Correlation of 1-repetition maximum and ratings of perceived exertion in adults

  • Susko A
  • Depaul S
  • Fitzgerald G
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Purpose:\r<br />The current gold standard for determining proper dosage of strength training for rehabilitation is the 1-repetition maximum (1RM). This method requires a patient to elicit a maximum force through the targeted muscle. For patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) maximum quadriceps contractions often provoke considerable pain; this pain response may mask the true strength of the muscle. Thus 1RM testing is not always a feasible or accurate method of testing strength or determining proper strength training dosage. A viable alternative to 1RM testing would be extremely clinically useful for rehabilitation specialists working with patients with OA. One potential alternative to 1RM testing is use of perceived exertion scales. Perceived exertion scales were first introduced for dosage of aerobic training but the utility of these scales has also been examined for dosage of resistance training. Previous studies have examined use of the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale to approximate 1RM in healthy young adults but results have not been confirmed in a general adult population or using a sample of participants who may have a history of OA or other painful joint pathology. In addition test-retest reliability of RPE for use in resistive exercise has not been determined. The purpose of this correlational study was (1) to examine the association between Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and percentage of 1RM while performing resisted knee extension and (2) to examine test-retest reliability of RPE in a general population of adults.\r<br />Methods:\r<br />Following determination of 1RM participants performed 1-3 repetitions of knee extension at ten equal increments of the determined 1RM (10%-100% of 1RM) in random order. Participants stated perceived exertion rating for each level of resistance. This protocol was repeated 5-10 days later to determine test-retest reliability. Spearman rho correlations were calculated to assess correlation between 1RM and RPE as well as test-retest reliability. Sensitivity specificity Youden’s index and likelihood ratios were calculated to determine optimal RPE cutoff values for use in dosage of resistive exercise.\r<br />Results:\r<br />14 female and 12 male participants completed the study (mean age 45.3 SD 18.4 range 21.0-81.4). 27% of participants self-reported knee OA and 19% reported a history of unilateral lower extremity surgery. A good-to-excellent correlation was found between 1RM and RPE (Spearman rho 0.787 p<.001; see…




Susko, A. M., Depaul, S., & Fitzgerald, G. (2014). Correlation of 1-repetition maximum and ratings of perceived exertion in adults. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 22, S436–S437.

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