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.

Level up your kettlebell routine

Level up your kettlebell routine

Run these bridges

4 run-worthy bridges, with interval workouts to match