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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Nov;24(11):1303-7.

Accuracy of RPE from graded exercise to establish exercise training intensity.

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  • 1Department of Physical Education, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale 62901.


The purpose of this investigation was to examine the accuracy of an exercise intensity prescription based upon perceptual responses obtained during a graded exercise test. Fifteen physically active men completed a graded exercise test (GXT) on a motor driven treadmill. Heart rate (HR), oxygen uptake (VO2), and RPE were measured each minute. An RPE intensity prescription was calculated as 75% of heart rate reserve from the GXT heart rate and RPE data. A minimum of 48 h later the subjects completed 10 min of exercise (EXT) on a level treadmill at the prescribed RPE. The subjects set the treadmill speed to elicit an exercise intensity equal to the prescribed perception of effort. There were significant mean differences (P < 0.05) in heart rate between the GXT (161.8 +/- 1.3) and EXT (154.9 +/- 4.5). However, by minute 6 the subjects were within four beats.min-1 of the target heart rate. There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) between GXT and EXT for VO2 (36.1 +/- 5.2, 33.1 +/- 6.4) and VE (64.1 +/- 10.8, 58.4 +/- 13.5) respectively. The present investigation demonstrates that a subject's perceptual response to a GXT can be used to accurately prescribe exercise intensity during level treadmill running. The intensity selected was within a typical range used for exercise prescription. The advantage of RPE as a method of exercise prescription is that an individual does not need to stop during exercise and measure a heart rate, but can make pace adjustments while exercising based solely upon the perception of effort.

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