How do you gauge RPE?

I always consider RPE similar to the pain rating scale, sounds bad I know! When explaining the pain rating scale, I state 10/10 is the worst pain imaginable. Similarly, when using the RPE I relate 10/10 as the hardest I could possibly do.

Here’s the thing, I’ve only used 10/10 twice, during a crit and a road race, where in the road race I rolled across the finish line and promptly laid in the grass for 10mins incapable of using my legs. I’m stingy with that 10. I’ve used a couple 9.5s and 9s.

Where I have difficulty is gauging a workout, because when reflecting on the intervals, some are 10/10 for the last interval or maybe the last couple minutes of some. But that’s a short period of time and there is rest as well; therefore, I rate the entire workout and consider the length of the intervals. Usually 6-8/10, but I’m not sure if it’s a fair gauge. Like Hunter, Bluebell, Donner, and Clark all were 7-8/10 RPE. Do you all find the same with your workouts or do you find yourself using 9s and 10s more often?

Only use RPE for outdoor rides with no power to get a TSS approximation. If I were to use RPE for indoor TR rides I guess I’d determine how I felt during the work intervals and overall at the end.

@MI-XC I use “effort level” and how I feel on every ride I do with some sort of commentary occasionally. Sometimes the same ride doesn’t feel as difficult and sometimes I feel fatigued or just not into it and effort level goes up then. It’s nice to reflect upon. I don’t actually use it for my tss or anything else, just documentation.


@runriderandi i do the same and call it RPE. I feel, like you, that it can give valuable insight regarding my abilities over time or can help explain things in hindsight like whether I was fighting off sickness or training too much, how well rested and nourished I was for each workout, etc…
I also rarely use a 10…Really only when I can’t complete a workout. Most TR rides are 6-9 for me. If I really have to gut something out - cadence falling, form crumbling, that’ll be a 9-9.5.

If you “fail” a workout, would that almost by definition be a 10 for that workout? A workout that pushes you to the brink of failure would also be a 10.

I guess by this definition, the ramp test, or a 8/20 min FTP test, would be a 10. Does that seem right?

If so, then you can use this as the upper benchmark for what a 10 feels like.

@DaveWh this is where my gauge is different. The ramp test to me doesn’t earn a 10/10 just because the hard work only lasts about 5 minutes in total. Sure, it’s to failure, but it’s meant to be. Eventually. Now if I had to ride at 80-90% for an hour or two then did the rest of a ramp test, that would be a 10/10! And I have a reference of 10/10, I’m just stingy with it, and curious if others are like me and/or find that many workouts get ranked about 6-8/10.

@CrunchyGears I’m glad I found someone who thinks along the same lines? At least I don’t feel like my barometer is completely broken :joy:


Yep - that’s why I posed it as a question. I guess there needs to be a time component involved in RPE also.

Riding for an hour as hard as you can will certainly take more out of you, and more suffering than a ramp test.

But riding to failure for any duration is pretty brutal - albeit for a shorter period of time in a ramp test.

For that matter, a wingate test of 30 seconds is brutal - but it only lasts 30 seconds, then the minute or two afterwards where you’ve realized you haven’t died. So although it’s short, I’d rate a wingate as an RPE of 10.

Mine is roughly the same.
For instance, I’d rate Ramp Test at 6 or 7, while Over-under at 8 or 9.

The most difficult ones to me are Pyramids. Now those get a consistent 10/10 on my scale, just because how hard they are to complete!

Yeah, that’s why RPE is truly subjective I suppose! I have yet to fail a TR workout, but had a tendency to fail a specific outdoor workout numerous times (4mins at 115% 4mins at 75% repeat 4 times), once I gave it a 10 I think…oddly I would break in the ‘recovery’ at 75% so I guess it never felt like a 10 for that reason, but not sure because I never wrote anything beyond RPE.

I guess I’m just trying to become more introspective now that I am diligently rating each workout and adding comments when needed. But somehow am confusing myself in the whole situation :joy:

Are pyramids the over-unders with the ramp up to the over?

Similar but not quite.
With pyramids (aka Russian Steps) you ramp up, while making each effort shorter than the one before. Then you do the same steps but in reverse.

Rest, repeat.

Awful f)£:&)g thing that!