Accelerate Your Results: Are You Going Hard Enough?

By Dee

When you are new to strength training, it takes some time to understand technique, how your body moves, adequate loading and ability to recover. After all of this,  you can then start to understand what actually feels like a ‘hard’ session. 

If you’ve been strength training for a while, you’re familiar with the weights, but you might find a period of time where you’ve plateaued, whether that is in your body composition goals or your performance goals. Or on the other hand, you might be so used to training now and you’ve gotten a little complacent in making your sessions challenging enough. 

Assessing your training intensity is a great way to ensure you are embracing challenge, you’re reaching for the next big lift, the next fast run, the next PB you set. 

Intensity can be measured in many different ways and applied to many different training styles. But there a few key points to consider when it comes to strength training that will help you determine when you need to take things to the next level and how to do that. 

Rate of perceived exertion – RPE:

This refers to the amount of ‘perceived effort’ you are putting into an exercise. Usually measured on a scale of 1-10, where a 10 would mean your maximum effort and you’ve got nothing left in the tank, and a 5 would mean you’re still pretty comfortable with that effort. We generally want to be working at a 7-9 depending on the program. 

This, however, can fluctuate depending on your energy levels, your sleep quality, even the time of the month. Because it is our ‘perceived’ effort it is helping you understand wherever your capacity is at on any given day.

RIR – Reps in reserve:

This refers to how many reps you have left in the tank or that you think you cnastill complete with good technique. It’s not beneficial to always work to your max effort with no reps left in the tank, unless you are testing your 1 Rep Max, so we usually use the 2-3 reps rule. Work at a weight or intensity where you could really only complete 2 more clean reps, and this will ensure you are training at a higher intensity but also not training to failure all the time. 


When training the 3 big lifts – Bench Press, Back Squat, Deadlift – we use a 1RM percentage to determine what you’re lifting for x-amount of reps. This is a really accurate way to ensure you’re training at a good intensity to condition strength growth (and not slacking on your lifts). 

23W’s Lifting Party’s are where we test your true 1RM and are able to apply specific percentages of your max load to specific rep schemes and ensure you are building strength in these powerhouse lifts. 

Progressive overload:

This is the KEY to making progress and getting stronger, faster, more powerful. This means that you are making things progressively harder in the gym, either by doing more reps, doing more load (weight), or even increasing your training frequency. 

23W’s Strong programming takes care of this for you with the specific rep schemes of the program for the month and our coaches there to help you increase your weights safely. But it is important to ensure you are choosing heavier weights each week/every few weeks so you are providing the stimulus to getting stronger. 

You can also use the above points to ensure you are progressively overloading your training and making the GAINS you are looking for. 

The key takeaway here is that you are reflecting on your training sessions, your performance and your energy levels to determine whether you can push yourself a little bit more in the gym. It is easy to get complacent and go with the motions, but you are coming to the gym to get stronger, faster, more powerful and to work on yourself! Up the anti, and keeping smashing it in your sessions. 

Want to learn more about training?

Join our 6-week Spring Into Action Challenge!

Our unique SIA program is designed to help you LEVEL UP your training and nutrition game to help you to:

  • Fully understand the science behind training to maximise results, without the BS
  • Feel empowered in your own skin as you build the confidence to train like a weapon 
  • Push your training limits and build an amazing connection to your body and movement.
  • Realise your true potential to do hard things, get results and become unstoppable.

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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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