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RPE: Exertion and/or technique?

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  • RPE: Exertion and/or technique?

    I am a typical American gym goer. I go for a few weeks and then get too busy to go to the gym missing it for some time. I have been deadlifting for a couple of years now and have some experience with RPE. I am currently running the Beginner Prescription after a hiatus. Currently, my deadlifts are not particularly heavy exertion wise, however, I could feel my back straightening at the top of the reps this morning. I assume that I am losing tention strength in my back as I get through the sets and eventually I am just not in extension. I'm not worried about "breaking" my back, but consistent technique is the aim. So my question is should I readjust my approach to RPE on the deadlift at the moment to think in terms of "how many more reps can I perform with an extended back?" Thoughts?

  • #2
    I have wondered about this myself. Different people have different notions of how strictly lumbar extension should be self-enforced.

    You said you've been deadlifting for years so maybe you should base the decision on how prone you are to lower back tweaks? (But then again, is it certain that noticeable lumbar flexion increases the likelihood of back tweaks?)


    • #3
      Personally I conceptualize RPE as proximity to failure and if I want to avoid some form breakdown I might use more conservative RPEs. My instinct is you should just run the beginner prescription as written (interpreting RPE as proximity to failure). Ideally you will eventually be able to perform high RPE reps with more efficient form. To help you get there, there is probably value in both efficient technique reps and high RPE reps.

      Also, some rounding is probably the norm. I think that cuing an "extended" back is often the right move but I dont think it necessarily is for everyone and I intentionally sumo deadlift with a rounded back.

      Also small technique deviations are normal and fine.


      • #4
        Thanks HansAndFranz and 4l3x . I'll keep the course and hold off on any adjustments. I wouldn't say I have a history of tweaking my back in the gym, and I know I have an extended back for most of my reps. It's only the last set that I notice spinal flexing. For now, I'll trust that I will become more proficient as I get stronger.