Friday, 25 July 2008

Rating how you feel helps you train

I decided to put something up here about RPE scales. These are the standard in measuring how hard some one is working without using any tools. It' s a standardised scale of numbers associated with intensities that has been developed and verified by a scientist named Borg and is know as the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale.

The scale is very simple, that's a key advantage, and looks like this

0
NOTHING AT ALL
0.5
VERY, VERY LIGHT
1
VERY LIGHT
2
FAIRLY LIGHT
3
MODERATE
4
SOMEWHAT HARD
5
HARD
6
7
VERY HARD
8
9
10
VERY VERY HARD (MAXIMAL)

Being short and simple makes it extremely simple to use in an intense exercise setting and since it reuqires no outlay in equipment just either write it out on a bit of paper to point to the value or memorise it and record as necessary.

I remember using this during some fitness experiments we undertook at Uni. We did some maximal sprints on a bike. It was so easy to point to the relvant value every few minutes and it was consistent over time.

So why use this tool
The reason I wanted to make people aware of this is that it's important people are aware of fitness testing approaches outside the standard heart rate approach. Measuring heart rate is useful but by no means flawless. Particularly since it has a time lag between any work the triggers a spike in heart rate and anything for 2-3 seconds to 30 seconds in a corresponding increase of decrease in hr. To behonest hr can take much longer to go down and not bottom out during a session.

RPE however is an instance measure relveant to the person being tested. It gives you a real time method of evaluating your work.

References
A little background can be found in the following articles. My favourite is #4 as it makes the borg scale fun.
  1. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical/measuring/perceived_exertion.htm
  2. http://ahsmail.uwaterloo.ca/kin356/rpe/rpe/The%20Borg%20CR10%20Scale.html
  3. http://www.medal.org/visitor/www%5CActive%5Cch36%5Cch36.01%5Cch36.01.02.aspx
  4. http://exercise.about.com/cs/fitnesstools/l/blperceivedexer.htm
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