Perceived Exertion Scale How to Tell when you are "in the zone"

Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.

This article was edited and updated on December 19, 2021.

They call it, “FEELING THE ZONE”

There is a magical point where exercise meets with productivity. Sometimes referred to as “the zone,” it is somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of your maximum ability. If you exercise above it, you risk injuries and an inability to continue. 2

How do you know when you're in the zone? Some people simply take their heart rate. Others prefer to monitor their level of exertion.

One way to know when you are over-training or not

Many fitness professionals prefer using the perceived exertion scale. It is a subjective rating of how hard you're working during exercise, based primarily on your breathing and evaluating your level of fatigue.

On a scale of one to ten, your optimum zone is anywhere between a seven and eight. Here are the guidelines for each level:

It is obvious how very personal this scale is — but that is why it usually works.

See also:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. ↩︎

  2. Perceived Exertion is directly challenged by the "work until you feel total fatigue" concept of training. The perceived exertion scale is probably most appropriate for older adults and especially for those who suffer from disabling conditions. ↩︎