort and may show a tiny bit of bar speed decline, an @8 shows definite bar speed decline, and @9 is just fast enough to not be an absolute grind.

            I follow BBM's protocol on warming up, but even though I hit the warm up sets, I don't feel warmed up mentally.
            This also requires deliberate practice and attention.

            When I'm warming up, I am actually trying to move every weight with the maximum bar speed that I can, starting from 135 lbs. With deliberate attention to this, I can develop a good "feel "for the weights that allows for comparison across/between sessions. I am literally paying attention to how heavy or light 135 and 225 feel in my hands, even if I plan to deadlift 600+ on a given day.

            For example, I just did this yesterday. I went into the session hoping/planning to pull 600 x 5 (after having pulled 585 x 5 last week): when I picked up the empty bar it felt like nothing, and 135 felt like the empty bar. These initial data points increased my confidence that my planned top set of 600 x 5 was going to be good, and each subsequent warmup set (225, 315, 405, 500, 550) further confirmed this suspicion as they all moved fast enough / as expected (#Bayes).

            Last Friday, however, I was so fatigued that a paused deadlift set at 405 x 5 felt like 500 x 5 would on a "good" day. I therefore had to adjust my top set down in real-time.

            Originally posted by Paul7654321 View Post
            What I mean is that on most sessions, towards 50-75% in, I get "in the zone" and would like to be in this state of being while warming up for the squat or pull. While being 'in the zone' the feeling of discomfort doesn't exist and want to lift heavier. It's almost like I am in this "animistic" state and get a craving of lifting heavy. I am not "in the zone" when first starting the session. I started doing some jump ropes before the lift to get my heart rate up but do you have any suggestions on how to get "in the zone" early in the sessions? I leave the gym on most days thinking "I really want to redo that 1 @ 8 right now", and "I could have done more". When I finish the last warm up 1 @ 6, I am questioning if the 'ballpark' is an appropriate load and get discouraged having to drop weight and I end up lifting the ballpark only to overshoot, this would go away if can get 'in the zone' by this time
            I understand what you mean. I think the above advice would be a good first step - try to move all of your warmups with maximum volitional bar speed.

            Originally posted by Paul7654321 View Post
            Would you say "drop expectations about the top single and just measure the RPE set by set" ?
            It is fine to have expectations about your top set. I had been thinking about my planned 600 x 5 all day leading up to that session yesterday. But I was perfectly open to the possibility that I'd either be weaker and need to reduce my target (given how fatigued I had been just a few days prior), or that I'd be obviously stronger than expected (in which case I might have bumped it up to 615-620).
            Last edited by Austin Baraki; 07-14-2020, 08:02 PM.
            IG / YT

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