What are some other methods for judging my workout intensity?

The Borg scale of perceived exertion is another way of determining how hard you are working. Using your own subjective Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) on a scale of 6-20 or a scale of O-10, you determine how hard you *feel* you are working. A rating of 12-16 ("somewhat hard" to "hard" on the 12-20 scale) or a rating of 4-6 ("somewhat strong" to "very strong") on the 0-10 scale reflects a heartrate of 60-90% of maximum and should be the target area for which to strive.

   
   Original Scale           Revised Scale
   
   6                        0    Nothing at all
   7   Very, very light     0.5  Very, very weak
   8                        1    Very weak
   9   Very light           2    Weak
   10                       3    Moderate
   11  Fairly light         4    Somewhat strong
   12                       5    Strong
   13  Somewhat hard        6
   14                       7    Very strong
   15  Hard                 8
   16                       9
   17  Very hard            10   Very, very strong
   18                       *    Maximal
   19  Very, very hard
   20

Source: ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 5th Edition, p. 68, Williams and Wilkins

The talk test is another measure of intensity. You should be able to talk without gasping for air while working at optimal intensity. If you cannot, you should scale down. On the other hand, if you can sing an aria from Madame Butterfly, then you need to work harder.


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