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Borg Scale rate of perceived exertion

If you are looking for a way to assess how hard you're working, using the borg scale is one of the most beneficial practices. Because often with your physical training you will want to be working at a variety of intensity levels, making sure you are hitting your target becomes very important.

For example, during interval training, you must be getting close to max effort and the borg scale will help you determine this. Then you need to back right down on the intensity level, which again, you will be able to gauge by using this measurement protocol.

There are a few varieties of the borg scale available, the most common is the fifteen point, which goes from exercise level 6 up to 20 and then the other version is the nine point and goes from level one through ten.

Below is how the fifteen point version is set up and the approximate percentage of max effort each level corresponds to.

  • 6 - 20% effort (sleep, laying down)
  • 7 - 30 % effort (this corresponds to being in a state of rest)
  • 8 - 40% effort
  • 9 - 50% effort (very light; activities such as a slow paced walk)
  • 10 - 55% effort
  • 11 - 60% effort (light effort; walking at around 3 mph for most people)
  • 12 - 65% effort
  • 13 - 70% effort (somewhat hard; walking at 4.5 mph or a slow jog)
  • 14 - 75% effort
  • 15 - 80% effort (hard; only being able to continue for a short period of time)
  • 16 - 85% effort
  • 17 - 90% effort (very hard; sprinting)
  • 18 - 95% effort
  • 19 - 100% effort (maximum, all out sprint; lasting 10-20 seconds at most)
  • 20 - Exhaustion

So next time you are performing a workout and are aiming to work at a certain intensity level, try gauging how hard your body is working according to the numbers above. For the general workout you will want to aim to be between 13 and 16, however for those who are doing intense cardio interval training or are weight lifting very hard, it's not uncommon to approach the 17-19 levels.

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