Percieved exertion 10 point scale and how to use it.

About 2/3 of the athletes I coach  use power meters to train, and the majority of them use heart rate monitors as well.  But even with athletes that use all of this fancy equipment, sometimes a  "Rate of Perceived  Exertion" (RPE) scale  is the best way to explain  the subjective  intensity of the workout.       This a basically  how hard  you are going on your own personal 1-10 scale.   While  the scale is 100% subjective, it winds up being quite reliable, and has been validated in multiple scientific  studies. ( you can do a Google Scholar search for GAV Borg or Gunnar Borg) The scale is typically given like this:

  • 0 - Nothing at all
  • 1 - Very light
  • 2 - Fairly light
  • 3 - Moderate
  • 4 - Some what hard
  • 5 - Hard
  • 6
  • 7 - Very hard
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10 - Very, very hard

But I also sometimes explain it like this:

  • 0 - Nothing at all
  • 1-2  Super easy, like a slow walk
  • 3-4 Moderate effort, you  aren't going easy anymore, but you can hold this for a long time
  • 5-6 Hard  holding this for an extended period is difficult,  at or just below   race pace
  • 7 -8 Very hard     race pace, as  you can only hold this for a couple of minutes
  • 9 Almost as hard as you could possibly go
  • 10 - This is as hard as you've ever gone your entire life, like someone is chasing you with a cattle prod.

This is  useful for large groups of people such as stationary  cycling classes ( such as the classes I teach at the  Navy and VA hospitals), or situations where athletes don't have have access to, or don't want to use devices such as power meters  or heart rate monitors.  It is also     frequently  use the RPE scale even with athletes that DO use these training devices.   The fact is, that an athlete needs to know  how to go off of feel,  to gauge their own physiological  responses,  just get a  handle on  what they can do,  and when they need to do it.      Don't get me wrong.  I love training, coaching, and racing with power.   But if you you don't know and  understand what  your boy is doing at the moment, and what you are capable of on a purely primal level.   You'll never really reach your maximum potential.