How can I gauge my intensity if I don’t have a heart rate monitor?

David Buer
If you don't have access to a heart rate monitor, you can gauge intensity by perceived exertion, or by checking your pulse during exercise. Watch me explain how to safely determine your heart rate without a monitor.
If you don’t have a heart rate monitor there are two ways that you can determine your intensity. The first is by using an easy scale of exertion, 1-10. By using 1-2 on the scale as rest and 10 as max effort, you can determine how hard you are working by estimating your effort throughout the workout. Generally, a 5-6 is a good recovery effort and 7 is a good endurance level. Depending on your fitness level, the higher intensity should feel more like an 8-9, which is a strong effort but one you can recover from during the workout and repeat that effort again. This is a good way to determine your effort as you slowly learn your training limitations. The more in tune you are with your body, the better this scale will work for you. Another way to determine intensity is using workload ( speed, incline, level, watts). The goal is to try to get back to the same intensity in each workout, or better, to improve and go to a higher workload. Using the same equipment or route outside will ensure that the workload is consistent. The problem with most fitness equipment is that they are not calibrated. This means that level 5 on one piece of equipment might not be the same as level 5 on the piece next to it. Using the same piece of equipment and reaching a new level will confirm that you are improving.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.