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Roger Eston

The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is a recognized marker of intensity and of homeostatic disturbance during exercise. It is typically monitored during exercise tests to complement other measures of intensity. The purpose of this commentary is to highlight the remarkable value of RPE as a psychophysiological integrator in adults. It can be used in such diverse fashions as to predict exercise capacity, assess changes in training status, and explain changes in pace and pacing strategy. In addition to using RPE to self-regulate exercise, a novel application of the intensity:RPE relationship is to clamp RPE at various levels to produce self-paced bouts of exercise, which can be used to assess maximal functional capacity. Research also shows that the rate of increase in RPE during self-paced competitive events of varying distance, or constant-load tasks where the participant exercises until volitional exhaustion, is proportional to the duration that remains. These findings suggest that the brain regulates RPE and performance in an anticipatory manner based on awareness of metabolic reserves at the start of an event and certainty of the anticipated end point. Changes in pace may be explained by a continuous internal negotiation of momentary RPE compared with a preplanned “ideal rate of RPE progression” template, which takes into account the portion of distance covered and the anticipated end point. These observations have led to the development of new techniques to analyze the complex relationship of RPE and pacing. The use of techniques to assess frontal-cortex activity will lead to further advances in understanding.

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Viswanath B. Unnithan and Roger G. Eston

Previous studies have consistently shown that the body mass/relative oxygen cost of submaximal treadmill running is greater in children than in young adults. It has been suggested that the obligatory increased stride frequency in children might be at least partly responsible. This hypothesis was investigated by examining the association between stride frequency and oxygen demand characteristics in 10 aerobically fit prepubescent boys (ages 9-10 yrs) and 10 fit young men (ages 18-25 yrs) while running at fixed submaximal speeds on an electronically driven treadmill. The oxygen demand was higher at all running speeds in the boys’ group. To compensate for a shorter stride length, the boys demonstrated higher stride frequency at all speeds. To determine if the inferior running economy in the boys was partly due to the greater stride frequency, the relative oxygen demand per stride was compared between groups at all speeds. This value was similar in both groups. It is concluded that the apparently greater oxygen demand of running in boys may be due in part to the greater stride frequency required to maintain similar running speeds.

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Samuel Chalmers, Adrian Esterman, Roger Eston and Kevin Norton


Athletes often seek the minimum required time that might elicit a physiological or performance change. It is reasonable to suggest that heat training may improve aerobic-based performance in mild conditions. Therefore, rather than providing a traditional heat-exposure stimulus (ie, 7–10 × 60–100 min sessions), the current article details 2 studies that aimed to determine the effect of brief (≤240 min exposure) heat training on the second lactate threshold (LT2) in mild conditions.


Forty-one participants completed 5 (study 1, n = 18) or 4 (study 2, n = 23) perceptually regulated treadmill exercise training sessions in 35°C and 30% relative humidity (RH) (experimental group) or 19°C and 30% RH (control group). Preincremental and postincremental exercise testing occurred in mild conditions (19°C and 30% RH). Linear mixed-effects models analyzed the change in LT2.


Heat training did not substantially change LT2 in either study 1 (+1.2%, d = 0.38, P = .248) or study 2 (+1.9%, d = 0.42, P = .163). LT2 was not substantially changed in the control group in study 1 (+1.3%, d = 0.43, P = .193), but a within-group change was evident in study 2 (+2.3%, d = 1.04, P = .001).


Brief heat training was inadequate to improve the speed at LT2 in mild conditions more than comparable training in mild conditions. The brief nature of the heattraining protocol did not allow adaptations to develop to the extent required to potentially confer a performance advantage in an environment that is less thermally stressful than the training conditions.

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Stuart R. Graham, Stuart Cormack, Gaynor Parfitt and Roger Eston

Purpose: To assess and compare the validity of internal and external Australian football (AF) training-load measures for predicting preseason variation of match-play exercise intensity (MEI sim/min) using a variable dose–response model. Methods: A total of 21 professional male AF players completed an 18-wk preseason macrocycle. Preseason internal training load was quntified using the session rating-of-perceived-exertion method (sRPE) and external load from satellite (as distance [Dist] and high-speed distance [HS Dist]) and accelerometer (Player Load [PL]) data. Using a training-impulse (TRIMPs) calculation, external load expressed in arbitrary units was represented as TRIMPsDist, TRIMPsHSDist, and TRIMPsPL. Preseason training load and MEI sim/min data were applied to a variable dose–response model, which provided estimates of MEI sim/min. Model estimates of MEI sim/min were correlated with actual measures from each match-play drill performed during the preseason macrocycle. Magnitude-based inferences (effect size [90% confidence interval]) were calculated to determine practical differences in the precision of MEI sim/min estimates using each of the internal- and external-load inputs. Results: Estimates of MEI sim/min demonstrated very large and large associations with actual MEI sim/min with models constructed from external and internal training inputs (r [90% confidence interval]; TRIMPsDist .73 [.72–.74], TRIMPsPL .72 [.71–.73], and sRPESkills .67 [.56–.78]). There were trivial differences in the precision of MEI sim/min estimates between models constructed from TRIMPsDist and TRIMPsPL and between internal input methods. Conclusions: Variable dose-response models from multiple training-load inputs can predict the within-individual variation of MEI sim/min across an entire preseason macrocycle. Models informed by external training inputs (TRIMPsDist and TRIMPsPL) exhibited predictive power comparable to those of sRPESkills models.

