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Regulating Explosive Resistance Training Intensity Using the Rating of Perceived Exertion

Row, Brandi S1; Knutzen, Kathleen M2; Skogsberg, Nikolaus J3

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - pp 664-671
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31822ac367

Row, BS, Knutzen, KM, and Skogsberg, NJ. Regulating explosive resistance training intensity using the rating of perceived exertion. J Strength Cond Res 26(3): 664–671, 2012—Explosive resistance training (ERT) improves older adults' strength and power, and methods to make this form of training more accessible and useful to older adults are needed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale would predict a broad range of ERT intensities on the leg press with older adults. If successful, then a load-RPE relationship could be used to regulate the intensity of training loads for ERT with older adults, allowing the elimination of maximal strength testing. Twenty-one older adults (≥65 years) with resistance training experience took part in 2 testing sessions. Session 1: Subjects performed high-velocity repetitions on the leg press for up to 9 loads (from 60 to 140% body weight) presented in quasi-randomized order, and then reported their RPE for each load. Session 2: A 1 repetition maximum (1RM) strength test was conducted. Regression analysis revealed that the average RPE across subjects for each load strongly predicted the average %1RM across subjects (R2 = 99.5%; p < 0.001). This allows the establishment of a load-RPE relationship for use in selecting ERT loads for older adults on the leg press. For example, high-intensity loads (70–90% 1RM) that would elicit both strength and power gains when used with ERT aligned with an RPE of 14–16. Lighter loads that may be useful for training for power, but not strength (<70% 1RM), were identified with RPE scores of 13 and lower. The load-RPE relationship may simplify the regulation of intensity of ERT with older adults on the leg press, where the exercising older adult could be guided to select loads according to their RPE.

1Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington; 2California State University-Bakersfield, Bakersfield, California; and 3Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Address correspondence to Brandi S. Row,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association