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Dr. Bridgelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the RPE

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  • Dr. Bridgelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the RPE

    Ok, I've finished my first run of Bridge 1.0 and I'm pretty happy with RPE based training. I'm re-purposing this OP to state my current status and goals.

    I'll be re-running "The Bridge 1.0" starting on week 2 to avoid 2 low stress weeks in a row. Jump to this post if you care to see the beginning of this run.

    I bought the HLM and Hypertrophy templates the weekend I finished my first run as there was a spring discount, and if the curves in my below graph have pretty upward trends, I'll run through HLM next, otherwise if they aren't perty enough, I suppose I'll do the Hypertrophy template as a "palate cleanse."

    My history:
    I've been doing barbell focused work since the summer of 2015, and through sub-optimal programming I'd not really gotten the best results. I switched to BBM RPE based programming with a trial run of BBM's free Bridge 1.0 template at the end of January 2018, and I'm enjoying the system.

    I really like the results for squat for the first run. The execution of the DL portion sucked on my part due to not being conditioned to the extra volume, not being good at gaguing the RPE, and a DL competition in my gym week 4. Bench, I've seen improvement, but it's hard to gage since before this program I'd only done T&G. Press... Meh. I think I'll be adding a block of extra volume in the form of 3x8 for Press on Saturday.

    Mid March stats:
    Age: 38
    Weight: 178
    Waist: 33"?

    I'll try to keep a weekly updated graph of my BBM training e1RMs in this post.

    Click image for larger version

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    Resources:
    Bridge 1.0 tracker google sheets spreadsheet
    I've had requests for a tool to allow others to generate the above graph. I made it in excel, and tried to build a generic version in google sheets, but didn't quite suceed. I'll try again by building it in excel and exporting it to google sheets another day.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Serack; 03-30-2018, 06:19 PM.
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  • #2
    Bridge Week 1, Workout 1
    Monday, 1/29/2018

    CGB=Close Grip Bench CGB is something I've never really trained, and I was repping them out pretty fast, but was feeling a burn in the tri's during the movement that made me uncertain of how many more I'd be able to do if I kept going.

    Rack Pulls, 295 and then 310 felt kinda tough, and as I was repping out at 325, I was thinking "is this too tough for RPE8?" then when I set down the last rep I was like, "Wait, I just counted off an 8th rep, I'm so confused." I'm confident I could have pulled at least 1 more, and considering how inept I feel at judging that, who knows if I coulda done another 8... I'll note that my gym's rack's lowest pin setting was just an inch or 2 below my knees. I may switch to pulling from a stack of plates to reach mid shin, but I was in a hurry to get back to work today.

    P.S. Shaking my head trying to wrap my head around the RPE for those Rack Pulls is when I was inspired with the name for this log.

    Edit: Playing with tables
    Edit2: Ack, I just noticed that the CGBs were supposed to be sets of 4 reps and rack pulls 7. Oops.
    Last edited by Serack; 03-06-2018, 06:30 PM.
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    • #3
      Bridge Week 1, Workout 2
      Wednesday, 1/31/2018 I struggled with selecting my weights for the next set to hit the target RPE on Press and BB Rows.

      Press, I'm used to being able to do more, but apparently things haven't gotten back up to what I'm used to, and when 115 went up so easy, I just slapped 20# more on the bar expecting it to be a 6 or 7... mistake, because at 4 reps I was not sure I'd get 5, so rather than grind it, I re-racked.
      Rows, 165 did slow down a little between reps, but on the 8th rep, I knew I had at least 2 more in me, which is why I rated it at 7.5, but then 10# more was tougher than I expected. I suppose I should have just added 5#.

