European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 9, pp 2083–2094 | Cite as

Treadmill running using an RPE-clamp model: mediators of perception and implications for exercise prescription

  • Kristen C. Cochrane-SnymanEmail author
  • Terry J. Housh
  • Cory M. Smith
  • Ethan C. Hill
  • Nathaniel D. M. Jenkins
Original Article



The mediators of the perception of effort during exercise are still unclear. The aim of the present study was to examine physiological responses during runs using a rating of perceived exertion (RPE)-clamp model at the RPE corresponding to the gas exchange threshold (RPEGET) and 15% above GET (RPEGET+15%) to identify potential mediators and performance applications for RPE during treadmill running.


Twenty-one runners (\({\dot{V}\mathrm{O}}_{2}\)max = 51.7 ± 8.3 ml kg−1 min−1) performed a graded exercise test to determine maximal oxygen consumption and the RPE associated with GET and GET + 15% followed by randomized 60 min RPE-clamp runs at RPEGET and RPEGET+15%. Mean differences for \({\dot{V}\mathrm{O}}_{2}\), heart rate (HR), minute ventilation (\({\dot{V}}_{E}\)), respiratory frequency (\({\mathcal{F}}_{R})\), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and velocity were compared across each run.


After minute 14, \({\dot{V}\mathrm{O}}_{2}\), RER and velocity did not differ across conditions, but decreased across time (p < 0.05). There was a significant (p < 0.05) condition × time interaction for \({\dot{V}}_{E}\), where values were significantly higher during RPE-clamp runs at RPEGET+15% and decreased across time in both conditions. There were no differences across condition or time for HR, and only small difference between conditions for \({\mathcal{F}}_{R}\).


HR and \({\mathcal{F}}_{R}\) may play a role in mediating the perception of effort, while \({\dot{V}\mathrm{O}}_{2}\), RER, and \({\dot{V}}_{E}\) may not. Although HR and \({\mathcal{F}}_{R}\) may mediate the maintenance of a perceptual intensity, they may not be sensitive to differentiate perceptual intensities at GET and GET + 15%. Thus, prescribing exercise using an RPE-clamp model may only reflect a sustainable \({\dot{V}\mathrm{O}}_{2}\) within the moderate intensity domain.


Rating of perceived exertion Exercise prescription Running Rpe-clamp 



Gas exchange threshold


Velocity associated with GET

vGET + 15%

Velocity associated with 15% above GET


Respiratory frequency


Maximal respiratory frequency


Heart rate


Maximal heart rate


Lactate threshold


Blood lactate concentration


Respiratory compensation point


Respiratory exchange ratio


Maximal respiratory exchange ratio


Rating of perceived exertion


Maximal rating of perceived exertion


RPE corresponding with GET


RPE corresponding with 15% above GET


Minute ventilation


Maximal minute ventilation


Velocity corresponding to the RPE at GET


Velocity corresponding to the RPE at 15% above GET


Oxygen consumption rate


Maximal oxygen consumption rate


Velocity at \({\dot{V}\mathrm{O}}_{2max}\)


Author contributions

KCS and TJH conceived and designed the research. KCS, NDM, CMS, ECH conducted the experiments. KCS wrote the manuscript. TJH, NDM, CMS, ECH read and approved manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest related to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyCalifornia State UniversityFresnoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health and Human Performance, College of Innovation and Professional ProgramsConcordia University ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Nutrition and Health SciencesUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  4. 4.College of Health Sciences, KinesiologyUniversity of Texas At El PasoEl PasoUSA
  5. 5.Division of Kinesiology, School of Kinesiology and Physical TherapyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  6. 6.School of Kinesiology, Applied Health and RecreationOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  7. 7.Department of Nutritional SciencesOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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