Fitness vocab: RPE

Consider this Furthermore series further education for fitness. Here, we help define the terms that all athletes should know.


DEFINITION: RPE stands for rate of perceived exertion, which is the numeric estimate of someone's exercise intensity. The ratings were originally based on those in the Borg scale, a way to measure how hard you're exercising, which ranges from six (no exertion) to 20 (extremely hard).

Today, most people use a modified RPE scale that ranges from zero (resting) to 10 (pushing as hard as you can). To figure out RPE at any point during a workout, consider the effort it takes to talk, how hard it is to continue at your current intensity, the pace of your heart, and your breathing.

For a challenging workout, aim for a six or seven, says Christopher Minson, Ph.D., a professor of human physiology at the University of Oregon in Eugene: “This means you’re working at least moderately hard and you can’t easily carry on a conversation without some breathlessness.” If you're having a hard time talking at all (your answers sound more like grunts than words), you're reaching your max effort.

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