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What is RPE anyway?

Many of you have seen the Rating of Perceived Exertion scale taped to our cardio machines and the poster on our wall, but what is rating of perceived exertion anyway? Rating of perceived exertion or RPE is a tool provided for you to use to assess the intensity of a workout. This scale is ranged from 1-10 with short prompts to help you think about how hard you might be working during your exercise session. View the scale below for a better understanding of what each number indicates.

How it works:

The scale is there for you to look at during your exercise. You can glance over and determine how hard you are working at that exact moment. The number chosen is completely up to your opinion and your opinion only. Somebody else moving at the exact same speed as you might chose a different number, because that is how they felt. Over time you will begin to remember what working at a certain number feels like for you without having to look at the scale. When choosing a number on the scale, don’t think about it too hard. Go with a gut reaction and try to think about your overall feeling instead of focusing on one thing, like knee pain or quad fatigue. This tool is beneficial for us as your trainers as well. When you choose a number for us it helps us understand how hard you are working.

Why we use it:

The reason why we choose to use this RPE scale is because it is easy and user friendly. Most people are able to understand the 1-10 concept and no major equipment, like a heart rate monitor is necessary. Also it is much safer to use this number to measure work than some of the alternative ways, such as heart rate monitoring. Many medications have an effect on blood pressure and heart rate, as does age and fitness level making monitoring heart rate not a safe way to measure work.

Now you know how to use the RPE scale! Give it a try next time you are doing cardio in the fitness center.

Can’t wait to see you there!

~The WellBound Team

Hopson, J. L., Donatelle, R. J., & Littrell, T. R. (2012). Get fit, stay well! (2nd ed.). Benjamin Cummings.

Wing, C. (2013). Acsm/Nchpad resources for the Certified Inclusive Fitness trainer: The Definitive Resource for physical activity and ability (1st ed.). American College of Sports Medicine.

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