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Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE): How Hard Are You Really Training?

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE): How Hard Are You Really Training?


As fitness lovers, we often measure the intensity of our workouts by the amount of weight lifted, the number of reps completed, or the distance covered. But have you ever considered how hard you're really training? And is it enough to reach your goals? The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a useful tool that can help you measure your workout intensity and enhance your training for even better results.

What is Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)?

RPE is a fancy way of saying "how hard does this suck?" It's a subjective measure of how hard you feel your body is working during exercise. Think of it like a pain scale, but for your workout.

The Benefits of Tracking Your RPE

Tracking your RPE can help you optimise your workouts in many ways. For example, it can help you:

  • Avoid overexertion and prevent injuries
  • Increase the effectiveness of your workouts by working at the right intensity
  • Track your progress over time
  • Find the right balance between challenging yourself and staying safe

By paying attention to your RPE, you'll become more in tune with your body and get the most out of your workouts. 

How to Measure RPE

The RPE scale is an individual scale, which means you'll need to rate your own level of exertion. It is a sliding scale ranging from 1-10, where 1 is relaxing poolside in The Maldives and 10 is climbing Mt Everest.

It's important to note that you may rate your level of exertion differently depending on the exercise you're doing. For example, your RPE may be higher during a heavy leg day compared to a yoga class. That's okay! RPE is just a tool to help you monitor your intensity across different types of exercises.

How to Use RPE

Using RPE is simple – For each exercise and your total workout honestly reflect on how hard it was and give it a rating between 1-10. Here's a helpful guide:

  1. Sitting on the couch, watching Netflix
  2. Mildly uncomfortable, like sitting in the middle seat on a plane
  3. Slightly harder than a brisk walk, but still pretty easy
  4. Starting to sweat, but can still carry a conversation
  5. Getting harder, but not sure if you're training hard enough
  6. It's uncomfortable but manageable, you can push through the burn
  7. Can only say a few words at a time, starting to regret not taking a rest day
  8. Feels like a battle, your body is in full protest mode
  9. You might pass out and your form is now starting to fail
  10. Congratulations! You have just achieved maximal effort. Please don't die and see a doctor immediately! 


What Level of Intensity Should You Aim For?

The level of intensity you should aim for depends on your fitness level and goals. Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:

  • If you're new to exercise, aim for an RPE of 3-4. This is a low to moderate level of exertion that will help you build endurance without overdoing it.
  • If you're a more experienced exerciser, aim for an RPE of 5-6. This is a moderate level of exertion that will help you improve your fitness without pushing yourself too hard.
  • If you're an athlete or have a specific fitness goal in mind, you may need to work at a higher level of intensity. Aim for an RPE of 7-8 to challenge yourself.

Remember, the RPE scale is subjective, so you should always listen to your body. If you're feeling pain or discomfort, it's time to ease up. It's better to take a break and come back to your workout refreshed and injury-free. 

The Bottom Line

RPE is a useful tool that can help you get the most out of your workouts and prevent unwanted injuries. Use the scale we've provided and remember to listen to your body. Aim for an RPE that challenges you without pushing you over the edge. By doing so, you'll become a fitter, healthier, and happier version of yourself and push yourself closer to your fitness goals. Just remember to keep laughing and have fun on your fitness journey!


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