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Precision, Accuracy, and Performance Outcomes of Perceived Exertion vs. Heart Rate Guided Run-training

Johnson, Evan C.; Pryor, Riana R.; Casa, Douglas J.; Ellis, Lindsay A.; Maresh, Carl M.; Pescatello, Linda S.; Ganio, Matthew S.; Lee, Elaine C.; Armstrong, Lawrence E.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 3 - p 630–637
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001541
Original Research

Johnson, EC, Pryor, RR, Casa, DJ, Ellis, LA, Maresh, CM, Pescatello, LS, Ganio, MS, Lee, EC, and Armstrong, LE. Precision, accuracy, and performance outcomes of perceived exertion vs. heart rate guided run-training. J Strength Cond Res 31(3): 630–637, 2017—The purpose of this investigation was to compare run-prescription by heart rate (HR) vs. rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during 6 weeks to determine which is superior for consistent achievement of target intensities and improved performance. Forty untrained men participated in this laboratory-controlled and field-controlled trial. Participants were divided into heart rate (HRTG) and rating of perceived exertion training groups (RPETG). All underwent maximal-graded exercise testing and a 12-minute run test before and after training. Intensity was prescribed as either a target HR or RPE that corresponded to 4 relative intensity levels: 45, 60, 75, and 90% V[Combining Dot Above]O2 reserve (V[Combining Dot Above]O2R). Mean exercise intensity over the 6 weeks did not differ between HRTG (65.6 ± 7.2%HRR) and RPETG (61.9 ± 9.0%HRR). V[Combining Dot Above]O2max (+4.1 ± 2.5 ml·kg−1·min−1) and 12 minutes run distance (+240.1 ± 150.1 m) improved similarly in HRTG and RPETG (p > 0.05). HRTG displayed lower coefficients of variation (CV) (5.9 ± 4.1%, 3.3 ± 3.8%, and 3.0 ± 2.2%) and %error (4.1 ± 4.7%, 2.3 ± 4.1% and 2.6 ± 3.2%) at 45, 60, and 75% V[Combining Dot Above]O2R compared with RPETG (CV 11.1 ± 5.0%, 7.7 ± 4.1% and 5.6 ± 3.2%; all p < 0.005) %error (15.7 ± 9.2%, 10.6 ± 9.2% and 6.7 ± 3.2%; all p < 0.001), respectively. Overall, HR-prescribed and RPE-prescribed run-training resulted in similar exercise intensity and performance outcomes over 6 weeks. Differences in the CV and %error suggest use of HR monitoring for individuals that are new to running as it improves precision and accuracy but does not increase performance improvements across 6 weeks.

1Human Integrated Physiology Laboratory, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming;

2Human Performance Laboratory, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut;

3Department of Kinesiology, California State University Fresno, Fresno, California;

4School of Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia, Onkanagan, British Columbia;

5Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; and

6Human Performance Laboratory, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Address correspondence to Evan C. Johnson,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.