« Why You Need a Power Meter | Main | How to Optimize Your Economy, Part 1 »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Mike Rehab

If your RPE isn't zero when coasting down a hill surely your perception needs calibrating.

Joe Friel

Mike--The typical RPE scales are 1-10 and 6-20.


Hi Joe, I think you're a great artist! I especially like your renditions of the bicycle :) Kidding aside, I really like the picture; it's a perfect example of a picture worth a thousand words.

One question: about how long would it take heart rate to stabilize while riding up the hill? If it varies depending on an athlete's fitness, what's a typical range? Thanks.

Mike Rehab

Hi Joe,
Thanks for the reply.
The RPE on the graph is higher coasting down the hill than it is when riding on the flat.
I'd suggest the RPE while coasting should be 1, or 6. depending on the scale used.

Your graph suggests the subject is very poor at determining their own RPE. Of course a power meter is better than poorly determined RPE.

Personally, I base my RPE on how hard I feel I am turning the cranks, rather than the feeling in my heart/lungs/legs.

I feel I increase the accuracy of my own RPE by determining my RPE before looking at the Watts/HR output of the WattBike I use 2X a week.

Chris Sharrock

This is so bizarre. I was actually thinking about your last post regarding the delayed heart rate response to power output on my training ride just a few minutes ago. It would be great to have a power meter but sadly I can't afford it while at university. One day!

Thanks for your posts, keep them coming; they're very thought provoking!

Joe Friel

Hi Mike--I see your point now. I consider RPE to be a reflection of what the body is experiencing. So at the top of the hill when just starting down and HR and breathing rate is still along with perhaps muscle acidosis in legs RPE would still be greater than 1/6. At least to my way of thinking. Thanks for the comment.

Joe Friel

Hi Bruce--Good question. It would depend on how long the hill is and how intense the climb is (assuming steady all the way up). It could take 3-5 minutes if riding at near lactate/anaerobic/functional threshold. The more fit the athlete is the longer the delay.


Is there anything to be learned about the athlete's rate of recovery from the downhill coasting part of the heart rate curve?

Joe Friel

Madeleine - Probably not a lot as it is unlikely to be precisely repeatable experience. But the faster HR falls during recovery the more fit one typically is.


Hi Joe,

I have a question regarding training with power on a turbo. I have the choice of setting a power level that the turbo will maintain or I can set a slope and then choose my gearin/cadence to achieve my target power.

I find that with the power level set, my cadence will drop near the end of the last/last couple intervals but I maintain the power level. With the slope approach, it is harder to maintain the power output even with adjusting my cadence either up or down with gear changes.

Is there a benefit to one approach over the other?


Joe Friel

Hi Mark--Every set of workouts has both up and downsides. You need to whatever comes the closest to having you prepared to do similar workouts on the road when the weather allows.

Barry Eyre

Hello Joe,

I have been following your training bible book for several months now and am about to enter the build phase. All my training has been endurance and tempo with no focus on anerobic intervals. I have done a weight lifting program which is a first for me.. This week I did a 1 minute max wattage test. In your opinion, where should I be relative to my max 1 minute output last year? below? above?

Thanks your your input.



I'm loving the diagram, but my initial reaction is similar to the point from Mike Rehab. It appears the RPE is more like a "Rating of Perceived Discomfort."

I've always considering my RPE number to come from the power meter lobe of my brain if that makes sense. Basically, if you're used to thinking in terms of power, you'd be better at gauging RPE. In contrast, if one analyzes everything based on HR, their RPE is likely to reflect their HR (much like the diagram.)

Joe Friel

Levi--Good comment. Understood. Thanks!

Joe Friel

Barry E--At this time in the season (I'm assuming a lot here like which hemisphere you are from) most athlete's power numbers lag behind last year's. But the shorter they are (as in 1 min) the more likely they are to be similar (again, an assumption here that you are an endurance athlete).

Barry Eyre

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your response to my question.

I live on the east coast of the usa. I am road racing cyclist doing races up to 65miles, so I guess that makes me an endurace athlete. My 1m number was 95% of my max from last year. last year it took me until June to reach the 1 min power output I hit last week. I am curious that you say the 1m power is likely to be similar. I thought that we humans lose the top end fitness first. Is that not why we can't peak for very long? because the anerobic fitness (which is what I need for a 1m interval) is very hard to maintain.

puzzled in Rhode Island.

Joe Friel

Barry Eyre--Anaerobic alactic fitness doesn't change that much, esp given that endurance athletes are not all that well designed for this level of stress.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Joe Friel's Sponsors

Blue Competition Cycles
"Specialized Bikes is my newest sponsor. I’ve been impressed with their bikes for a long time so I tried one. Had to have it. What a great ride!"

D2 Shoes
"I’ve been using custom-made D2 Shoes for years. Currently on my fourth pair. And, yes, they have midsole cleats as described in my blog."

ADS Sports Eyewear \
"ADS Sports Eyewear makes all of my glasses for casualwear, reading, cycling, golf and more. Hundreds of models from all the major manufacturers."


Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner