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How repeatable are the load vs. reps vs. RPE tables across different people?

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  • How repeatable are the load vs. reps vs. RPE tables across different people?

    My question: How repeatable are the load vs. reps vs. RPE tables across different people? Why do I ask? I find that my 1RM for a single rep is significantly higher than my 1RM for something like a six-rep movement.

    Numbers: Let's say I do 265 lbs for 6 deadlift reps @ RPE of 8, giving me an e1RM of 337. But, I can lift 355 lbs for a single rep @ 8 RPE, for an e1RM of 385. This got me thinking that I was grossly overestimating my RPE on the multi-rep lifts, so I tried 6 reps as per the weight suggested by the calculator ([email protected] is equivalent to [email protected]). There's no way I can do 6 reps at 300 lbs.

    I'm currently in week 5 of the Hypertrophy GPP template, after two consecutive passes through the Bridge. Before that was Stronglifts and Starting Strength for almost 2 years of grinding, resets, and increased waist circumference. I'm male, 43 years old, 5'11", waist circumference is floating around 36" to 38", 185 lbs, poor upper body strength but climbing. I was a sedentary, weak, and fat 230-lb man 3 years ago wearing 42" pants, so I'm generally going the right way.

    What to do next?
    - Maybe I'm underestimating my 1-rep RPE? If that 355 deadlift was actually a 9, that would suggest 275 lbs for 6 reps should give an 8 RPE, which is pretty close.
    - Have I been underestimating my work capacity on multi-rep movements? i.e. suck it up, try harder, stop nocebo-ing myself?
    - Just keep working to RPE and don't worry about the math?
    - Poor conditioning? I've admittedly been getting only one of the GPP sessions per week due to family commitments. But when I can, I think I sustain a reasonable work effort. Recent example: HIIT on a Concept2 rower at a damper setting of 6, I'm able to hit a 1:30 to 1:40 pace for 20 seconds every 2 minutes for 24 minutes, dropping to ~2:30 pace for the 100 second rest. Maybe that's not that good after all? Sorry, I have no reference...

    I'm going to do 12-week strength next, and I'm concerned about the percentage drops in that program given the above. Thanks for any advice!

  • #2
    These tables are just an indication. They are in no way to be taken as very accurate.
    There are many factors at play, so if one is off from the "average" you will end up with numbers not matching the charts. (recovery, previous training program, life stress, health, age, ....)
    I would just keep hitting the prescribed RPE and learn to judge it better if you think you might be off on the higher rep sets.

    If you notice the workload is too high/low for the back-off sets after the single @8, you can still adjust the weight a bit. No-one will come after you if you adjust the template a bit to your personal needs.

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    • #3
      I have the opposite problem, my [email protected] e1rm is way higher than my [email protected] e1rm. I can do 5 reps with 93% of my deadlift 1rm

      I don't look into it too much, everyone is different and more efficient at different intensities. The table is just a general guidelines and not meant to be taken too literally. Just keep trying to hit the most accurate RPE you can.

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      • #4
        Cool, thanks for the peace of mind guys! I'll continue learning and adjust as needed. I'm also working to stay on top of the GPP portions.

        Originally posted by rho View Post
        No-one will come after you if you adjust the template a bit to your personal needs.
        LOL! Hopefully not.

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        • #5
          These things vary by person. If the rep ranges are novel to you (meaning your first time in awhile doing that exercise in that rep range) than that can throw things off temporarily. Usually, these temporary discrepancies work themselves out shortly. Also, you have to look at the context of the program and how much fatigue you are carrying. I say this because you mention running 12 week strength next, and in 12WS there will be days that you do multiple slots of the same movement in the same day or in back to back days. In these cases you will be more fatigued than normal in the later slots (which happen to be higher rep work). You will definitely see a decrease in e1rm because of this. But since we train with RPE we don't care a whole lot about absolute loads, we care about hitting target RPE's. If you have to pull some weight off to hit your target RPE it is perfectly fine.

          Now it is also possible that it could just be how your body is. Mike T has said that if there are noticeable long term patterns that you can customize the RPE chart. The catch is that different lifts will respond slightly differently so if you're going to customize you would probably want to do it on a lift by lift basis. I'm more inclined to think that it's likely temporary though until proven otherwise.

          If I were in your position, I would just focus on hitting my RPE's no matter what load satisfied that end, and just see how the next block goes by doing that. I have a feeling that when you peak at the end of 12ws you will be happy.
          Last edited by PWard; 10-16-2018, 07:49 PM.

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          • #6
            I agree. I'm new to RPE and just starting the Bridge 1.0 and it is difficult to figure out the right weight to use. The RPE Estimate Calculator was a nice thing to include but using it to figure the right weight to use on the 5 reps @8 for normal squats on day one worked but was way too heavy for the 8 reps @8 on the 3-0-3 tempo on day 5. Kind of frustrating as I was sailing along making gains on LP but now it feels like i'm having to start over feeling my way through the right weights to use on the variations of the same exercises used on the Bridge. Would be sweet if someone were to figure that the 3-0-3 tempos were supposed to be 80% of the weight you used on the normal squats and add that info to the templates.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MikeT View Post
              I agree. I'm new to RPE and just starting the Bridge 1.0 and it is difficult to figure out the right weight to use. The RPE Estimate Calculator was a nice thing to include but using it to figure the right weight to use on the 5 reps @8 for normal squats on day one worked but was way too heavy for the 8 reps @8 on the 3-0-3 tempo on day 5. Kind of frustrating as I was sailing along making gains on LP but now it feels like i'm having to start over feeling my way through the right weights to use on the variations of the same exercises used on the Bridge. Would be sweet if someone were to figure that the 3-0-3 tempos were supposed to be 80% of the weight you used on the normal squats and add that info to the templates.
              You can't use the chart to figure out the supplemental movements because they have their own e1rm. And [email protected] tempo squat would be ~74% of your tempo squat 1rm, not your Comp Squat. Also, everyone's %s for the supplemental movements is going to be very different. Some people will 3-0-3 a lot less than others, some people closegrip bench will be a lot more than others, some people pause squat 95% of their comp and some only 70%, etc. This makes it pretty much impossible to establish a general percent guideline for supplemental lifts.

              Remember that the exact weight on the bar isn't important, especially for variations. Do your best to hit the prescribed RPE, it's a skill that will come with time, and you'll be getting the correct amount of stress. And don't get too frustrated if progress isn't linear anymore, it's not supposed to be beyond the novice phase!

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