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Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale - RPE

Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale - RPE

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The Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) is used to measure the intensity of your exercise. Our scale runs from 1 – 10 to show varying levels of effort. The numbers relate to descriptions or feelings used to rate how easy or difficult you find the activity you are doing.

Pacing and an awareness of the effort you are putting in are essential for successful cycling.  In our Sofa to 50 km plan, effort guidelines are made based on a simple Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE).




Sitting on a sofa doing nothing.


Getting up to make a cup of tea.


Easy paced recreational riding, slight feeling of exertion.


All-day paced riding, not easy but definitely sustainable. Able to maintain a full uninterrupted conversation.


Riding consciously quicker but still able to talk easily.


Upping the effort, only able to talk in short sentences.


Building on Level 6, you could probably just about respond “I’m fine!” if someone asked you how you felt.        


Riding hard, you can only sustain this for a couple of minutes and only communicate with single word answers.


Almost as hard as you can possibly push your pedals


100% sprint for the line.

It is also important to be aware of cadence, this is the rate your legs turn over and is referred to in terms of revolutions per minute (rpm). Many novice riders make the mistake of not using their gears correctly and riding with too low a cadence. The simplest way to monitor cadence is to purchase and fit a cheap speed/cadence monitor to your bike. This will also let you know how far you manage to ride. Alternatively, every now and then, simply count the number of pedal rotations one foot makes in 15 seconds and then multiply by four to get your minute rate.