Rate of Perceived Exertion Scales: A Useful Tool for Controlling Resistance Training Load and Intensity

Escala RPE

(Naclerio et al., 2015). The most used approach consists of linking the magnitude of muscular effort to a numeric RPE value in order to express the subjective level of effort experienced during the exercise (Pageaux, 2016). Few studies have analysed the perception of effort from the beginning to the end of a set collecting the RPE values for each singular repetition until the failure (Naclerio et al., 2011, Chapman et al., 2017) or after performing a predetermined number of repetitions (Lins-Filho et al., 2012). Lagally et al. (2009) tested the application of OMNI-RES Scale (0-10) to select the initial training load for improving muscle endurance (RPE~3), muscle hypertrophy (RPE~6), and muscle strength (RPE~9). Additionally RPE scales have been shown to be an effective method to estimate the global impact of the training session when measured at 15 to 30 minutes post-workout (Naclerio et al., 2015). More recently, Helms et al. (2017) used the Resistance Training-Specific RPE Scale Measuring Repetitions in Reserve (RIR) (Zourdos et al., 2016) to compare the average concentric velocity (ACV) and the RPE based on RIR in competitive power-lifters. Maximal strength (1RM) assessments were conducted according to the rules of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). The ACV and RPE were recorded on all the three powerlifts at ≥80% of predicted 1RM. RPE at 1RM on the squat, bench press and deadlift was 9.6 ± 0.5, 9.7 ± 0.4 and 9.6 ± 0.5, respectively and were not significantly different (p > 0.05) between them. The ACV at 1RM on the squat, bench press and deadlift was 0.23 ± 0.05, 0.10 ± 0.04 and 0.14 ± 0.05 m·s-1, respectively. The squat was faster than both the bench press and deadlift (p <0.001) and the deadlift was faster than the bench press (p = 0.05). Very strong relationships (r = 0.88 to 0.91) between percentage of 1RM and RPE were observed on each lift. ACV showed strong (r= -0.79 to -0.87) and very strong (r= -0.90-92) inverse relationships with RPE and the relative load (%1RM) on each lift, respectively. Authors concluded that the RPE maybe a useful tool for prescribing intensity for the three analyzed exercises, in addition to traditional methods such as %1RM. Despite the observed high correlations between the %1RM and ACV, a “velocity load profile” should be developed to prescribe intensity on an individual basis with appropriate accuracy. It is important to highlight that the aforementioned study used trained powerlifters and therefore cautions should be taken when working with less trained athletes possess a diminished ability to recruit high threshold motor unit and consequently would achieve lower 1RM values with a higher ACV. In addition less trained individuals will also need a longer period of adaptation to get properly familiarized with the RPE scale (Zourdos et al., 2016).

Although the RIR seems to be a suitable method for controlling resistance training zones, others scales (OMNI-RES 0-10) and criteria for selecting the load (initial RPE) and estimated movement velocity variation over the set (RPE for each individual repetition) would be useful to avoid undesired drop in velocity when training for power (Chapman et al., 2017, Naclerio et al., 2015).


Recommended reading

CHAPMAN, M., LARUMBE-ZABALA, E., GOSS-SAMPSON, M., COLPUS, M., TRIPLETT, N. T. & NACLERIO, F. 2017. Perceptual, Mechanical And Electromyographic Responses To Different Relative Loads In The Parallel Squat. J Strength Cond Res.

HELMS, E. R., STOREY, A., CROSS, M. R., BROWN, S. R., LENETSKY, S., RAMSAY, H., DILLEN, C. & ZOURDOS, M. C. 2017. RPE and Velocity Relationships for the Back Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift in Powerlifters. J Strength Cond Res, 31, 292-297.

LAGALLY, K. M., AMOROSE, A. J. & ROCK, B. 2009. Selection of resistance exercise intensity using ratings of perceived exertion from the OMNI-RES. Percept Mot Skills, 108, 573-86.

LINS-FILHO, O. D. L., ROBERTSON, R. J., FARAH, B. Q., RODRIGUES, S. L. C., CYRINO, E. S. & RITTI-DIAS, R. M. 2012. Effects of exercise intensity on rating of perceived exertion during a multiple-set resistance exercise session. J Strength Cond Res 26, 466–472.

NACLERIO, F., CHAPMAN, M. & LARUMBE-ZABALA, E. 2015. Use of the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scales in Resistance Training: A Comment on Mayo, Iglesias-Soler, and Fernandez-Del-Olmo ( 2014 ). Percept Mot Skills, 121, 490-3.

NACLERIO, F., RODRÍGUEZ-ROMO, G., BARRIOPEDRO-MORO, M. I., JIMENEZ, A., ALAVAR, B. & TRIPLETT, N. T. 2011. Control of resistance training intensiy by the omni perceived exertion scale. J. Strength Cond. Res, 25, 1879–1888.

PAGEAUX, B. 2016. Perception of effort in Exercise Science: Definition, measurement and perspectives. Eur J Sport Sci, 1-10.

ZOURDOS, M. C., KLEMP, A., DOLAN, C., QUILES, J. M., SCHAU, K. A., JO, E., HELMS, E., ESGRO, B., DUNCAN, S., GARCIA MERINO, S. & BLANCO, R. 2016. Novel Resistance Training-Specific Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale Measuring Repetitions in Reserve. J Strength Cond Res, 30, 267-75.




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