Train Smart: Learning to use R.P.E.

By TAKU

If you have read or used any of my interval training programs, then you know I often recommend creating your own personal R.P.E. scale as a means of measuring both exercise intensity as well as overall performance progression.

R.P.E.

Creating an R.P.E. scale allows the exerciser to subjectively rate his / her feelings during exercise, taking into account personal fitness level, environmental conditions, and general fatigue levels. Perceived exertion ratings correlate highly with measured exercise heart rates and calculated oxygen consumption values. The R.P.E. scale has been found to be a valuable and reliable indicator in monitoring an individuals exercise tolerance and is often used by fitness professionals while conducting graded exercise tests. Here is an example of how to create your own personal R.P.E. scale. We’ll use the numbers ** 0-10 where 0 = nothing at all (the feeling of sitting at home watching TV) and 10 = Very, very hard (the feeling of running as fast as possible for 100-400 meters). You can actually use this R.P.E. scale as a way to measure both intensity and progress. If you are training on a machine* at resistance level 5 and you feel you are at an “8” on your personal R.P.E. scale, you know you have improved when your R.P.E. for the same exercise and resistance level has dropped to a “6” after several sessions. In the following program I will make suggestions for R.P.E. intensity levels to work towards and it will be up to you to match those levels of intensity to your current ability using your personal R.P.E. scale.

Example R.P.E. Level Rating:

1. I’m resting on the couch

2. I’m comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long

3. I’m still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder

4. I’m sweating now, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly

5. I’m just above comfortable, am sweating more and can still talk easily

6. I can still talk, but am slightly breathless

7. I can continue at this pace with some discomfort, talking in short bursts

8. I can only nod in response to your questions and won’t last long at this pace

9. I am very uncomfortable, losing focus and finding it almost impossible to continue

10. I physically cannot continue or I will surely collapse

EXAMPLE WORKOUT: (Use Mode or Tool of choice)

The protocol consists of a graduated, three-minute warm-up, which will elevate the level of perceived exertion to a seven on the RPE scale, as identified in the example above. Following the warm-up phase, perform three-minute work intervals, followed by one minute of rest. During each work interval, (depending on the mode or tool you are using) adjust speed, incline, and / or, resistance in order to achieve a maximal effort that may be sustained over the three minute period. The work / rest intervals should be repeated three to five times, depending upon your level of fatigue. Stop the workout when you feel you have reached a point at which you cannot continue.

During each rest interval ask yourself what is my perceived exertion based on the rating system described above. Do your best to distinguish between overall perceived exertion, and the perception of effort in only the legs. In this way, one may more accurately gauge the overall workout R.P.E..

So remember an R.P.E. scale is simply a reference scale designed to provide exercisers with easily understood  guidelines regarding exercise intensity.

Take the time to create your own R.P.E. scale and start getting more out of your training.

Train Smart = Win Easy.

Pau for Now

TAKU

*Use any tool you prefer: For example

Jump Rope
VersaClimber
Tradmill
Rower

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