      I intend to do the first GPP day on Saturday, although I may spend my lunch walking.
      Last edited by Serack; 01-31-2018, 06:43 PM.
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      • #4
        The name of your log is genius, mate. Genius



        The Lie of Freedom - Just another Straw Pulled at Random

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DoubleJ View Post
          The name of your log is genius, mate. Genius


          Thanks, I was pretty proud of it. I mentioned the inspiration for it at the end of the first workout entry.
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          • #6
            Bridge Week 1, Workout 3
            Friday, 2/2/18
            . .
            DL: My most recent set of 5 on DL was for 340 and it was at the end of a workout that started with Squats. Frequently when I start with DL, I can do 10# more, so I thought I'd work up to 330 or 335. Well apparently the slightly lower weight sets brought down what I expected my peak to be, and there was another issue that psyched me out a bit, so after 4 I stopped rather than going all out for [email protected] DL's and Squats can be a little weird for me, as when I was doing AMRAPs during 5/3/1 last year, just a little lower weight resulted in insane numbers of reps, which really affected my judgment of the tempo squats too.
            3-0-3s: As I said above, after a few cycles of 5/3/1 AMRAPs I once topped out at 5 reps for 260, and then did 14 reps at 240 the next week. I don't know why, but I guess it's not having any real coaching on form, and having been a bit of an endurance (Lots of cycling and running) junky in the past. I stopped at a measly 205 because I was feeling really wobbly after the sets, and trying to maintain form was getting really tough by the 8th rep, but knowing me, I probably could have pushed through several more reps, although the tempo nature of the reps might have made that questionable. I won't be surprised if I get really good at these within a few weeks though. Hopefully the tempo/supplemental work (3-0-3, paused, and pins) works some magic on my maintaining form when the competition squats get heavy...
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            • #7
              Bridge Week 1 GPP workout
              Saturday 2/3/18

              As I said earlier, I decided to do the GPP on Saturday. This allowed me to go with the family.

              7 minutes AMRAP Pull ups (alternating between parallel grip, and normal grip)
              7,7,6,5,4,3,3,3: 38 total
              7 minutes isometric abbs
              1 min Plank
              1 min Side Plank left
              1 min Side Plank Right
              Alternate between Dragon Flag (not exactly a good one) to failure and Plank for 3 minutes.
              1 minute elbow plank.

              25 minutes steady state Cardio
              Stationary Recumbent Bike while playing game on phone (Distracting myself with something interactive is pretty much the only way to restrain myself from riding all out)
              Heart rate was between 135-137 every time I checked. This is about 75% of my "max" heart rate, but it's almost impossible for me to restrain myself below that during any type of cardio... When I was doing cardio regularly, most workouts I'd maintain a heart rate from 155 to 160 for this time frame with my all time peak at 176 that I can find looking through the logs.
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              • #8
                Bridge Week 2, Workout 1
                Monday 2/5/18
                . .
                I truly suck at estimating what my RPE is. Oh well, I'm putting my log name into practice
                CGB: 187.5 felt a little tough, but as it's an unfamiliar movement, and last weeks seemed so easy, I kept going up with my weight as planned out before hand. the 4th rep went up rather slowly at what I intended my working weight to be and I anticipated another rep to be a 10, so I stopped at 4. Edit: Grrrr, those were supposed to be x4's not 5s... It seems as though I'm having reading comprehension errors every workout with the new programing...
                Rack Pulls: As I mentioned after last week's rack pulls, this week I went to pulling from on top of some bumper plates that put the bar at mid shin, rather than the rack that puts it at just below the knees. I was a little surprised 275 was so tough, but I guess I was a little tired from the Squats, and backed off a little from my planned weight (I've done DL's for 305x9 in the past, so I was planning on using that as my working weight for this). By the time I did my 2nd working set, I was so gassed. One odd thing about these rack pulls, is that at mid-shin, I didn't feel like I was really getting everything tight before the pull like I do with DLs.

                Oh well, this was my first time adjusting weight on the fly based off of how the lower RPE lifts felt. Hopefully I get more comfortable with this as things go along.
                Last edited by Serack; 02-14-2018, 06:48 PM.
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                • #9
                  Week 2, Workout 2
                  Wednesday 2/7/2018
                  . .
                  Paused squats went smooth, although my first rep on the last set I forgot to pause. It's possible the RPE was slightly less than 9, but I'm not a good judge, especially with tempo added in.
                  Press first set at 130 felt smoooooth, but by set 3 the last rep was a minor grind, and set 4, was a definite grind. 9.5 RPE might be too generous for that one.
                  BB Rows I miss judged the weight at first thinking I had 145 when I had 155, so after an easy 135, I didn't get in a 6RPE set. I used the belt this time since trunk stability is such a limiting factor on these for me, and even on the 3rd set I was repping them out pretty quick so RPE8 might be a high estimate, but then, if I went for more weight, my "form" would have involved my trunk dipping and raising a lot... (more)

