Perceived Exertion Scale – How to Monitor Your Exercise Intensity

Monitoring Your Intensity with Perceived Exertion

The rate of perceived exertion or RPE is a subjective tool for keeping track of how hard you’re working. During your workouts, think about how you feel and match it to one of the levels listed below to monitor your workout intensity. The general guidelines:

  • Level 3-5: Warm up Warm ups will be between Level 3-5
  • Level 5-8: Getting into your target heart rate zone during cardio
  • Levels 9-10: More advanced activities like high intensity interval training, climbing Mount Everest or sprinting from a rabid dog

Your perceived exertion, or your RPE, refers to how hard an exercise feels. For my workouts, I like to use a 1-10 scale like this one:

Perceived Exertion Chart

Level 1 – I’m lounging around watching TV and feeling great.

Level 2 – I just got up and got myself a glass of wine. Now I feel even better.

Level 3 – I’m taking a leisurely stroll and could probably do this all day, especially if I had more wine.

Level 4 – I’m moving faster now and am starting to sweat. This is starting to feel suspiciously like exercise.

Level 5 – Now I know I’m exercising, but I’m only a little out of my comfort zone. I can still talk.

Level 6 – I’m working harder now and can still talk, but it’s getting harder. I could use that wine right about now.

Level 7 – Okay, now I’m breathing harder and I can talk, but only in very short sentences.

Level 8 – I’m working really hard and can only stay at this level for a short time. No way can I talk.

Level 9 – Gun to head? I could talk. I think I might be dying.

Level 10 – I am dead.

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