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Stuart R. Graham, Stuart Cormack, Gaynor Parfitt and Roger Eston

Purpose: To assess and compare the validity of internal and external Australian football (AF) training-load measures for predicting match exercise intensity (MEI/min) and player-rank score (PRScore) using a variable dose-response model. Methods: A cohort of 25 professional AF players (23 ± 3 y, 188.3 ± 7.2 cm, 87.7 ± 8.4 kg) completed a 24-wk in-season macrocycle. In-season internal training and match load were quantified using session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) and external load from satellite and accelerometer data. Using a training-impulse (TRIMP) calculation, external load (au) was represented as distance (TRIMPDist), distance ≥4.16 m/s (TRIMPHSDist), and PlayerLoad (TRIMPPL). In-season training load, MEI/min, and PRScore were applied to a variable dose-response model, which provided estimates of MEI/min and PRScore. Predicted MEI/min and PRScore were correlated with actual measures from each match. The magnitude of the difference between MEI/min and PRScore estimates for each model input and the difference between the precision of internal and external load measures to predict MEI/min and PRScore were calculated using the effect size ± 90% confidence interval (CI). Results: Estimates of MEI/min demonstrated very large associations with actual MEI/min (r, 90% CI) (eg, TRIMPDist .76 ± .13, and sRPESkills .73 ± .14). Estimates of PRScore demonstrated associations of large magnitude with actual PRScore using the same inputs. Precision of actual MEI/min was lowest using sRPE compared with (ES ± 90% CI) TRIMPDist, −.67 ± .34, and TRIMPPL, −.91 ± .39. There were trivial and unclear differences in the precision of PRScore estimates between TRIMP and sRPE inputs. Conclusions: Dose-response models from multiple training-load inputs can predict within-individual variation of MEI/min and PRScore. Internal and external training-input methods exhibited comparable predictive power.

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Ashleigh E. Smith, Roger G. Eston, Belinda Norton and Gaynor Parfitt

Peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) is reliably predicted in young and middle-aged adults using a submaximal perceptually-regulated exercise test (PRET). It is unknown whether older adults can use a PRET to accurately predict V̇O2peak. In this study, the validity of a treadmill-based PRET to predict V̇O2peak was assessed in 24 participants (65.2 ± 3.9 years, 11 males). The PRET required a change in speed or incline corresponding to ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) 9, 11, 13, and 15. Extrapolation of submaximal V̇O2 from the PRET to RPE endpoints 19 and 20 and age-predicted HRmax were compared with measured V̇O2peak. The V̇O2 extrapolated to both RPE19 and 20 over-predicted V̇O2peak (p < .001). However, extrapolating V̇O2 to age-predicted HRmax accurately predicted V̇O2peak (r = .84). Results indicate older adults can use a PRET to predict V̇O2peak by extrapolating V̇O2 from submaximal intensities to an age-predicted HRmax.

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Danielle M. Lambrick, Ann V. Rowlands and Roger G. Eston

This study assessed the nature of the perceived exertion response to treadmill running in 14 healthy 7–8 year-old children, using the Eston-Parfitt (E-P) Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale and a marble dropping task. For the E-P scale and the marble dropping task, the relationships between the RPE and work rate were best described as linear (R 2 = .96) and curvilinear (R 2 = .94), respectively. This study further suggests that individual respiratory-metabolic cues (oxygen uptake: O2, heart rate: HR, ventilation: V̇E) may significantly influence the overall RPE to varying degrees in young children. The E-P scale provides an intuitively meaningful and valid means of quantifying the overall perception of exertion in young, healthy children during treadmill running. The marble dropping task is a useful secondary measure of perceived exertion, which provides further insight into the nature of the perceived exertion response to exercise in young children.

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Roger G. Eston, Gaynor Parfitt, Laura Campbell and Kevin L. Lamb

The purpose of this study was to assess whether young children could reliability regulate exercise intensity production after several practice trials, without reference to objective feedback measures. The study used a new 10-point scale (Cart and Load Effort Rating [CALER] Scale), which depicts a child on a bicycle, at various stages of exertion, towing a cart in which the load increases progressively. After warm-up, 20 children, aged 7–10 years, performed an intermittent, effort production protocol at CALER 2, 5, and 8 on a cycle ergometer. This was repeated on three further occasions in the next 4 weeks. An increase in PO across trials (44, 65, and 79 W at CALER 2, 5, and 8, respectively) confirmed that the children understood the scale. A Bland and Altman limits of agreement (LoA) analysis and an intraclass correlation analysis (ICC) between trials (T) indicated that reliability improved with practice. Intertrial comparisons of overall reliability from T1 to T2 and from T3 to T4 ranged from 0.76 to 0.97 and an improvement in the overall bias ± 95% limits of agreement from −12 ± 19 W to 0 ± 10 W. This study is the first to apply more than two repeated effort production trials in young children and provides strong evidence that practice improves the reliability of effort perception in children. The data also provide preliminary evidence for the validity of the CALER Scale in children aged 7–10 years.

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Danielle Lambrick, Alex Rowlands, Thomas Rowland and Roger Eston

Prior experience of fatiguing tasks is considered essential to establishing an optimal pacing strategy. This study examined the pacing behavior of inexperienced children during self-paced, 800 m running, both individually and within a competitive environment. Thirteen children (aged 9−11 y) completed a graded-exercise test to volitional exhaustion on a treadmill (laboratory trial), followed by three self-paced, individual 800 m time-trials (Trials 1−3) and one self-paced, competitive 800 m time-trial (Trial 4) on an outdoor athletics track. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate (HR) were measured throughout all trials. Overall performance time improved from Trial 1−3 (250.1 ± 50.4 s & 242.4 ± 51.5 s, respectively, p < .017). The difference in overall performance time between Trials 3 and 4 (260.5 ± 54.2 s) was approaching significance (p = .06). The pacing strategy employed from the outset was consistent across all trials. These findings dispute the notion that an optimal pacing strategy is learned with exercise experience or training.