Prescribing Intensity in Resistance Training Using Rating of Perceived Effort: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Yael Boxman-Zeevi, Hadar Schwartz, Itai Har-Nir, Nadia Bordo, Israel Halperin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Rating of perceived effort (RPE) scales are used to prescribe intensity in resistance training (RT) in several ways. For instance, trainees can reach a specific RPE value by modifying the number of repetitions, lifted loads, or other training variables. Given the multiple approaches of prescribing intensity using RPE and its growing popularity, we compared the effects of two RPE prescription approaches on adherence rates, body composition, performance and psychological outcomes, in an online RT intervention. Methods: We randomly assigned 57 healthy participants without RT experience (60% females, age range: 18–45) to one of two groups that received two weekly RT sessions using a resistance-band for 8 weeks. In the fixed-repetition group, participants adjusted the band resistance with the goal of completing 10 repetitions and reaching a 7-RPE on a 0–10 scale by the 10th repetition. In the open-repetition group, participants selected their preferred band resistance and completed repetitions until reaching a 7-RPE by the final repetition. We measured body composition, performance, and program satisfaction rates. Results: We assessed 46 participants at post-test, 24 from the fixed-repetition group and 22 from the open-repetition group. We observed non-significant and trivial differences between groups in all outcomes (p > 0.05). We then combined the pre-post change scores of the two groups. We found that adherence rates began at 89% and gradually decreased to 42%. On average, participants increased their fat-free mass [0.3 kg (95% CI: 0.1–0.6)], isometric mid-thigh pull [5.5 kg (95% CI: 0.8–10.4)], isometric knee-extension [2.2 kg (95% CI: 0.8–3.7)], and push-ups [6.3 repetitions (95% CI: 4.5–8.2)]. We observed non-significant and trivial changes in bodyweight, grip-force, and countermovement jump. Participants reported high satisfaction rates with all components of the program. Conclusion: Participants in both groups improved their body composition and physical capacity to a similar extent, and reported comparable satisfaction rates with the programs they followed. Accordingly, either prescription approach can be used to deliver online RT sessions based on personal preferences and logistical constraints. However, since adherences rates declined over the course of the study, future research should test additional strategies aiming to maintain adherence rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number891385
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - 29 Apr 2022


FundersFunder number
Marguerite Stolz Research Fund
Israel Science Foundation1249/20
Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University


    • adherence
    • autonomy
    • effort-regulation
    • intensity-prescription
    • online exercise


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