Measuring RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion)

How hard should I go?

This seems to be the question we get asked most often when a client looks at their workout. No matter how many times or ways we try to explain it, there’s still always a little ambiguity.

To clear this up we try to use specific terminology so athletes become more in tune with their own effort. This helps tremendously with getting the most out of workouts plans as a whole and shortens recovery time.

RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion is the name of the scale we use to measure the intensity of both conditioning and strength workouts. The scale for RPE ranges from 1 to 10. 1 equals sitting on your couch watching Parks and Rec and 10 equals being running from a lion. As you practice with this scale it becomes easier to understand where you are throughout your workout. With this awareness you can dial the exertion up or down as needed.

When we build out your specific plan it is will be very rare that we ask you to hit a 9 or 10 RPE. We reserve these ranges for when we want to test maximum speed or strength. Our athletes spend the vast majority of their time in the 4 to 7 range. In these ranges we stay controlled enough to focus on proper movement. They are also the ranges where you will experience the most muscle building and fat loss.

We want to help you better understand how hard to push each day and customize the workouts to your own fitness level. This tool helps our programming conform not only to your strength and experience level, but to how you feel day to day (how you slept, how you ate, how much other stress is going on in your life, etc.).


Below is a table that makes the scale more clear. In future posts we will go over the breathing gears in more detail. With practice and adaption this aspect of the attached table can fluctuate drastically.

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