Part Two: Progressive Overload

Welcome to blog number two of our little progressive overload series. In post number one, if you guys watched or read the blog post, I went over how you can progressively get stronger at MFW and the things you can do and what progressive overload is. If you haven't watched or read that one yet, go watch/read that one, when you get a chance.

Today we're going to dive in a little bit deeper to progressive overload and talk about how hard you should be pushing yourself. We talked about how you can gradually get stronger, but how hard should you be push yourself to gradually get stronger. Some people may have different views on how hard they should be pushing themselves to get stronger. In the fitness world, there is a way of measuring that and that's called RPE, which stands for 'Rate of Perceived Exertion'. To make it a bit simpler, it's just a way of measuring your physical activity intensity levels and your perceived exertion is how hard you feel your body is working. So you do have to be quite honest with yourself with this one as well. This observation is based on your elevated heart rate, increased breathing, and muscle fatigue.

To make it a little bit simpler as well, there is a scale that relates to RPE. This scale makes it easier to judge how hard you're pushing yourself. We're not just asking you how hard you are pushing yourself and you say ‘hard’, there is a way that we measure that on the scale. With this scale, the higher the number, the harder you're pushing yourself. It ranges from one to ten; one maybe like you are sitting on the couch, literally pretty much doing nothing or tying your shoes. Ten is like you are pushing a bloody car up a hill. Ten is full on rate of perceived exhaustion.

You would only ever reach a ten really if you're doing something short, like sprint. You go as hard as you possibly can for just say 30 seconds and then stop. A ten is not something that you reach on a day-to-day basis. We also need to understand the range of the scale too. Generally, in a workout that we have you guys doing, we want you guys to be working around a four to five, which is moderate intensity. We can then move up to the six to eight range where you're pushing yourself pretty intensely but this might be for short spurts within the class, like when we dish out a finisher!

Now that we've gone over RPE, how does that relate to progressive overload? Obviously in progressive overload, we're trying to get stronger and stronger. RPE is going to be able to allow you to determine what sort of weight to use for exercises. And especially since we've brought in workout intent as well. I know sometimes if I'm doing the workout intent, I may write go heavy on your exercises. When we're saying go heavier, that's aiming for an RPE of about eight, which if you look at the picture on the scale, this is where you are pushing yourself at a pretty intense rate. You are really struggling to get those last few reps out.

If you're aiming for an RPE of eight, this should be intense and tough for that weight. If you are aiming for an RPE of about six out of ten, which is ideally what we want for most classes. Six out of ten, you're going be a bit more breathless and it's going be harder for you to be working out. It may be weight where, you know, you have a few more reps in the tank, but it's still really pushing you as well, especially in ‘Lift’ class, where the primary goal is to lift heavy, and you are using progressive overload in that class. You want to be aiming for a high rate of perceived exhaustion. You want to be aiming up to those eights and nines, where those last few reps are real, real heavy, and you really have to take a few seconds to have a breather at the end.

So, to wrap this up, RPE is your measure of how intense you are working. It's great to use with progressive overload, because if you are trying to progressively overload, you should be pushing yourself to that next level. Like I said, it is also about being honest with yourself. You guys know your limits and know your body more than anyone else. However, if the trainers and I can see that you are not pushing yourself to that next level, we will suggest you start doing it! Start putting in that effort to get to the next level, use things like RPE, and you can do it all in your head when you're in a class, just subconsciously thinking about how heavy you're going, how hard you're pushing yourself, so you can get that heavier weight, so you can get that push press that you're aiming for, those squats, those dead lifts nice and heavy.

As always, if you girls do have any questions, feel free to ask me or any of the other trainers as well, we are always here to help. I'm always up for a chat at the end of class or come in early, talk to me about anything.

Thanks girls!

Elisha xx

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