Stronglifts: RPE - Rating of Perceived Exertion

RPE stands for Rating of Perceived Exertion. It's a scale used to measure how difficult a set was.

Gunnar Borg came up with the concept of RPE in the 1980s. My coach Mike Tuchscherer started used it for powerlifters in the mid 2000s. I use RPE's in my own training since 2011. The StrongLifts app can use RPE to help you estimate your 1 rep max.

Estimated 1 Rep Max

  • Go to home - program - select the program - select the template/assistance - change weights - max lifts.
  • Change the RPE value to get a more accurate estimated one rep max calculation.
  • RPE is a 1 to 10 scale. But we don't use ratings below 6 - they're too light to judge, and are more like warmups in terms of training effect.

See how we calculate e1RM:

How to rate your RPE

  • Right after your set, ask yourself: "how many more reps could I have done had I gone all out?"
  • Let's say that you think you DEFINITELY could have done 2 more reps, then select RPE 8.
  • "Reps in the tank" => how many more reps could you have done. 
  • Note that the question is NOT - how many more reps could you have done if you had slept more, eaten better, moved the bar better, put better music on, whatever. It's how many more reps could you have done given the current circumstances?
  • It's normal to over/underestimate the RPE in the beginning. This is a skill - you get better at it by doing it more.

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