RSI Explained: What Is It and How to Use It in Crypto Trading

RSI Explained

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a widely-used tool for assessing short-term market momentum. It measures a cryptocurrency’s recent trading strength by evaluating the speed and direction of its recent price movements. Traders use RSI to time their trades and spot new trading opportunities. In this article will explain what RSI is, how it works, and how to apply it in crypto trading. Let’s take a look:

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What Is Relative Strength Index (RSI)?

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is a momentum oscillator that tracks the speed and change of price movements. It was developed by J. Welles Wilder Jr. in 1978, and it applies to various financial markets, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, and forex.

RSI calculates the ratio of average gains to average losses over a specific period, typically 14 periods. It determines the average price increase during periods when the asset closed higher and divides this by the average price decrease during periods when it closed lower. The resulting value oscillates between 0 and 100.​

The formula for RSI is:

RSI = 100 – (100 / (1 + Relative Strength))


Relative Strength = Average Gain/Average Loss

Understanding how to read the RSI in crypto trading provides insights into market conditions, helping traders identify overbought or oversold assets, potential trend reversals, and market momentum.

How Does RSI Work?

The RSI, presented as a percentage between zero and one hundred, is typically displayed on a graph below the price chart. This graph usually includes two parallel lines, forming a channel through which the RSI line moves, indicating whether the market is oversold or overbought.

When a cryptocurrency experiences sustained selling pressure, it becomes oversold, suggesting a potential upward rally as indicated by the RSI. Conversely, when a cryptocurrency is heavily bought, it becomes overbought, signaling a likely downward correction.

Analyzing the RSI over a few weeks provides valuable insights. However, examining longer time frames can help assess how accurately the RSI has predicted price changes for a specific cryptocurrency.

Overbought vs Oversold

In RSI analysis, overbought and oversold levels signal potential trend reversals or price adjustments. An RSI value above 70 indicates an overbought asset, suggesting a possible price decline. Conversely, an RSI value below 30 signals an oversold asset, hinting at a potential price increase. The thresholds of 70 and 30 are standard for identifying these conditions.

Bull Market

In a bull market, traders may adjust these levels:

  • Oversold: An RSI below 40 suggests the price may soon rise.
  • Overbought: An RSI above 90 indicates the price may soon fall.

Bear Market

In a bear market, traders often use different thresholds:

  • Oversold: An RSI below 10 suggests the price may soon rise.
  • Overbought: An RSI above 60 indicates the price may soon fall.

Extended Trends

RSI values can stay in overbought or oversold ranges for long periods during strong trends. In these situations, traders should use additional analysis or other technical indicators to confirm RSI signals. This approach helps reduce false signals and improves the accuracy of trading decisions.

RSI in crypto trading explained

How to Use RSI In Crypto Trading

RSI is an excellent trading indicator and can be used in a variety of ways including:

Buying Low, Selling High

RSI serves as a valuable tool for traders to time their trades effectively. Traders often wait for the RSI to surpass 70 before exiting a position and wait for it to dip below 30 before entering a trade. This strategy allows traders to potentially acquire more cryptocurrency for their investment.

Identifying Support and Resistance

RSI helps identify crucial support and resistance levels before they become apparent on the price chart. Support represents the price level that the market struggles to drop below, while resistance is the level it struggles to surpass. When combined with price chart analysis, RSI makes it easier to pinpoint these zones.

Swing Trading

Swing trading involves capitalizing on short-term price fluctuations. RSI serves as a vital indicator for signaling entry and exit points. For instance, traders may buy when RSI falls below 30 and sell when it exceeds 70. Additionally, traders can utilize short positions during declines.

Bullish/Bearish Divergence

Bullish RSI divergence occurs when the price forms higher lows while the RSI forms lower lows, particularly potent when the RSI is in oversold territory. On the other hand, bearish RSI divergence happens when the price forms higher highs while the RSI forms lower highs, signaling a potential sell opportunity for some traders.

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Benefits of Using RSI In Crypto Trading

Understanding the advantages of the RSI indicator is crucial before applying it in trading. Here are some key benefits:

Assessing Momentum

RSI doesn’t just tell you if a market is strong or weak; it gives you insights into how long a trend might last or when it might reverse. This helps traders make smarter decisions about when to enter or exit trades.


You’ll find RSI on every trading platform out there, making it super easy for traders to access. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced trader, you can use RSI without any hassle, giving you more control over your trading decisions.

Ease of Use

One of the best things about RSI is how simple it is to use. You don’t need to be a trading expert to set it up on your chart. Even if you’re new to trading, you can quickly add RSI to your toolkit and start using it to make better trades.


RSI can be used in many different ways. You can use it on its own or combine it with other indicators to get a more complete picture of the market. This flexibility allows traders to adapt their strategies to different market conditions, giving them an edge in their trading.

Drawbacks of Using RSI In Crypto Trading

Understanding the drawbacks of the RSI indicator is crucial before applying it in trading. Here are some key drawbacks:

False Signals

One downside of RSI is the chance of false signals. This happens when RSI suggests a trend change, but the market keeps moving in the same direction. To tackle this, traders often use other indicators alongside RSI to confirm signals.

Extended Overbought or Oversold Conditions

During strong trends, RSI can stay in overbought or oversold territory for a while. This might lead traders to make premature trade decisions. To deal with this, traders adjust RSI settings or use additional analysis to validate signals.

Need for Additional Analysis

Relying solely on RSI might not give a complete picture of the market. It’s crucial to do further analysis and use other tools to make well-informed trading decisions. By doing this, traders can better understand market dynamics and reduce risks.

Tips for Trading Cryptocurrencies With RSI

Below are some practical tips for that will help you trade crypto with the RSI indicator.

  • Adapt RSI Levels: Customize your RSI levels to match the current market trends. For instance, in a bullish trend, set RSI levels higher to avoid premature sell signals.
  • Use Trend-Conforming Signals: Focus on bullish signals in uptrends and bearish signals in downtrends. This helps avoid false alarms from RSI during trending markets, improving signal accuracy.
  • Incorporate Risk Management: Implement risk management strategies to limit potential losses. Set a maximum percentage of your trading portfolio for each trade, such as 1% or 2%, to protect your capital and maintain a sustainable trading approach over time.
  • Combine RSI with Other Indicators: Use RSI alongside other technical indicators, such as moving averages or volume analysis, to confirm signals and increase the reliability of your trading decisions.
  • Avoid Overtrading: Resist the temptation to trade every RSI signal. Instead, focus on high-probability setups and be patient for clear signals that align with your trading strategy.
  • Consider Multiple Timeframes: Analyze RSI across different timeframes (e.g., daily, hourly) to gain a comprehensive view of market dynamics and identify potential trading opportunities.
  • Monitor Divergence: Keep an eye out for divergence between RSI and price action, as it can signal potential trend reversals or continuation patterns.

Final Takeaway

The Relative Strength Index (RSI) serves as a powerful tool for crypto traders to assess market momentum. It sings when prices fluctuate, providing valuable insights into potential trend reversals. However, traders must exercise caution, as the RSI may lead to overbuying or panic selling during rapid market movements.

While the RSI measures push and pull, it’s not a crystal ball for predicting crypto’s unpredictable nature. Market conditions change rapidly, and indicators like RSI may lag behind. Therefore, it’s essential to use the RSI alongside other tools to develop a better and adaptable trading strategy.

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