RPE, the Borg Scale or Rating of Perceived Exertion is a very useful tool that requires no fancy gadgets and is not affected by external factors. It helps us to pace ourselves and train at the right intensity for effective weight loss or fitness.

The RPE scale is used to measure the intensity of your exercise. The RPE scale runs from 0 – 10. The numbers below relate to phrases used to rate how easy or difficult you find an activity.

For example, 0 (nothing at all) would be how you feel when sitting in a chair; 10 (very, very heavy), describes how you feel at the end of an exercise stress test or after a very difficult activity such as a time-trial.

Borg Scale: Rating Of Perceived Exertion

0 – Nothing at all

1 – Very light

2 – Light

3 – Moderate

4 – Somewhat heavy

5 – Heavy


7 – Very heavy



10 – Very, very heavy

In your training plan I refer to RPE to gauge the intensity of your exercise. There are very strong links between RPE, heart rate, and lactate threshold. As such, it is a useful tool to use independently or alongside these other benchmarks.

My method is to gauge your fitness in terms of output – the tangible speed you can produce, or the time you can cover a certain distance in – irrespective of heart rate or lactate. For effective weight loss you must aim for the higher RPE.

After all fitness is in the muscles, and their ability to produce work which results in speed, whether on the bike, run or swim, and this is what counts. In your plan your fitness will be assessed through time-trials and goal/sport-specific fitness assessments.

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