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Rating of Perceived Exertion for Quantification of Training and Combat Loads During Combat Sport-Specific Activities

A Short Review

Slimani, Maamer1; Davis, Philip2; Franchini, Emerson3; Moalla, Wassim4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: October 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 10 - p 2889–2902
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002047
Brief Review

Slimani, M, Davis, P, Franchini, E, and Moalla, W. Rating of perceived exertion for quantification of training and combat loads during combat sport-specific activities: a short review. J Strength Cond Res 31(10): 2889–2902, 2017—The aim of this short review was to summarize data pertaining to the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) methods (RPE value and session-RPE) during combat sport-specific activities (i.e., competition and training) based on many factors, including contest type (i.e., official vs. simulated vs. training), combat rounds, age of participants and muscle groups, and their correlation with physiological variables (i.e., blood lactate concentration [La] and heart rate [HR]). The current review shows higher RPE in a match of mixed martial arts (MMAs) than Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing matches and during the competitive period compared with the precompetitive period. This could be explained by the longer duration of bouts, the higher percentage contribution of aerobic metabolism in MMA than other combat sports and contest type differences (simulated vs. official matches). Thus, this review found significant correlations between RPE or session-RPE, [La] and HR. Particularly, there was a stronger correlation between RPE and [La] during official striking (r = 0.81) than grappling combat sports matches (r = 0.53). In addition, a variation of correlation (moderate to large) between session-RPE and HR-based methods has been reported (i.e., Edwards' training load [r ranged between 0.58 and 0.95] and Banister training impulse [r ranged between 0.52 and 0.86]). Specifically, stronger correlation was apparent in combat sport competition that required a much higher percentage contribution of aerobic metabolism (e.g., karate) and in adult athletes than anaerobic-based combat sports (e.g., taekwondo) and young athletes, respectively. Indeed, the current review highlights that the correlations between session-RPE and HR-based methods were higher during official competition than training sessions. Session-RPE was affected by participants' competitive level, the intensity of session (high vs. low), the training modalities (tactical-technical vs. technical-development vs. simulated competition), and the training volume in combat sports athletes. Rating of perceived exertion is a valid tool for quantifying internal training and combat loads during short- and long-term training and simulated and official competitions in novice and elite combat sport athletes. Furthermore, both RPE methods may be a more reliable measure of intensity or effort when both anaerobic and aerobic systems are appreciably activated. Coaches, sports scientists, and athletes can use session-RPE method to quantify short-term training and combat loads in adult athletes during precompetitive period much more than long-term training and in young athletes during the competitive period. They can also use RPE to monitor combat and short- and long-term training loads to better plan and assist training programs and competitions.

1Research Laboratory “Sport Performance Optimization”, National Center of Medicine and Science in Sport (CNMSS), El Menzah, Tunisia;

2Combat Sports Performance, Braintree, Essex, United Kingdom;

3Martial Arts and Combat Sports Research Group, School of Physical Education and Sport, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; and

4UR15JS01 EM2S: Education, Motricity, Sport and Health, High Institute of Sport and Physical Education, University of Sfax, Sfax, Tunisia

Address correspondence to Maamer Slimani,

*The last two authors contributed equally.

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.