Rate of Perceived Exertion
If you’re looking to push the intensity of your workouts, get familiar with RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion. Aside from what your apple watch is telling you, what is your body telling you?
Day to day your stress will be different, which means your recovery will be different, which means your stamina and endurance will be different. Learning to gauge your efforts based on the response your body is giving you will help keep you moving in the right direction.
This being said, there may be a big difference between what your body is telling you and what your mind is telling you. If you are under a lot of stress and can’t clear your head for your exercise, the lines may get a little blurred between what you ‘feel like’ doing and what your body can handle.
This time of year brings about an undeniable urgency to get fit. We get it. Which is why we offer the spring special. BUT that doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind, balls to the wall, and annihilate yourself so you can get into your skinny jeans.
On the flip side, if you’ve been consistent with your workouts and don’t quite see the results you want, you may have to push a little harder. It’s time for a gut check – how hard are you actually working? Or are you going through the motions?
Here is what a RPE scale looks like. You may have seen these with smiley faces somewhere, but these descriptions are a bit more accurate. The truth is some people are no longer smiling at RPE 4… And some people are still smiling at RPE 9… So we’ll use breathing, sweating, and the ability to talk as our gauge.
RPE will always be relevant to your efforts. There are so many factors that go into how we feel during a workout; including stress, hydration, sleep, and recovery. Most devices will be hard pressed to capture them all and give you an accurate account of how you did, unless maybe you’re wearing a Whoop.
Either way, RPE for your effort is like using the palm of your hand to measure protein. You’ll ALWAYS have it with you.
The most common spot to hang out is 5 / 6 – Noticeably breathy and sweaty but still able to speak. This is that nice area where you can check off your workout for the day and will probably have to launder your sports bra, but you also could have kicked it up a notch (or two). There are many benefits to this RPE – most of which include supporting mental health, improving circulation, helping to keep your bones strong and healthy, and of course giving your heart some work to do. Movement is king and this RPE should be the baseline of all your focused workouts.
But if you want more, you’ll have to give more. The good news is that the harder you work, the shorter the duration of each ‘push’. Depending on your activity, you may touch upon RPE 9 or 10 for a few seconds, and that’s where the big difference comes in.
To keep it simple, the longer the activity, the lower the RPE. The shorter the activity, the higher the RPE. So if you’re going for a walk, which will place you somewhere around 3 / 4, you’ll probably walk for longer than your Boutique Fitness workout. Side note: Walking is the holy grail for all things wellness. If all you have is 30 minutes (or even 10 minutes) for a walk, get after it. You’ll probably be a better human because of it 😉
Your BF workout is 30 minutes. For the majority of that time you should be aiming for RPE 7 with bursts of 8 & 9 (and maybe 10). Because of the nature of functional workouts, you’ll have a mix of strength and conditioning. Since most of our intervals are 30-60 seconds, you’ll mostly stay in an anaerobic state. Without getting too into the details, you have two systems for replenishing energy for your muscles in the anaerobic state, and they work pretty fast – which means you can push the intensity of your intervals and recover plenty to move onto the next interval at an all out effort. This is the sweet spot for change… this makes us happy 🙂
And of course, you’ll want to get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, and give your body all the TLC it needs to thrive every day.