The KDR RPE Scale – How hard are you working?

The KDR RPE Scale – How hard are you working?

How hard are you really working during your workouts?

At the end of the day, you have to have burned more calories then you consumed to lose weight.  You can accomplish this in only one of two ways:

  1. You eat less food.
  2. You burn more calories through activity.

There is a saying in the fitness field that goes – “You can’t outwork a bad diet.”  That’s 100% true.  However, you can absolutely work hard enough to stabilize a bad diet, and in some cases, actually, move the needle in the way you want it to go.

Meaning, let’s say you have to eat 2000 calories to lose weight.  You eat 2500 calories.  But through exercise, you burn off 700 calories.  You will certainly lose a very miniscule amount of weight over the long term (year).  You just won’t be fitting into those skinny jeans anytime soon.

So…how hard do you actually have to work to “outwork” a bad diet?  Well…let’s dive into that!

In fitness there is something called an RPE scale, it stands for “Rating of Perceived Exertion”.  It’s an objective scale used to quantify subjective feelings and is often used in research studies looking at different aspects of fitness.  It’s also something personal trainers and fitness coaches can use to help figure out how much weight to put on the bar.

Researcher – “How hard did you feel you were working.”

Subject – “Hard.”

Researcher – “Ok.  But how hard.”

Subject – “Really hard.  Stop talking to me I’m out of breath ***hole.”

It usually goes like that.  But with the RPE scale it can go more like:

Personal Trainer – “On a scale of 1-10 how hard did you feel you were working.”

Client – “I think I was at a 6.”

Personal Trainer – “Ok great!”

This is an 8! Good job Winny! Winny for Mayor!

It’s a great scale to use, but generally, it has some limitations:

  1. When it comes to fitness, most people don’t know what a true 10 feels like.
  2. Most people don’t understand the difference between an 8 and 9, or 6 and 7, or even 3 and 4.
  3. People don’t rank their exertion in terms of numbers, they rank it terms of “I could have done 4 more reps or gone for another 30 seconds.
  4. Great, your a 6, but how do we get you to an 8?

As you can see…pretty basic and plain.  BORING!

This is more like a 4. Or what you should look like resting.

So….that’s why we came up with the KDR RPE scale!  It fixes the above problems by:

  1. Emoji.  Man…emojis.  You might not know what a 10 feels like, but if I showed you an emoji with X’s over its eyes, you can understand that’s working almost to the point where you want to pass out.  That’s a 10.
  2. Quantifying exertion during a personal training session or fitness work out.  Think you can do 5 more reps, add 10 pounds.
  3. Asking the simple question – “How much more could you have done?”  And, “How did that feel?”  

Why use the RPE Scale?

As a personal trainer working in the fitness field for over 15 years, I can attest that the hardest thing to do is to pick the proper weight for someone to use.  This doesn’t matter if their goal is weight loss, rehab or just improving their health/fitness.  There is no certification you can take, no books you can read…it’s more of an art that gets honed over years and years of seeing people lift weights.  And, truth be told, it’s by far the hardest thing to nail down in regards to fitness.

Most people don’t work out hard enough, even sometimes with a personal trainer.  A lot of personal trainers don’t feel comfortable pushing people that hard, again, there isn’t a course you can take in the fitness field to address this.  And ultimately, I don’t think it’s the trainers job to say “hey let’s add more weight.” because if the client doesn’t feel comfortable adding more weight, a lot of times it’s a recipe for disaster.

That’s where an open dialogue has to occur between the personal trainer or fitness coach and their client as far as “how did it feel, do you think you could have done more reps or lifted more weight for the same amount of reps.”

The average person usually thinks their 6 is an 8, but in reality, it’s actually a 4.  It’s not really their fault…the average person doesn’t have to do ANYTHING that is as hard as doing a back squat for 10 reps with a load they can maybe handle for 12 reps.  That’s an 8 by the way…exactly where we want you.

Most of the time we want you at an RPE of a 7-8.  That means you could have done an extra 1 rep, maybe 2.  An 8 RPE is the perfect spot for most resistance training sessions because it means your working hard, but not hard enough that your form would substantially suffer.

Another way to look at it would be looking at it in terms of weeks or workouts on a fitness plan.

Week 1/start a new program = RPE 5-6.  You’re just learning the moves, take it easy.

