If you’re planning to get fit, or maybe even want to train to do a charity bike ride, consider how you are going to monitor the intensity of your workouts. The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is the easiest way to measure exercise intensity – and it’s free! In the table below I have added in the heart rate percentages as well. The RPE table used here is a simplification of the Borg Perceived Scale of Exertion.
Aerobic Training Zones: Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), and Related Heart Rate Percentages
|1 (Recovery)||1 to 2||Very light||I'm so comfortable I could do this all day!||40% to 45%|
|2 (Endurance)||3 to 4||Light||I'm a bit sweaty, but I feel good and can easily carry on a conversation||46% to 50%|
|3 (Tempo)||5 to 6||Moderate||I am a bit breathless now, but I can still talk||56% to 60%|
|4 (Lactate Threshold)||7||Somewhat heavy||I guess I could talk if I had to, but I really don't want to, plus I'm sweating like a race horse||61% to 67%|
|5 (Above Threshold)||8||Heavy||If you must ask me a question, don't expect me to do more than grunt. I need to stop soon.||68% to 75%|
|6 (Aerobic Capacity)||9||Very heavy||I am probably going to die||76% to 80%|
|7 (Anaerobic Capacity)||10||Very, very heavy||I think I just died||81% to 85%|
Using the above scale, an exertion level from 1 to 3 will keep you in the low middle of your aerobic training zone, and would be a good place for a beginner to start with aerobic exercising such as cycling. As you progress, you can start exercising in higher levels of perceived exertion.
Generally speaking, Level 4 of RPE is enough to get average cyclists fitter. You should only use higher levels that that if you are planning to do competitive cycling, or want to achieve peak levels of fitness for other reasons.
If you want to have higher levels of precision than just your self-perception, consider using equipment such as a heart rate monitor, a fitness tracker, or a smart watch, such as the top-rated Garmin Vivoactive HR.
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