Is RPE a Valid Measure?

Expensive monitoring systems are all the rage in today’s sporting world. While they can make data collection less tedious and more readily available, you may have to sift through a bunch of data you don’t want to get to the one or two pieces of valuable information.

If you don’t have access to these monitoring systems, session rate of perceived exertion (sRPE) can be a nice subjective marker to use to asses training load. While monitoring systems have the ability to objectively assess training load, the athlete is able to give you a subjective rating relative to his or her capacity. The simple question of “How hard was training?” immediately after a session can be of benefit if you’re trying to periodize training or making sure athletes aren’t in an overreaching or overtrained state for an extended period of time.

There is a lot of research in various sports that state the validity of  sRPE as a way to assess training load. Here are two research abstracts that specifically delve into the validity of sRPE in soccer.
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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Jun;36(6):1042-7.

Use of RPE-based training load in soccer.

Impellizzeri FM, Rampinini E, Coutts AJ, Sassi A, Marcora SM.

Source

Human Performance Lab, S.S. MAPEI, Castellanza, Varese, Italy.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The ability to accurately control and monitor internal training load is an important aspect of effective coaching. The aim of this study was to apply in soccer the RPE-based method proposed by Foster et al. to quantify internal training load (session-RPE) and to assess its correlations with various methods used to determine internal training load based on the HR response to exercise.

METHODS:

Nineteen young soccer players (mean +/- SD: age 17.6 +/- 0.7 yr, weight 70.2 +/- 4.7 kg, height 178.5 +/- 4.8 cm, body fat 7.5 +/- 2.2%, VO2max, 57.1 +/- 4.0 mL x kg x min) were involved in the study. All subjects performed an incremental treadmill test before and after the training period during which lactate threshold (1.5 mmol x L above baseline) and OBLA (4.0 mmol x L) were determined. The training loads completed during the seven training weeks were determined multiplying the session RPE (CR10-scale) by session duration in minutes. These session-RPE values were correlated with training load measures obtained from three different HR-based methods suggested by Edwards, Banister, and Lucia, respectively.

RESULTS:

Individual internal loads of 479 training sessions were collected. All individual correlations between various HR-based training load and session-RPE were statistically significant (from r = 0.50 to r = 0.85, P < 0.01).

CONCLUSION:

The results of this study show that the session-RPE can be considered a good indicator of global internal load of soccertraining. This method does not require particular expensive equipment and can be very useful and practical for coaches and athletic trainer to monitor and control internal load, and to design periodization strategies.

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Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2008 Sep;3(3):320-30.

A comparison of methods used for quantifying internal training load in women soccer players.

Alexiou H, Coutts AJ.

Source

School of Leisure, Sport, and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this study was to compare the session-RPE method for quantifying internal training load (TL) with various HR-based TL quantification methods in a variety of training modes with women soccer players.

METHODS:

Fifteen elite women soccer players took part in the study (age: 19.3 +/- 2.0 y and VO2max: 50.8 +/- 2.7 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)).Session-RPE, heart rate, and duration were recorded for 735 individual training sessions and matches over a period of 16 wk. Correlation analysis was used to compare session-RPE TLs with three commonly used HR-based methods for assessing TL.

RESULTS:

The mean correlation for session-RPE TL with Banister’s TRIMP, LTzone TL and Edwards’s TL were (r = 0.84, 0.83, and 0.85, all P < .01, respectively). Correlations for session-RPE TL and three HR-based methods separated by session type were all significant (all P < .05). The strongest correlations were reported for technical (r = 0.68 to 0.82), conditioning (r = 0.60 to 0.79), and speed sessions (r = 0.61 to 0.79).

CONCLUSION:

The session-RPE TL showed a significant correlation with all training types common to soccer. Higher correlations were found with less intermittent, aerobic-based training sessions and suggest that HR-based TLs relate better to session-RPE TLs in less intermittent training activities. These results support previous findings showing that the session-RPE TL compares favorably with HR-based methods for quantifying internal TL in a variety of soccer training activities.