If you have been lucky enough to take part in a session at ICON, you would probably noticed a few things about our programmes.

1 – They are cool
2 – We often talk about how you can scale your efforts

Scaling effort comes from the world of RPE. Rated Perceived Exertion. We use this scale as a bench mark for our programming and while it might all seem a bit subjective it’s actually a really good measure of intensity and it allows you to make progress when you feel good and allows you to recover when you are having an off day.

Traditional strength programmes tend to follow a fairly rigid loading scheme, where you add a specific amount of weight to an exercise, in a given timeframe, and generally you can’t add more even if you felt like you could and they tend to have planned periods of recovery when you might not need them.

The beauty of using the effort based system is that it works around you. When you get to the gym feeling like a superhero you can add load/intensity and make some really good improvements in your strength and fitness and when you compare that to a traditional model it’s not, THAT different. Periods of recovery, coasting and added effort. You just get to decide for yourself when you push and when you back off.

Both models will increase your strength and fitness but when the progression model is build around you rather than forcing you to fit the model, you are more likely to enjoy training and get better results because you will be more consistent.

Consistency is a big part of why the effort based system of training works. If one day you wake up and you fell terrible and the prospect of added 5kg to a deadlift you already find hard isn’t very appealing. So you are more likely to not go. If you knew that you had to put in an 7 or 8 out of 10 it wouldn’t really matter what weight you selected and you would feel better about going to the gym and having a workout.


Effort rating scale from 1-10 which can be applied to an exercise programme to make it possible for different people at different fitness levels can have the same quality work out. It also allows you to have a good workout when you feel good and even when you feel a bit rubbish.


We use an effort rating in all our programmes. Our programmes are set up so that you gradually increase the amount of effort you’re putting in. The best results tend to come from an effort rating of between 7-9 and that’s under the assumption that you are not compromising good exercise form.

Here is an example of a session and the effort rating we assign to each section. We divide the programme/menu into sections and those sections have specific effort ratings assigned to them.
So the end result of all this RPE chat is that regardless of whether you feel amazing or you feel like you have been on a seven day bender, you will still have a productive and enjoyable session.

Try it out if you’d like

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