                  I still think it's dumb to let trunk stability limit my row weight so much by using the BB instead of DB no matter what Jesus says. I was unilaterally pulling 70% (115#) of today's bilateral BB Row weight for 20 reps the last time I did DB rows. Granted it was a legit RPE10, but TWENTY REPS!!! And the limiting factor for them is my grip, which means it's great grip strength training that carries over to my DL. And none of my gyms allow Chalk, so the grip work is kinda important for me.
                  Last edited by Serack; 02-07-2018, 06:27 PM.
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                  • #10
                    Week 2, Workout 3
                    Friday 2/9/2018
                    . .
                    DL at 310x5 felt heavy, so I just stopped there. After 3 sets, I was tired, but I'm pretty confident I could do 2 more reps on that last set. Deadlifts are something that I'm usually mentally prepared to go to the well on each working set so its weird trying to estimate an RPE8...
                    Paused Bench I thought I would be going to 195 again, and being an RPE idoit, I didn't really know what 175 felt like. 185, I forgot to cinch up my belt before the set, and rep 4 tapped against the hooks psyching me out, and that last rep felt very heavy, but I thought I'd try the same weight again to see if it would be an 8... it wasn't, so I backed off a full 10# and 175 felt rather easy, but I guess I should be more willing to accept lowballing a weight as RPE8 than calling a 9 an 8.
                    3-0-3 Tempo Squat was grueling, but I still feel as though I could have knocked out more reps at the end of each set. The form might have deteriorated on those hypothetical reps, but it felt rather decent for the reps I did complete. Not that I'm a good judge of that either...

                    The weights weren't impressive today, but hopefully that's because I'm doing a good job of backing off from maxed out effort to a more accurate RPE8, and I definitely feel the volume from today. Lower body more so than upper though.

                    Anecdote: For tempo squats, I kind of revert back to my Army days of "4 count exercises" and count in my head, "1-2-1-1-2-1, 1-2-2-1-2-2, 1-2-3-1-2-3, 1-2-4-1-2-4, 1-2-5-1-2-5, 1-2-6-1-2-6, 1-2-7-1-2-7, 1-2-8-1-2-8." Otherwise, I'd have difficulty keeping track of reps while trying to mentally count off the tempo during such a grind.
                    Last edited by Serack; 02-09-2018, 07:04 PM.
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                    • neandrewthal
                      neandrewthal commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I count:
                      down-2-3-up-2-3-1
                      down-2-3-up-2-3-2
                      down-2-3-up-2-3-3
                      etc...

                  • #11
                    Week 2 GPP
                    Sat 2/10/2018

                    7 minutes AMRAP Pull ups (all normal grip)
                    7,7,7,5,5,6,5: 42 total
                    7 minutes isometric abbs
                    1 min Plank
                    1 min Side Plank left
                    1 min Side Plank Right
                    4 min: 10s Dragon Flags (not exactly good ones) and Plank cycling EMOM with some 10 second of legs flagged off the end of the bench isostatically thrown in.
                    2 30s V-sit holds

                    25 minutes steady state Cardio @~127bpm. With max estimated at 180, this makes for 70.5%, pretty much on target. I backed off on the resistance setting compared to last week to achieve this.

                    Last week for pull ups and abbs I just set the timer for 7 min and went at it. It occurred to me that the time switching between dragon flag on the bench and plank shouldn't be counted towards "accumulate" and I payed attention and saw that after switching from plank to flag, and back to plank, 30 seconds had transpired, but I had only counted off 10 seconds while in flag, so I added in the 2 30 second V-sit holds. I chose that exercise because I anticipated (rightly) that it would do more for the lower abbs, which didn't seem to get much out of the flags.
                    Last edited by Serack; 02-14-2018, 06:53 PM.
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                    • #12
                      Week 3, Day 1
                      Monday, 2/12/2018

