Perceived Exertion Scale

Follow the below guide when gauging your exercise intensity level.  Depending upon the program, your trainer may prescribe you to work at specific intensities.

1-10 Perceived Exertion Scale

  • Level 1: I’m watching TV and eating bon bons
  • Level 2: I’m comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long
  • Level 3: I’m still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder
  • Level 4: I’m sweating a little, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly – Moderate/Aerobic 4-5
  • Level 5: I’m just above comfortable, am sweating more and can still talk easily
  • Level 6: I can still talk, but am slightly breathless – Hard/Aerobic Intervals 6-7
  • Level 7: I can still talk, but I don’t really want to. I’m sweating like a pig
  • Level 8: I can grunt in response to your questions and can only keep this pace for a short time period – Very Hard / H.I.I.T 8-9
  • Level 9: Think about talking to me, I’ll hit you
  • Level 10: I wish I were dead

OR – you may use the below 6-20 scale

Borg Perceived Exertion Scale

6  No exertion at all

    Extremely light (7.5)

9  Very light – corresponds to “very light” exercise. For a healthy person, it is like walking slowly at his or her own pace for some minutes

Moderate – Aerobic “Fat Burning” Training Zone.   11-13


11  Light


13  Somewhat hard – but it still feels OK to continue

“Hard” Range -Often Used for Aerobic Intervals     14-16


15  Hard (heavy)


H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training)    17-19

17  Very hard – is very strenuous. A healthy person can still go on, but he or she really has to push him- or herself. It feels very heavy, and the person is very tired.


19  Extremely hard – For most people this is the most strenuous exercise they have ever experienced.

20  Maximal exertion

Borg RPE scale
© Gunnar Borg, 1970, 1985, 1994, 1998

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