Comparison of Rating of Perceived Exertion Scales During Incremental and Interval Exercise

  • Blaine E. Arney
  • Reese Glover
  • Andrea Fusco
  • Cristina Cortis
  • Jos J. de Koning
  • Teun van Erp
  • Salvador Jaime
  • Richard P. Mikat
  • John P. Porcari
  • Carl Foster University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Wisconsin


The Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is an important measure of exercise intensity, which is useful both as a primary and adjunctive method of exercise prescription. However, there are multiple variants of the Borg RPE scale, primarily the BORG-RPE (6-20) and the BORG-CR (0-10) scales. There are inadequate data available to address the comparability and interchangeability of these two widely used variation of the scales. Well-trained non-athletes performed two increment cycle tests, with each scale used in a random sequence. They also performed interval sessions at three intensities (50, 75 and 85% of peak power output) with each scale used in a random sequence. There were very large correlations during incremental exercise between conventional physiologic measures (% heart rate reserve (r = 0.89 & r = 0.87; and %VO2reserve (r = 0.88 & r = 0.90)) and RPE measured with either BORG-RPE or BORG-CR10, respectively. This pattern was also evident during interval exercise (% heart rate reserve (r = 0.85 & r = 0.84, and blood lactate concentration (r = 0.74 & r = 0.78)) and RPE measured with either BORG-RPE or BORG-CR10, respectively. The relationship between RPE measured with BORG-RPE and BORG-CR10 was large and best described by a non-linear relationship for both incremental (R2=0.89) and interval (R2=0.89) exercise. The incremental and interval curves were virtually overlapping. We conclude that the two most popular version of the RPE scale, BORG-RPE and BORG-CR10 are both highly related to conventional physiologic measures and very strongly related to each other, with an easily described conversion.
Key Words: exercise prescription, perceived exertion, heart rate, oxygen uptake, lactate