Monday, September 29, 2008

Perceived Exertion - Rate Your Workout

Power Meters: I am fortunate to own one and I find it is one of the most useful training tools imaginable. A power meter shows you exactly how much power you're generating. This tangible measurement is similar to a bench press; you know without question exactly how many plates you have loaded on the bar.

If you don't have access to a power meter or heart rate monitor, you may want to keep a measure of your perceived exertion in a training diary labeled "Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)." Perceived exertion is how hard you feel that your body is working. It is based on the physical sensations you experience during physical activity, including heart rate, breathing, muscle fatigue, etc.

Even though I have a power meter, I still use this gauge in my training log.

1 No exertion at all - Watching the TdF
2 Extremely light ride with Grandma
3 Very light coffee ride
4 Light ride to work
5 Somewhat hard
6 Hard (heavy) - sitting in a fast bunch ride
7 Very hard - rolling turns in a fast bunch ride
8 Extremely hard - off the front from a fast bunch ride in the crosswinds
9 Maximum exertion - add some hills into #8
10 Off the charts! - Melbourne to Warnambool

All people have the ability to sense how hard they are pushing themselves, despite having different individual outputs. Monitoring how your body feels will become easier with experience. In turn, you will be able to better adjust your intensity. Make note of your various RPE numbers in your training diary. How many days in a row has your workout day rated as 7 or above? In order to allow for sufficient recovery you should generally not exceed three consecutive days of RPE greater than 7.