Rating of Perceived Exertion
Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is an extremely well-known and popular way to monitor an athlete’s exertion after performing work (Foster 1998). Traditionally, a 10-point scoring scale is used where athletes give their exertion a numerical value, with 10 being the highest exertion for a given session (Wing, 2018). This approach can be taken one step further by multiplying the Session RPE (sRPE) score by the session time, to produce a Training Load score measured in arbitrary units (AU) (Foster, 1998). For example, if an athlete rates a session as an 8 and the length of the session was 60 minutes, Training Load would be 480 AU (8 x 60 = 480).
Although sRPE is easily obtained, there are several considerations we should keep in mind; Collecting sRPE directly after the session can produce inaccurate scoring, ultimately, this is a subjective form of monitoring internal load. Research suggests that collecting sRPE approximately 30 minutes after a session allows athletes time to reflect more accurately on the session and provide a more reliable score (Foster 1998). It is recommended that athletes are given a trial period to become more experienced at judging RPE and their own exertion levels ensure data collected is reliable (Foster 1998).
Another consideration is that sRPE fails to differentiate between where athletes felt this exertion occured. For example, the exertion in a technically difficult speed session with a high neuromuscular demand will have a vastly exertion to an extensive and fatiguing endurance session, even if both were scored as an 8 sRPE. A potential solution to this problem is taking RPE scores for different parameters, known as differential RPE (dRPE) (McLaren et al. 2016). For example, in addition to sRPE, ratings for lower body exertion and upper body exertion, breathlessness and cognitive difficulty could help provide a more specific and accurate evaluation of intensity, aiding sport team personnel to make better and more informed programming decisions (McLaren et al. 2016).