Forty women took part in a study designed to investigate self-selected exercise intensity relative to ventilatory threshold during circuit weight training (CWT) and exercise-to-music (ETM) sessions. Subjects were assigned to one of two groups which were beginners (B) or habitual exercisers (HE) on the basis of their exercise habits. All subjects first underwent a laboratory cycle ergometer test involving a continuous incremental exercise protocol from which ventilatory threshold (VT) was determined using piecewise linear regression analysis. This point was expressed in terms of heart rate (VTHR) and rating of perceived exertion (VTRPE). These points were then compared with those determined during exercise training sessions (TRAHR and TRARPE respectively). The results showed that mean(s.d.) TRARPE (13.5(1.1) was not significantly different to mean(s.d.) VTRPE (12.8(0.5); P > 0.05) but that mean(s.d.) VTHR (134.8(13.5) beats min-1) and TRAHR (154.9(12.0) beats min-1) were different (P < 0.05). Beginners trained at a significantly higher percentage above VTHR than habitual exercisers (118(3.1) versus 111(2.8)% P < 0.05). During CWT the mean(s.d.) TRAHR for beginners (143.2(7.6) beats min-1) was significantly lower than that for habitual exercisers (152.5(10.1) beats min-1; P < 0.05), but not different during ETM (P < 0.05). When these TRAHR values were expressed relative to an estimated maximum heart rate (EMHR) they represented 86.5% in ETM and 80.5% in CWT which were different (P < 0.05). These results suggest that regardless of habitual exercise level and training mode, these women selected a common intensity of effort that was compatible with the described RPE.
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