The session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) has gained popularity as a “user friendly” method for evaluating internal training load. sRPE has historically been obtained 30 min after exercise. This study evaluated the effect of postexercise measurement time on sRPE after steady-state and interval cycle exercise.
Well-trained subjects (N = 15) (maximal oxygen consumption = 51 ± 4 and 36 ± 4 mL/kg [cycle ergometer] for men and women, respectively) completed counterbalanced 30-minute steady-state and interval training bouts. The steady-state ride was at 90% of ventilatory threshold. The work-to-rest ratio of the interval rides was 1:1, and the interval segment durations were 1, 2, and 3 min. The high-intensity component of each interval bout was 75% peak power output, which was accepted as a surrogate of the respiratory compensation threshold, critical power, or maximal lactate steady state. Heart rate, blood lactate, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured. The sRPE (category ratio scale) was measured at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 60 min and 24 h after each ride using a visual analog scale (VAS) to prevent bias associated with specific RPE verbal anchors.
sRPE at 30 min postexercise followed a similar trend: steady state = 3.7, 1 min = 3.9, 2 min = 4.7, 3 min = 6.2. No significant differences (P > .05) in sRPE were found based on postexercise sampling times, from 5 min to 24 h postexercise.
Postexercise time does not appear to have a significant effect on sRPE after either steady-state or interval exercise. Thus, sRPE appears to be temporally robust and is not necessarily limited to the 30-min-postexercise window historically used with this technique, although the presence or absence of a cooldown period after the exercise bout may be important.
The authors are with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI.