During a recent squat session I tried out a bar tracking app and unexpectedly it also provided a bunch of velocity data for the set. I know that velocity based training is a thing but I always thought it was a bit less accessible.

Velocity information from squat set.

I've seen some mixed pieces about how to interpret this data. Information like here seem to have average speeds that relate back to RPE (excerpt below) but I've seen varying tables, such as the one in this Kabuki video where the numbers don't quite agree.

10 RPE- .3m/s and down
9 RPE- .3 to .5 m/s
8 RPE- .5 to .75 m/s
7 RPE- .75 to 1 m/s
6 RPE- 1 to 1.3 m/s
5 RPE- Greater that 1.3 m/s used for starting strength or warm up
1-4 RPE- Warm up weight used for technique and recovery.

Overall this seems to be backed up by the literature. However, other sources say you need to lift with velocity tracking for weeks to develop a sort of baseline for your lifts in order for this information to be accurate. Additionally, when I squat, the velocity is split into two zones: before and after the sticking point. I'm not sure where in the chart I should use.

At the end of the day, I'm not looking to get into velocity-based training but I'd just like to use this as another possible tool, mainly to help me sanity check my RPE ratings.

Question: How do I use this velocity data to improve my workouts and support my RPE estimates?

  • I'd think the velocity before the sticking point would be more indicative of perceived exertion since it's the part where there's more exertion, e.g., once you're unstuck your almost done with the motion. For me the most interesting part would be locating those sticking points even when I'm not fully aware of them. Baseline data is always important, so getting consistent numbers up front seems legit. That there's disagreement on the actual numbers (which would change between lifts anyway) isn't surprising. Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 17:34
  • @DaveNewton -- that mirrors some of my thoughts too. I usually rate my reps based on the sticking point... speed afterwards doesn't matter much if I can't get past it.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Oct 23, 2021 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


(Moving and expanding comments into something easier to read. Caveat: I'm no RPE expert.)

Improving the Workouts

I think there's two main takeaways from understanding your own RPEs:

  1. You can plan a workout against a goal RPE, e.g., "light" vs. "heavy" day.
  2. You have data to support the identification of weaknesses which can be addressed either as part of a regular workout, or a weakness-specific routine.

Light vs. Heavy (Also includes switching up high-load/low-rep and low-load/high-rep workouts.) A calculated RPE lets you guesstimate workloads for the different types.

Approaching Weaknesses (Still the biggest win for me; I may think I know my sticking points, but having something to support/extend/disagree with what I think is helpful.) Knowing an exact sticking point(s) allows addressing that range of motion directly.

Self-Coaching Having this data also allows better self-coaching. If there's nobody watching it can be difficult to figure out what exactly is happening during an exercise, even with video. Being able to objectively quantify motion makes up for lack of a neutral observer during an exercise (at least partially).

Supporting RPE Estimates

Probably just as you've already figured out: over time the velocities can be tied to perceived effort, potentially on a per-exercise basis. IMO the point of a "calculated" RPE is to start aligning perception with data, but you can't do that without an existing corpus tied to your actual perceived effort.

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