What is the RPE Scale?

What is the RPE Scale?

What is the RPE Scale?

RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion and is a scale used to express how hard you feel you’re working during an exercise session. It was originally invented by a Swedish scientist, Gunnar Borg in the 1960’s so it’s been around for a while! In the 80’s he adapted it further for simplicity using a 0 to 10 subjective scoring system. It allows a coach to set an intensity level for a fitness session that is specific to the person completing it.

How to use this in your training plan?

When exercising you should consider how hard you are working out based on your breathing rate, heart rate, increased sweating and muscle fatigue and place that perceived intensity level on a scale of 0 to 10. 0 being a complete rest and 10 being the maximum effort you can give. Depending on the type of training sessions you’re doing, it could just be one of 4 elements of exertion like muscle fatigue, or it could be a combination of all of them.

When you see a training session in your plan that has an RPE scale attached to it, you should aim to complete the session at the recommended level of intensity. But if you feel uncomfortable or unable to do this you should train at an intensity that it right for you.

Here’s the scale and associated level of intensity.


Perceived Exertion Level


No exertion, at rest


Very light






Moderate to hard


Hard to very hard


Maximum effort, highest possible



Webmd Online, Nov 27, 2021. www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-is-rpe

NASM Online, Kinsey Mahaffey. blog.nasm.org/rate-of-perceived-exertion