Week 2/2nd time on the program = RPE 5-6.  However, work to really master the form, try and be at a solid 6 on your last set.

Week 3-4/3rd and 4th time on the program = You know what you’re doing, now push it!  You should be at a 7 during these weeks, with your last set at an 8.

Week 5-6/5th and 6th time on program = CRUSH IT!!!  PUSH THOSE WEIGHTS!  Your whole work out should be at a 7-8 with maybe even touching a 9 or 10 if you feel VERY confident in the movement.

We rarely want you working below a 5 unless you’re really working on mastering a lift, but even then, you have to increase the load of the exercise eventually to challenge your ability to perform that exercise.

So, without further ado…I give you the KDR RPE Guide!  Use it…love it…share it with all of your friends.  Live a lifted life.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?  

If you’re like most Americans, not that good.  Stop trying to change something about yourself, just work on improving it…be better then you were yesterday.  We have the perfect challenge for you, it doesn’t start until February 5th, but you can START RIGHT NOW for only $10.  Click the link below to check it out.  Fitness is hard, but it shouldn’t be boring.


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5 Reasons To Do Push-ups

5 Reasons To Do Push-ups

5 Reasons you should be doing Push-ups

Push-ups are one of my go-to exercises. Like you, sometimes I struggle to get my workouts in, so my resistance training days need to be quick and include total body movements that build muscle, burn fat and make me feel like a bad ass. Push-ups are one of those bad ass moves ladies! Seriously, when I feel good and can randomly bust out 10 perfect push-ups…I feel like a total boss! 

You must mean Jamie. And, yes you did.

One way to horrify my husband is by challenging someone/friends/family to a push-up challenge.  I will challenge almost anyone, (except my husband 😉 and have been known to throw down at bars, parties, etc. It’s a great ice breaker PLUS, it feels awesome to do better push ups then most out of shape guys.   

 That time I did a push-up contest with the guys. 

For me, the push-up was one of the first exercises that I trained for that made me feel powerful, strong and confident. Each time I did them I was a little bit better, a little bit stronger, and more confident to push-my self to do more.

This is a big reason why I am passionate about getting other women to do push-ups.  I love coaching women to do push-ups! As a coach, I see potential in most of the women I train that they do not see in themselves. So the first time I say ” Next we are doing push-ups.” the fear and doubt in their face reminds me of where I started. We all have to start somewhere. 

Other than push-ups being totally bad ass here are five reasons to do push-ups: 

  1. Builds Upper Body Strength: you can build upper body strength without having to use a ton of weights. Push-ups target the shoulders, pecs, and triceps which will develop a strong and defined upper body.
  2. Strengthens your core: most people don’t know that a strong core is key to a push-up. Ever wondered why your hips sag or hike during your push-ups? Your abdominal muscles are acting as stabilizers during the push-up just like they would in a plank.  Weak abs = poor push up form. 
  3. Increases energy quickly: Sure does! Two scenarios come to mind for this. First one, I hit a 2pm energy dip, I already had a coffee (or 2) and am about to coach a class, but I am still draggin a little. What do I do? Drop down and bust out some push-ups. Second, it’s been a long day, I have plans with friends to get some drinks and listen to some live music.  It’s too late for coffee. Psst…push-ups! You see now why I like to challenge people?   I get a quick increase of energy…I am really just helping everyone out while I get my competitive energy out 😉 Both scenarios create an almost immeddiate boost in energy. Just a few push ups increase circulation, fire up the brain, heats the body up and boosts energy levels.
  4. Increases Bone Mass: Let’s face it, as we get older our bone mass declines. That’s why doing weight baring exercises like push-ups are important to keeping our bones strong. Along with major muscle groups, push-ups are also good for your wrists and elbow, so your risk for injury is low.
  5. Weight loss: Since the push-up is a total body movement it will increase your heart rate quickly…yay. Increasing your heart rate will result in burning more calories, weight loss and overall improvement in your body composition.  PLUS!  The less you weight, the more push ups you can do! 

I love push-ups so much that I created an 8-Week Push-up Princess Program that I am testing out RIGHT now with a group of women ready to become a Push-up Princess. 

Are you ready to become a bad ass push-up princess with me? 

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Squats are bad for your knees – FALSE!

Squats are bad for your knees – FALSE!

Have you ever heard that “Squats are bad for your knees?”  Let’s bust that myth RIGHT NOW because it is FALSE!

