Fitness, Science

UOIT Ridgeback’s Women’s Soccer Fitness Coach Tip of the Day – Day 28 – Heart Rate vs. RPE

The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team.  This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.

Today’s Tip of the Day is a continuation of 2 previous blogs that discussed monitoring of game performance.  Previously, I had discussed the use of Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and heart rate monitors, to measure and quantify the intensity of training and games.  Today I will be discussing how to use the two different measures of intensity together.  When players report their RPE, they are answering the question “how was your workout” based on a 0-10 scale of intensity (0 being the lowest score, and 10 being the highest score).  Typically, players who are fitter will report lower RPE’s for the same relative workload than players who are less fit.

Heart rate monitors provide the most accurate measure of how hard a player has worked during a training session or game.  When considering the example given above, using heart rate monitors can ensure that the relative workload (expressed as percentage of a player’s maximum heart rate) is the same during specific training sessions, and they can also be used to check to see what the workload was during games.  As a general rule, players who have improved their fitness will report a lower RPE for a workout (training or game) at any given percentage of their maximum heart rate than they did with the same workout/workload prior to the improvement in fitness.

I have seen first hand how several players I have worked with have gradually been able to handle a higher training intensity (measured using heart rate monitors) and still report the same and/or lower RPE’s in their perceived measure of intensity.  Fitness coaches working with elite level soccer players should consider the use of use both RPE and heart rate monitors, if possible, for the most accurate measurements of intensity of training sessions and games.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

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