We are going to break down and explore in detail:
- Rest Periods & Tempos
Training intensity refers to either:
- How much you are lifting – the intensity of load
- How close you are lifting to your maximum effort – intensity effort
There are different ways of measuring the intensity of load.
Percentage of 1 Rep Max (1RM)
- 1RM = the greatest amount of weight that can be lifted for 1 rep, with proper technique.
- Written as a % of the maximum load
If your 1RM for a back squat is 75kg.
50% of this 1RM = 37.5kg
75% of this 1RM = 56.25kg
You can change the intensity you are working at by changing the % of the maximum load that you work with.
You could opt for a higher % but lower reps, or a lower % and higher reps.
The Brzycki formula can be used to calculate the appropriate amount of weight someone should lift based on their max reps at a certain weight.
|Number of Reps
Repetition (reps) Maximum
- Refers to the greatest amount of weight a person can lift ‘X’ number of times e.g. the maximum weight that can be lifted for a specific number of reps (10RM/3RM etc)
- This assumes that maximal effort is given to perform the reps e.g. if you perform 10 reps at 40kg but could have performed 2 more reps, this is not your true 10RM.
- Is it safe to perform a 1RM test? Is it appropriate for the exercise? Have you got safety measures in place in case you cannot complete the lift e.g. safety bars/spotter?
- These values above are an estimate. Just because the formula says you should be able to lift a certain weight for a certain amount of reps, doesn’t mean this is the case!
- The above table is showing what is possible for a single set. When performing multiple sets, fatigue is a factor and may influence the amount that can be lifted.
- It is a totally different skill to lift for a 1RM compared to a 10RM. It is not advisable for beginners to try 1RM testing until they have solidified the technique.
There are also different ways of measuring effort.
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
- ‘On a scale of 1-10, how did that feel?’ might be a question your trainer has asked you before and it can be hard to answer initially, but this is a scale that measures subjective effort, difficulty and fatigue during an exercise.
- 1 represents minimal effort, difficulty and fatigue
- 10 represents maximal effort, difficulty and fatigue and would show a rep max has been achieved.
- Tuchscherer developed a resistance training specific RPE scale – Reps In Reserve (RIR).
- This can be shown by saying 10 reps at 40kg was RIR 2 (like the above example). This means 2 more reps could have been achieved.
- RPE/RIR can take into consideration the inherent variation we have in performance due to external factors such as sleep and nutrition quality, stress levels, volume across the week.
- These scales are subjective and it puts the ownership on the client to know what intensity they are working at.
- It takes time to understand what true muscular failure feels like, so beginners especially will struggle with getting these scales correct.
- It can be difficult to apply to new exercises when there is no comparison of how it has felt before.
- RPE/RIR scales should not be used as the sole intensity descriptor because of these reasons, but are a good method to assign and adjust training intensity based on how something is feeling on a given day.
- Successful application of these scales requires familiarisation of concept and exercise, experience and honesty with oneself.