Where did this come from?

First of all – there are NO studies to support this statement.  Zero.  None.  There are a number of studies that look at the loading forces on the knee through various squat depths, however, none of them conclude that squatting is “bad for the knees”.  This is just one of the studies I found.  

“Contrary to commonly voiced concern, deep squats do not contribute increased risk of injury to passive tissues.”

Source – Analysis of the load on the knee joint and vertebral column with changes in squatting depth and weight load.

There is some talk about a Dr. Karl Klein who back in the 50’s looked at the rising knee injuries in college football players.  He concluded that deep squats were what was causing the issues.  Hmmmm….could it have been maybe that players played both offense AND defense?  This story then got picked up by Sports Illustrated after he released his findings in 1961.  Then the American Medical Association came out with their position stand on squat – stating that squats were bad for your knees and should be avoided.  


Ugh…so stupid.

And that folks…was the early death of squatting.  Thanks to Dr. Klein, SI and the AMA we, as trainers, had to listen to our clients tell us how bad squats were for your knees..for the  next 50 years.  All this was based on NO SCIENTIFIC STUDY.  That’s an important point to remember.  

Squats aren’t bad of your knees…the way you are doing them is bad for your knees.

Saying squats are bad for your knees is such a silly thing when you think about it.  Every time you get out of a chair/take a dump/get out of your car – that’s a squat.  As human beings we were MADE to squat!

From an evolutionary perspective – if we couldn’t squat, we wouldn’t have been very good hunters.  Ever try hiding standing up?  Also…did you know that the first firing position initially taught to rifleman in the military was to fire from a deep squat?  That’s right!!!  It’s much easier for you to drop down into a squat position and get back up into a run then it is to lay all the way down on the ground, sight, fire, then get up.  Maybe not in hunting a deer, but certainly in a fire fight against an enemy.

The reason this was taken out was because people were complaining of knee pain.  I’ve worked for the military, they don’t just throw out an idea and hope it works.  This was a position that was used for hundreds of years that had to be changed in the mid 20th century due to people sitting more and not having good mobility and/or strength to perform this task.

Then you have the biomechanics perspective – our knee joint is a hinge joint, it’s made to go from a full straightened position to a fully flexed position.  Black, red, brown, white no matter your skin color, we are all built the EXACT SAME WAY.  So, explain to me why entire continents of people can squat ass to grass (that means all the way down in fitness talk) with no pain?  Often times when I throw this out to people, the answer I get the most of is – “because they do it often.”  


Where does the problem lie?

The problem that arises when people try and squat, i.e. the reason why people’s knees hurt when they squat is three fold:

  1. Their form sucks.
  2. They have poor mobility in their ankles and hips which leads to their knees getting beat up.
  3. They have an underlying pathology of pain like arthritis (even if you have arthritis you can still squat safely and effectively) or a torn meniscus or something along those lines

Bad form folks. Don’t be like Jonny “I don’t know Squats”.

That’s it for part one.  In part we will go over the two different ways to squat as well as how to fix tight ankles and hips AND when you seriously just shouldn’t squat.


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Buttfessions – why is a strong butt important?

Buttfessions – why is a strong butt important?

My buttfession this week is a little bit different than the last 2, I want to talk about the safety of having a strong butt. Yes! If your ass is weak you are in some real danger. Danger?! That may be a little dramatic but we take glute strength pretty serious around here.
That’s why we tell all of our members to squeeze their glutes as much as possible!

So what do I mean by that? Think about it, the glutes are the largest muscle in the human body according to the library of congress.  Not in some of you…in some of you those glutes that are supposed to be big and strong and round…are flat, small and weak.
What do the glutes do?

They are responsible for:
  • Hip extension (moving the leg behind your hip)
  • Hip abduction (moving your leg to the side)
  • Hip external rotation and internal rotation (pointing your foot internally and externally)
  • Raising the body up from a forwardly displaced position (think deadlift)
  • Lifting the body out of the stooped position (think squat)
  • Femoral, patellar and tibial alignment (knee pain? check the butt!)
  • Stabilizing the lower back and sacroiliac joint via its attachment into the thoracolumbar fascia (Back pain? check the butt!)
  • Keeps the pelvis level for walking and running

Strong glutes basically help you cook better and look good doing it 😉

Weak glutes can cause hip pain, knee pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain…even neck pain! Research has shown that the glutes are the first muscle to become inhibited with lower extremity (ankle and knee) and lower back injuries.  If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, had knee pain or lower back pain, it’s a good bet you have weak glutes.

