Accuracy and Concurrent Validity of a 5-point Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale for Selecting and Managing Moderate Level Resistance Training Intensity Original Research

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Charlie McMillin, PhD, MSc, MS
Dr. Bridget Melton, CSCS*D, TSAC-F*D, EP-C
Nicholas Murray, PhD, CIC
Dr. Chris D'Adamo


Functional limitations, resistance training machines, 50% 1-RM


Introduction: This investigation examined the prediction accuracy and concurrent validity of the Perceived Effort Continuum (PEC) RPE scale for use with two upper body resistance training machines.  

Methods:  Twenty resistance trained participants (M = 14; F = 6) performed one exercise each on the seated row (SR) and chest press (CP) machines to obtain RPE estimation data and surface electromyographic recordings (sEMG). Each exercise was initiated with the lightest possible weight selections (WS) and terminated when the incrementally increased WS elicited a participant report of RPE 5.

Results: Strong positive relationships existed between RPE and sEMG for the SR (r = .658, p < .001), RPE and sEMG for the CP (r = .615, p < .001), RPE and WS for the SR (r = .880, p < .001), and RPE and WS for the CP (r = .779, p <.001). The mean WS for RPE levels 1-4 were 12%, 27%, 50%, and 80% and 17%, 31%, 51%, and 80% when normalized to a percentage of the WS of RPE 5 for the CP and SR respectively.

Conclusions: The PEC scale is a valid method of assessing perceived exertion during RT performed on a CP and SR and can be used to estimate a moderate level of intensity without subjecting the participant to inadvisable direct maximal testing.

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