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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 May;34(5):862-8.

Perceived exertion responses to novel elbow flexor eccentric action in women and men.

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Department of Exercise Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.



The primary aim was to describe perceived exertion responses to different intensities of eccentric exercise in women and men.


42 adults (21 men and 21 women, 7 per condition) completed elbow extension exercises with a weight corresponding to 80%, 100%, or 120% of maximal voluntary concentric strength. Total work was equated by manipulating the number of repetitions in the 80% (N = 45), 100% (N = 36), and 120% (N = 30) conditions.


A two-way ANOVA showed significant main effects for the intensity and sex factors. Perceived exertion ratings were strongly dependent on exercise intensity, and women reported lower RPEs than men. A separate three-way mixed model ANOVA that included a repetition factor showed that perceived exertion ratings increased similarly across the first 30 repetitions in all exercise conditions. Significant partial correlations were found between mean RPE during the eccentric exercise bout, and the mean intensity of delayed-onset muscle pain measured from 12- to 72-h postexercise after controlling for the relative exercise intensity (r12.3 = 0.28) or the maximum concentric strength of the elbow flexors (r12.3 = 0.33).


1) for both women and men, there is a positive association between the intensity of eccentric exercise performed with the elbow flexors and RPE; 2) perceived exertion ratings increase significantly then plateau when repeated eccentric muscle actions are performed at constant, submaximal absolute intensities; 3) women rate eccentric exercise performed at the same intensity (relativized to MVC-C) as being less effortful compared with men; and 4) RPE during eccentric exercise can account for a small but significant amount of variability in delayed-onset muscle pain after statistically controlling for differences in strength or relative intensity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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