That’s some pretty serious stuff! So if your glutes are weak or turned off then you will have some serious issues at some point.
About 4 years ago I injured my low back, I had a herniation at L4 and L5. It wasn’t from one specific incident. I competed in my first powerlifting meet months before, was continuing to train for my next meet, traveling a lot for work, and I just moved the wrong way one day and there it was. Ouch!  It hurt to touch my toes, it hurt while I was sleeping, I couldn’t sit for long periods of time with out fidgeting…it really sucked!
It turned out that I was using my lower back muscles to do what my glutes were supposed to do.
And what a bitch it was recovering. No lifting, working out, running, or any of my day to day activites…for about 6 months. It was very frustrating!  The truth is weak glutes are dangerous. The loss of glute strength can be debilitating.

6 months after my injury I started an intense 16 week glute program to strengthen my glutes and fix my back. My butt is stronger AND I can do everything I could do before, but better!
With that being said I still have to do those glute builders and sculpters, you cannot just do a strength program of any kind and then stop. You don’t just become strong enough, you have to keep it up!
In the next installment of buttfessions we are going to talk about how you can tell if your glutes are strong enough.  But for now – do this exercise every day, shoot for 100 reps at a time.  Follow the below progression
Week 1 = 10 reps 10 times per day
Week 2 = 20 reps 5 times per day
Week 3 = 25 reps 4 times per day
Week 4 = 50 reps twice a day
Week 5 = 100 reps every day

Do you think you might have a weak butt that is contributing to join paint?  We have a perfect program for you, click the image below for more info.

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Try this weekend workout out!

Try this weekend workout out!

Try this weekend workout!



Marching Hip Ups

Jump Squats

Prone Blackburns into a Reach n Curl

Inch Worm w/ Shoulder Touches

SL Ground Touches

Perform each movement for 45 seconds on 15 seconds off. Repeat 3-4 times.

Happy Weekend! Enjoy.


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Are your X-ray and medical imaging results helpful or harmful?

Are your X-ray and medical imaging results helpful or harmful?

We don’t just help people lose weight, we also help them feel better and get them out of pain.  Sometimes that involves hearing second hand what their doctors have said to them using x-ray or medical imaging results to base their opinions off of.  Often times we ask ourselves – do these x-ray and medical imaging results help or harm our clients?
  • We hear this a lot –
  • “my doctor said I am bone on bone”
  • “my doctor said I need a joint replacement”
  • “my doctor said…blah…blah…blah.”
First, understand our stance on Medical Doctors – they are not god.  What they say is based on years of developing critical thinking skills in the medical arena.  For the most part that’s what a doctor does – they look at the situation, acquire information, interpret that information and then use critical thinking skills to determine the best course of action.  Their word is not gospel, they are human and therefore can/do make mistakes AND their bias (like everyone’s) plays heavily into their treatment plans.
A mechanic will often tell you your car needs work – a surgeon will often tell you that you need surgery.
Doctors are no different.
Of course they have your best interest at heart (hopefully), however, there is one hurdle all doctors must overcome – exposure.
What does that mean?
If you come to KDR 4 times a week every week for a year that’s 208 visits, that’s 208 times that we are exposed to you.  How you move, how you carry yourself, how you respond to physical/emotional stress, how you eat, how easy it is to get you to change, etc.  We have more exposure in one year to a single person then they will most likely have to the entire medical community in their lifetime.
So, we see the people that are “bone on bone” or “hip replacement candidates” and let me just say – it’s not as bad as the doctor makes it out to be.
This is a great video explaining that.  Most doctors (excluding PT’s, but their job isn’t to interpret imaging results) have no idea of how the body works when it comes down to skeletal muscle systems impacting the whole body.  Sure your knee might be riddled with arthritis but that’s because your glutes are weak, your ankles are tight and your hamstrings are locked down…all leading to your knee having problems with how it works with the rest of the body.  Just because something is “bone on bone” doesn’t mean you’re screwed!
Take 6 minutes – watch this video.  Please.  If you’re going through a situation where you are in pain and the doctor has taken imaging of you to back up his explanation of why you’re in pain, you need to watch this.  Don’t go that surgery route!
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