How to Exercise with Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Aug 20, 2019

Heart rate is important but listening to your body also has a lot of advantages. There are more variables involved in how hard you should workout than just heart rate. Your stress level, physical health, emotional health, temperature, humidity, the time of day, the last time you ate and what you ate all contribute to the intensity at which you should workout. If you listen to your body it will tell you all of these things.

The rate of perceived exertion (RPE), also known as the Borg scale, was developed by Swedish physiologist G.A.V. Borg. This scale rates exercise intensity from 6 to 20 depending upon how you feel or the perception of your effort.

The scale is as follows:

You can get an approximate heart rate level for each rating by simply adding a zero to each rating. For example a rating of 12 will result in an approximate heart rate of 120 beats per minute. Your RPE will vary depending on the factors discussed earlier. If your body is strong and rested, you will feel strong and your pace will feel comfortable. When your body is in this condition, you are able to train harder and the RPE will support this. If you are feeling tired and sluggish, it is because your body needs a break. In this condition, your pace will feel difficult. Again, this will show up in your RPE and you will train at the proper level for that day.