                      . .
                      Squats: Just reporting that 265 felt great. Second set felt slightly easier than the first, but a valuation of RPE8 seems right.
                      CGB: During "warm-up" I was increasing the weight between sets by 7.5 and was shocked when I got all the way up to 197.5 and it still felt like an easy 8 with no real change in bar speed. Then I realized my dumb ass was using a normal grip. Well since my time is limited, I just took the 1.25s off and called that my first working set, with the RPE's shown. I was reading stuff on my phone between sets, and I guess the distraction caused me to revert to what I usually do when I'm on the bench, because even the 2 sets I did at close grip, when I first grabbed the bar, I grabbed it at my normal width (half a finger width narrower than the max allowable in competition if I understand correctly) and had to mentally smack myself. At least I didn't flub the rep ranges this time I guess.
                      Rack Pulls: With last week's experience, I was surprised when 275 and 290 went so damn easy, but I RIPPED through those reps, and at 305, I still felt like I had reps (plural) in the tank, but I held back and did the last jump at 10# instead of 15, and I was glad I did. Higher rep deadlift RPE is harder to estimate since I enjoy the grind of them so much, and those last 2 sets were quite a grind, so it's possible they were 9.5, but I'm pretty sure if I had to, I could have done another. I hope DL goes like this Friday.
                      Last edited by Serack; 02-16-2018, 02:12 PM.
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                      • #13
                        Week 3, Workout 2
                        Wednesday 2/14/2018
                        . .
                        Paused squats These went smooth yet again, and the 2nd set at my working weight felt even easier than my first, so I marked it as half an RPE lower. Next week is 3 sets, so we will see how things go with a projected 5lb increase.
                        Press Warmup sets went smooth, so I did a 5lb increment over last week instead of 2.5, and the first 2 sets went GREAT however this is the second week with RPE creep during the last 2 sets with this week's last rep being a certain 10. Next week if set 3 has creep, I'm dropping 5 pounds.
                        BB Rows Insert weekly complaint about these. 160, I actually knocked out the entire set of 8 in one breath making me think the expected RPE7 rating was maybe too high, but 10lbs more was awkward keeping my trunk from dipping during the reps.
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                        • #14
                          Week 3, Workout 3
                          Friday 2/16/2018
                          . .
                          DL Apparently I wrongly convinced myself that my warm up RPE was lower than it actually was. Perhaps I should be resting more during my warm up, but my workout was nearly 2 hours at it was. I usually do 3min after @7, and 4min after anything else. Monday's pulls went so well, I thought I was on the same roll...
                          Paused Bench I forgot my micro plates, and things have been weird lately anyways, but I think my RPEs were dialed in just right anyways.
                          3-0-3 Tempo Squat I did the math and saw that last week's [email protected] came to an e1RM that was equivalent to just barely under [email protected], and I warmed up for that weight (which went well) and even had it on the bar, and then realized that if I were to have the e1RM "Progress" I should put 230 on the bar, so I added the 2.5s and repped it out. At the end of the second set, with the bar on my back I felt like a little god, and could have done more, but when I racked the weight, I felt like a floppy over inflated hot water bottle. So I left my RPE estimate at the anticipated 9.

                          I still feel like a moron estimating these RPE's especially during the warm up.
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                          • neandrewthal
                            neandrewthal commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Originally posted by Serack View Post
                            I still feel like a moron estimating these RPE's especially during the warm up.
                            I've done 10 weeks of The Bridge and 6 weeks of GPP/Hypertrophy so far and I still can't even begin to guess the RPE of any warmup set until I rest 3 minutes then load up what I THINK should be RPE6 for the day. Then even with the @6 and @7 sets I'm not sure at all of my rating until I've seen how well they helped me choose the weight for @8.

                        • #15
                          Week 3 GPP
                          Sat 2/17/2018

                          7 minutes AMRAP Pull ups (all normal grip)
                          8,7,7,6,4,3,2,2,1,1: 39 total
                          7 minutes isometric abbs
                          1 min Plank
                          1 min Side Plank left
                          1 min Side Plank Right
                          4 min: 10s Dragon Flags (not exactly good ones) and Plank cycling EMOM.
                          2 30s V-sit holds
                          5 minutes Arm Work:
                          35lb Alternating Hammer Curls
                          70LB 2 hand Overhead Tri. extensions
                          5 Super sets of 10 reps with no rest in between. 5th set, I gave it pretty much everything I had and stopped the 7 min timer at exactly 5 heh.

                          25 minutes steady state Cardio @~127bpm. With max estimated at 180, this makes for 70.5%, pretty much on target.
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