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J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Feb;21(1):183-7.

Perceived exertion and training load during self-selected and imposed-intensity resistance exercise in untrained women.

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Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


The purpose of the present study was to examine differences in ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and the weight lifted (training load) during self-selected and imposed-intensity bouts of acute resistance exercise (RE). Nineteen untrained college-aged women completed 2 bouts of acute resistance exercise. During 1 session, 3 sets of 4 exercises were performed using a training load of 75% of 1 repetition maximum. Conversely, during the other session, each set and exercise were completed using a self-selected training load. Assessments of RPE and training load were obtained following each set during both imposed-intensity and self-selected-intensity sessions. Results of 2 (intensity) x 3 (set) repeated measures multivariate analyses of variance revealed that, when compared to self-selected RE, RPE and resistance used were significantly higher and the number of repetitions completed per set was significantly lower during imposed-intensity RE. These findings demonstrate that the training load and perceptions of effort elicited during conventional RE prescriptions differ from the level of exertion untrained women self-select. Additionally, it appears that untrained women may not self-select a relative intensity sufficient to stimulate meaningful improvements in muscular hypertrophy or strength. The implications of these findings for the adoption and maintenance of resistance exercise participation are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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