RPE 20: Program Overview

This routine has been properly structured to help you unlock maximum gains over the course of the next ten weeks. Here’s how it all works.

Russ Howe PTI - RPE 20

Welcome to RPE 20.

In the fitness world, the term RPE is used to describe a trainee’s rate of perceived exertion during exercise, with a rating of 1 indicating that the activity is very easy and a rating of 10 indicating they’re working flat-out. Given this information, you could be forgiven for worrying that I’m going to physically destroy you with this program.

That’s not the case, of course!

RPE 20 stands for Rest Pause Execution 20, and it refers to the primary technique this program utilizes to force your muscles to grow bigger and harder than ever before – rest pause!

Program length: 10 weeks.
Frequency: 6 workouts per week.
Session breakdown: One big and one small muscle group per workout.
Rep ranges used: Low, moderate, and high reps.
Muscle buster techniques: Rest pause.

How Does RPE 20 Work?

RPE 20

The key driver of muscle growth here is the Rest Pause technique.

Rest Pause is one of my favourite muscle buster methods, and if you’ve used some of my other programs (like Classic Size) you’ve already encountered it before and know why I like it so much.

But unlike other programs where I combine a variety of muscle buster techniques, RPE 20 focuses entirely on rest pause from start to finish! Using a proven technique like this over the course of a full program will result in some high quality lean muscle gains being made, and I look forward to seeing the transformation you achieve.

Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with how rest pause works, its a very simple technique. After finishing your final set of an exercise, you’ll wait for ten seconds then go back in and see if you can squeeze out a few more reps. For example, if I’m performing four sets of x12 reps on a barbell curl I’ll complete the final set then rest for a ten count and see if I can get any more reps.

Like I said, it’s as straightforward as it gets!

So why do we do this? Well, if you’ve been following my work for a while you’ll know that we need to take a muscle to (or at least close to) the point of failure to stimulate new muscle growth. This technique is an excellent way of doing that, because these extra repetitions take place after the final set to make sure the target muscle is fully zapped, so you can reap the maximum anabolic response from your workout! (1)

As a rough guide regarding how many extra reps you should expect, research from Australia shows that the body can recover by about 30% in just ten seconds (astonishing, isn’t it?!), so in most instances you should be able to achieve about 30% of the reps you were aiming for in your final set. (2)

Which brings me to the other ace up my sleeve…

I’m sure you haven’t failed to notice that the name of this program is RPE 20 – and yes, that 20 also has a meaning!

You see, that’s the number of reps I want you to achieve in your rest pause set.

Considering that you’ve already performed several working sets and are tired, reaching 20 reps will require multiple rest pause attempts. This means you’re going to hit muscle failure several times, and that’s a good thing, because this’ll trigger the release of key anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1) resulting in greater muscle growth! (3)

For example, after completing of your final set of barbell curls, you’ll rest for ten seconds then perform as many extra reps as you can get. If you get 5, that’s awesome, now apply another rest pause by taking another ten second breather and getting some more reps, and so on until you’ve acheived 20 reps.

Yep, it’s gonna BURN!

Oscillating Periodization

RPE 20 program

The style of periodization we use in RPE 20 is called Oscillating Periodization.

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