RPE and You – How to Track Your Fitness Progression
The human body is a complex and remarkable machine, capable of incredible feats of endurance and strength. However, what may be hard for one person may be easy for another, and what may have been terribly hard one day might be simple the next! So how best do you keep track of how hard you workout?
What is RPE?
How is RPE used?
How can you use it?
What is RPE?
What are the benefits to you?
Rating of Perceived Exertion (or RPE for short) has been used as a monitoring tool in professional sport for years. It is the simplest method of determining how hard an athlete is working under a given workload. There are several different RPE scales, however the 1-10 scale is used most commonly. An athlete is asked during, or after the completion of, a training session how hard the session felt to them, or how hard they feel at that present moment. This allows conditioning staff to understand how hard an athlete is working simply by asking the athlete. Multiple studies have analysed the efficacy of RPE for determining workloads, and a high correlation with heart rate has been found. That is to say, when an athlete says a training session is a 10/10, their heart rate is usually maxing out as well!
How is RPE used?
RPE is collected primarily in the interests of athlete welfare. Conditioning staff often predict how hard a session should theoretically be, and use individual player RPE in reference to the predicted level of difficulty. By collecting these scores regularly a profile can be built for an individual athlete. If sudden increases above their standard RPE scores are observed, it is apparent that something may be wrong with the athlete. It may be as simple as having poor sleep during the week, or it may just be due to weekly fatigue. However, it could also relate to severe illness or an incoming injury. Collecting RPE information helps to monitor and manage athlete wellbeing.
RPE also allows conditioning staff to quickly and effectively determine the degree of difficulty a training session sets an athlete, and compare this to the predicted difficulty of the session. This allows for better exercise prescription for specific athletic outcomes. An RPE score can also be multiplied by the training session duration, to create a ‘training load’ score. This allows a more in depth look at weekly training loads, and can be used to monitor, manage and adjust performance improvements and injury risk on a week-to-week basis.
RPE is a simple and effective tool for monitoring athletic populations – but the effectiveness doesn’t stop there! It is an easy tool to help take your training to the next level.
How YOU can use RPE!
RPE isn’t just reserved for professional athletes. It is a great tool to help monitor and improve your training and fitness. The easiest way to use RPE is to take a ‘session RPE’ score 15 minutes after the completion of your workout. Think back on your workout, and consider how hard it was. Leaving a 15 minute gap allows for a more accurate RPE score, as you should be well recovered and less subjective after 15 minutes of rest. Write this down next to what you completed in your workout, and how long the session was, and then compare your RPE score with the next time you do the same session! This can give you an idea of how much your ability has improved, or if you were feeling sick/tired and what effect this had on your training.
A further way we here at ATLETA like to use RPE is for continued athlete monitoring during and post-session. When we are planning a session for our clients, we consider how hard the session will be for that specific client and can therefore predict what level of exertion it will require. Further, each activity during the training session will have a differing level of difficulty, and clients may need more or less rest as required. Asking you for and RPE score during, or just after, a training session helps us to understand how hard you are working, how hard you find a certain activity and how this compares to previous times with the same activity.
The benefit of understanding how hard you worked across a number of given sessions gives you the opportunity to monitor your perceived training load. This can prevent you from over-training or under applying yourself, equally detrimental to achieving your best; you know when you should progress your program and when to back it off.
Using RPE during your training sessions can help to track fitness progression and similarly monitor training. Give it a try, and see how you can use RPE to change your training for the better!
Get in contact today to get started on your health and fitness journey!
Written by Johann Ruys
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