How To Stop Overshooting RPE
Written by Ashley Pollard

If you use RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) during training, chances are you have or will overshoot at some point.

While it's easy to get ahead of yourself at times, the problem with overshooting is that it wrecks your training momentum, creates unnecessary fatigue, strengthens inconsistencies, ruins confidence, makes it difficult for your coach to collect accurate data, & increases the chance of injury.

So how can you minimize the likelihood of overshooting in order to keep progressions building?


By recording your warmup sets and playing them back to yourself, you are able to make a more informed decision on your next weight selection based on how the lift moved/felt. After you finish a set, it may also be a good idea to rate that lift as soon as you rack the bar. Then watch the set back, and rate it again to see if they match up, adjusting accordingly.


Unless you are very experienced and confident with RPE ratings, taking smaller jumps when selecting weights allows for better calibration of where your performance is on a given day, and can help to make smarter calls for your top sets and in the future.


Don't become attached to a certain weight, expect to always increase from the previous week, or even match what you did prior. Take things for what they are based off how they are moving/feeling in that very moment and nothing else.


If your recovery, nutrition, sleep, or stress have been off, you most likely will not be able to perform the same way you normally would when all variables are dialed in. When these days occur, it's important to manage your expectations, take it for what it is, and adjust accordingly.


Don't try to match what someone else is doing in an attempt to keep up with them or beat them. Your body, leverages, strengths, weaknesses, & other life variables are all different. Forget about them, focus on you. The only person you will ever be in competition with is yourself.


If you finish a set and say "I THINK I had two more, so that was an 8"... That most likely means it was an 8.5 If you were absolutely CERTAIN you had 2 more, then that would be an 8. Being honest with yourself about how things moved/felt in that particular moment vs. what you wanted is one of the easiest ways to avoid overshooting.


RPE can be a very useful tool for lifters not only to help select appropriate loads in training, but to keep momentum building, avoid injury, account for everyday life circumstances, & create better self-awareness.

Unfortunately, the majority of these benefits only apply if RPE is used correctly; that means keeping overshooting to a minimum.

Being able to put your ego aside and look at the data for what it is on that specific day will ensure you reap the full benefits when using RPE based training.

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