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RPE and Velocity Relationships for the Back Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift in Powerlifters
The purpose of this study was to compare average concentric velocity (ACV) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) based on repetitions in reserve on the squat, bench press and deadlift. Fifteen powerlifters (3 female, 12 male, 28.4 ± 8.5 years) worked up to a one repetition maximum (1RM) on each lift. RPE was recorded on all sets and ACV was recorded for all sets performed at 80% of estimated 1RM and higher, up to 1RM. RPE at 1RM on the squat, bench press and deadlift was 9.6 ± 0.5, 9.7 ± 0.4 and 9.6 ± 0.5, respectively and were not significantly different (p > 0.05). ACV at 1RM on the squat, bench press and deadlift was 0.23 ± 0.05, 0.10 ± 0.04 and 0.14 ± 0.05 m·s-1, respectively. The squat was faster than both the bench press and deadlift (p <0.001) and the deadlift was faster than the bench press (p = 0.05). Very strong relationships (r = 0.88 to 0.91) between percentage 1RM and RPE were observed on each lift. ACV showed strong (r= -0.79 to -0.87) and very strong (r= -0.90-92) inverse relationships with RPE and percentage 1RM on each lift, respectively. We conclude that RPE may be a useful tool for prescribing intensity for the squat, bench press, and deadlift in powerlifters, in addition to traditional methods such as percentage of 1RM. Despite high correlations between percentage 1RM and ACV, a 'velocity load profile' should be developed to prescribe intensity on an individual basis with appropriate accuracy.