Posted on March 05, 2018 by Louisa Feary

RPE: Rate of Perceived Exertion

Today I’ll be writing about one of the ways of measuring how hard (or not) you’re training during an actual workout. Firstly, RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion and it’s commonly used as a tool of gauging how hard an exercise is for yourself or somebody else – I personally use it often during cardio training with my clients as it’s an effective way of helping me estimate how easy/hard they’re going so I can push them into the right gear depending on what goals we have set.

So as mentioned above, you can use RPE to estimate somebody’s training effort during cardio exercise without having to stop them from exercising or having to ask to perform any sort of physical action aside from answering your question, which would usually be “how are you feeling from 1 to 10?” – of course you’d firstly have to explain the RPE scale to whoever you’re training before asking them so they understand what it is you’re after.

The RPE scale goes from 1 to 10, 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest someone can push themselves and you base your answer on this scale; this usually could roughly correlate with the actual training heart rate zone the person’s in, meaning if they say they feel like 5-6 it means they’re hitting the fat burning zone (50-60% Maximum Heart Rate), if they say it’s getting into 7-8 then it indicates they’re sliding into endurance/conditioning zone and so on. Not to get into too much detail about all the scientific equations behind the percentage of Maximum Heart Rate, RPE is an easy to use method of measuring the difficulty of the cardio exercise without stopping the participant.

You can use RPE to measure yourself when undertaking cardio training by judging how you’re feeling from 1-10 every few minutes or, when you change pace, it could help you maintain the difficultly level that you’re aiming for.

In summary, RPE is a useful tool for measuring either your own or somebody else’s level of difficulty during cardiovascular training without the need to temporarily stop or wear monitors of any sort (like a fitbit band). If you haven’t used this yet then I urge you to have a go and see for yourselves, it could help you make your training more efficient and goal-oriented.

Filip Kozlowski, Beaufort Park