Indoor Cycling Tips - What is Rate of Perceived Exertion and Why is it Important?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by cutegirl, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. cutegirl

    cutegirl New Member

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    If you're an indoor cycling class participant, or maybe just getting back into a fitness groove, you may hear some new terminology being bantered around in your classes. The term is rate of perceived exertion, and it is a great way to measure your effort and activity level. Let's examine how and why it works...
    What Is Rate Of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
    For years, fitness instructors and participants have struggled to come up with a relatively uniform method of measuring effort level. For example, when an instructor in your class tells you to work harder, what exactly does that mean? How can "harder" be measured? In truth, it really can't. Further, each of us has different capacities for fitness. You may be able to run comfortably at seven miles per hour, while I struggle mightily to maintain a six mph pace. Conversely, what might be an intense workout for me may be the proverbial walk in the park for you.
    To more or less even the playing field, the concept of rate of perceived exertion was introduced. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is used to gauge or measure how hard you're working during a cardio workout. RPE is based on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the hardest. Your instructor will indicate a number, which you will translate to your own intensity level. The best way to measure your intensity level is your ability to chat with your neighbor during the workout. Here are explanations for each of the levels:
    RPE 1-3: This is typically your warm up phase and the tail end of your cool down. You can converse very easily with no effort at all.
    RPE 4: At this level, you are sufficiently warmed up but you can still converse with practically no effort.
    RPE 5: You are beyond the warm up stage and into the actual work of your routine or class. You can still converse quite easily with only a small amount of effort.
    RPE 6: This is the moderate level. You can talk but it requires some effort.
    RPE 7: At this level, your effort level is getting more intense. You are able to converse but it requires quite a bit of effort.
    RPE 8: The work is now difficult and conversation requires maximum effort.
    RPE 9: Now you're only able to get out one or two words at a time.
    RPE 10: This is your absolute peak effort and your entire energy level is focused on the workout. Breathing is heavy and there's no thought of talking.
    RPE is most commonly used in indoor cycling classes, although it is also appropriate for treadmill classes. You will find that some instructors use a scale of one to five for RPE, basically sandwiching the levels together. But since our brains are trained to think on a scale of one to ten, this terminology is more common.
    Understanding RPE is important because it allows you to tailor your workout according to your fitness level and individual capabilities. An instructor can't tell participants to peddle or run at a specific speed because it may well be beyond the skill set of some students.
    Rate of perceived exertion provides everyone a more standardized measurement of intensity level, similar to mile posts in a distance run. When you monitor your effort level with RPE, you are more likely to have enough left in the tank for the really difficult segments of your workout. Try to use the concept of RPE in your next group fitness class. You'll notice a positive difference in your workouts!
     
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  2. kmjohnson02

    kmjohnson02 New Member

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    This actually looks like a really good system. I am in the army and I could use this to monitor my workouts. I am not cycling now because I am overseas. But I am trying to lower my run time. My two mile time has gone down to 12:45. I feel that I need to work on my respiratory more than my leg endurance. I will be using this system to try to gauge my efforts.
     
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