Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) measures the intensity of an exercise. RPE is a subjective rating based on how you feel physically and mentally during training, and is useful especially when you don't have a power meter or heart rate monitor to gauge your effort.
RPE 1-2 Active Recovery
Easy spin or light pressure on the pedals, minimal sensation of leg effort or fatigue. This is known as Zone 1 training where average power is below 55% of FTP and heart rate is below 68% of LTHR.
RPE 2-3 Endurance
All day effort, breathing is more regular than during an easy ride, but you are still able to hold a continuous conversation. This is known as Zone 2 training where the target average power is between 56%-75% of FTP and heart rate is between 69%-83% of LTHR.
RPE 3-4 Tempo
A "spirited" group ride, breathing is deeper and more rhythmic than during an endurance ride, conversation may be somewhat challenging, This is known as Zone 3 training where the target average power is between 76%-90% of FTP and heart rate is between 84%-94% of LTHR.
RPE 4-5 Lactate Threshold
Race pace, continuous sensation of moderate or even greater leg fatigue, deep and shortness of breathe, and difficult to hold a conversation. This is known as Zone 4 training where the target average power is between 91%-105% of FTP and heart rate above 95% of LTHR.
RPE 6-7 Vo2max
Vigorous efforts lasting between 3 to 8 minutes with strong to severe sensations of leg effort or fatigue, breathing is ragged and conversation is short. This is known as Zone 5 training where the target average power is between 106%-120% of FTP and heart rate above 100% of LTHR.
RPE >7 Anaerobic Capacity
Very hard and short efforts between 30 seconds to 3 minutes, with severe sensation of leg fatigue, can barely breath and able to only speak a few words. This is known as Zone 6 training where the target average power is between 121%-150% of FTP and heart rate is generally not use as a guide.
Tip: don’t look at your heart rate while doing these efforts, all you need to do is to commit to the maximum effort for the required duration.
RPE credit/sourced: Training and Racing with a Power Meter, Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan
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