Rating of Perceived Exertion Scales
The RPE Scale is a common method for determining exercise intensity levels. It is used in some research studies for that purpose, but may also be used in training programs to describe the intensity of training sessions. The scale of perceived exertion is how hard you feel your body is working, and therefore is a subjective measurement.
The commonly used scale is based on the research of Gunnar Borg, and is therefore also called the Borg Scale.
There are three versions of this scale on this site:
- Borg 6-20 - the original scale as developed by Borg, with the ratings between 6-20 which can correspond to 1/10 of the exercise heart rate.
- Borg CR10 - an updated combined category and ration scale by Borg with the ratings between 0 (nothing at all) and 10 (very very hard).
- Rob's RPE-5 Hand Scale - a new scale with some advantages over the other scales. For this RPE Scale, the subject just holds up the fingers of their hand to indicate the intensity level - from 1 to 5.
Instructions for Use
The RPE measurement should be taken while the subject is undertaking the exercise, not just after they have stopped. Prior to exercising, the subjects should be given instruction about how to use the RPE scales. Use the following text as an example of what to say.
Do not concern yourself with any one factor such as leg pain or shortness of breath, but try to focus on your total feeling of exertion. Look at the rating scale while you exercising. Choose the number that best describes your level of exertion. Try to evaluate your feeling of exertion as honestly as possible. It is your own feeling of effort and exertion, not how it compares to other people's scores.
- there is also a Borg CR100 (centiMax) Scale, a more fine-graded CR-Scale compared to CR10.
- Borg, G, "Perceived Exertion as an indicator of somatic stress", Scandinavian journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 1970, 2(2), 92-98
- Borg GAV. Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion and Pain Scales. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1998.
- Borg E, Borg G, Larsson K, Letzter M, Sundblad BM., An index for breathlessness and leg fatigue. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Aug;20(4):644-50.