The effects of blood lactate concentration on perception of effort during exercise
Several studies have reported that rating of perceived exertion (RPE) covaries more with blood lactate concentration (BLC) than other measures of relative exercise intensity. If BLC is used as the intensity criterion, then RPE could be used as a valid tool for exercise prescription. However, few have shown the relationship between RPE and BLC across a variety of graded exercise tests (GXTs) and exercise training settings. The purpose of this study was to determine if differences exist in RPEs at matched BLC between two GXTs and steady state exercise in the field setting. Thirteen healthy males (25 ± 5.3 yrs) completed two maximal treadmill protocols (Bruce and Balke) and one steady state exercise trial on a treadmill at two intensities which lasted approximately 7 minutes each. The intensities (40% & 70% max heart rate reserve) were below and above their ventilatory threshold. RPEs were recorded during the last minute of each workload of the field trial (FT). Immediately following the end of each workload, blood samples were collected for BLC analysis. RPEs from the FT were compared with RPEs from the GXTs at matched BI-Cs using a repeated measures ANOVA across exercise trials. The results show that there were no significant differences in RPEs at a matched BLC of 1.5 mM between the FTand and the Bruce and Balke GXT at the lower intensity, with the RPEs being 9.6 ± 1.7, 9.8 ± 2.6, and 10.2 ± 2.4, respectively. However, at the higher intensity, RPEs at a matched BLC of 3.0 mM were significantly different, with the FT < Bruce < Balke (11.9 ± 1.9, 13.5 ± 2.2 and 15.2 ± 2.0, p < 0.05). These results suggest that the relationship between RPE and BLC established during a GXT may not be transferable to the exercise training setting at exercise intensities in the typical prescription range of 50-85%. Therefore, using RPE for exercise prescription may not be an effective method for regulating exercise intensity according to BLC.