What is RPE? 

and how do I use it to personalise my training? 

What does RPE stand for? 

RPE means rate of perceived exertion. This is a subjective assessment of how physically difficult an exercise is for you. 

"RPE is something you can use to help personalise your training plan" says Dr Matt Cocks, a lecturer in exercise metabolism "it is a really useful tool as it does not require any fancy equipment, just an knowledge of the RPE chart". 

Using this chart helps you to understand the intensity you are working at during exercise. Exercise intensity is probably the most important element of your workout. 

How do I use the RPE chart? 

RPE is based on on observing your body's physical signs during the activity such as:


  • Increased breathing rate 

  • Faster heart rate

  • Feeling warmer

  • Muscle soreness 

During your 5 minutes warm up should be finding it easy to breathe and (if you wanted) it should be easy to sing your favourite tune. This on the RPE chart would be a score of 1.


During the main session though you may start to notice your breathing heavily and now you are able to hold a conversation with a friend but not sing - this would mean you've moved up to 2-3. 

Does the MOTIVATE LJMU Programme use RPE? 

Yes - we use this to prescribe the correct exercise intensity for the different programmes. 

Within the exercise plan you will be provided with both exercise duration (how long you need to exercise for) and an exercise intensity (an RPE score). 

Both the duration and the intensity change over the course of the 12-week programme. They are also very different from programme to programme, so make sure you read through the prescription every week. 

We have provided an RPE level with our programme, and our chart also gives you some tips on how you should be feeling like during each intensity. 

If you would like more guidance on selected the correct intensity contact a member of the research team today! 

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The MOTIVATE LJMU intensity scale