An RPE Chart is a way for clients to express how hard they feel they’re working. For someone who is new to exercise it’s often difficult for them to understand how hard they are working. You will often be able to get a good estimate from their breathing rate, their talking, and their sweating how hard they are working, but often times, someone new to exercise won’t know how hard to push themselves.
Rate of Perceived Exertion Chart
I explain to my new clients that they will feel hot, they will sweat, their breathing rate will be faster, they will feel out of breath, their heart will pound, and they may find it difficult to talk, and that this is NORMAL.
How to Use an RPE Chart
You can use a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) chart to help them understand and communicate actual or planned intensity level by saying something like “today I want you to be working at a level 7” or by asking them… “what level RPE do you feel you’re at?”
Teach your clients to communicate their perceived effort levels
To get the best results for a client you must both be on the same page and understand both how hard they are working, and how hard you want them to work. The RPE chart is a great way to communicate this. I have a laminated RPE card in my kit bag that I use with my clients.
Heart Rate Monitors Can Further Assist
Heart rate monitors are a great way to calibrate clients to how hard they are actually working from how hard they initially ‘perceive’ that they are working during cardio work. I find that clients always over-estimate how hard they are working initially, but quickly learn how their bodies should feel at each of the RPE levels with the help of a heart rate monitor and an accurately calculated heart rate zone. This helps them to train at the correct level for the desired cardio effect.
You can find an RPE Chart in the Personal Trainer Business Forms and Templates pack for you to customise to your needs.