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Understanding RPE

Your RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion and refers to how you feel during a training effort. This is judged on a scale from 1-10 (1 = very easy, 10 = maximum). The below table provides an overview of the RPE scale to help you judge your own training.

The table below is an RPE scale that can be applied to all sports (cycling, running and swimming). If you are unsure how hard a workout should feel then refer to this table. If you are finding the workouts feel easy when they should feel hard, you will likely need to update your threshold and training zones.

Training Zone

RPE Rate (/10)

RPE Description

Zone 1: Recovery

​< 3

This should almost feel like walking. Nasal breathing should be easy along with maintaining conversation.

Zone 2: Endurance


You can ride anywhere in zone 2 for aerobic endurance rides. This should feel like your ‘all-day’ pace and breathing rate should be under control. Plus, you will find you can maintain a conversation at this intensity.

Zone 3: Tempo


Training at this intensity should not feel to taxing. However, as the workout duration increase it will become more fatiguing. Conversation is still possible, but you will notice you are taking more breaths between words.

Zone 4: Threshold


Threshold efforts are where your longer time trial pace sits (40km or 25miles). You will feel a continues suffering during these intervals so conversation would be very hard as your depth of breathing will increase also.

Zone 5: VO2max


​Breathing will begin to feel quite heavy during the intervals. You will notice towards the end a lot of lactic acid has built up in the body. Conversation would be very difficult to hold at this intensity.

Zone 6: Anaerobic


At this intensity conversation is not possible. You will experience very heavy breathing rate, and may even find your lungs burn slightly.

If you want further help please contact BCA with the provided below.


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