The increase of perceived exertion, aches and pain in the legs, heart rate and blood lactate during exercise on a bicycle ergometer

  • Gunnar Borg
  • Gunilla Ljunggren
  • Ruggero Ceci


This study was designed to show the general increase in perceived exertion, perception of aches or pain in the legs, heart rate (HR), and blood lactate, and the covariance between these variables during bicycle ergometer work, and to describe individual differences both within and between power levels by testing a large group (28 male students).

Estimates of perceived exertion and feelings of aches or pain in the legs were recorded using Borg's category-ratio scale (CR-10). The subjects were tested with a stepwise increase of power levels with 40 W increments up to a voluntary maximum.

Though HR increases fairly linearly with power, the other variables follow positively accelerating functions with exponents of about 1.6–2 for the perceptual variables, and an exponent of about 3 for blood lactate.

The results from the 8 most fit subjects could be described in the same way as for the whole group except for blood lactate, where there was a need to include a threshold value (b), that, together with a rest value (a), shows the starting point of the function (R=a+c(WW0)n).

The data support the idea that a combination of heart rate and blood lactate is a better predictor of perceived exertion and feelings of aches and pain in the legs, than is each of the single physiological variables taken alone.

Key words

Perceived exertion Aches and pain in the legs Heart rate Blood lactate Psychophysiology Physiological functions Individual differences Category-ratio scaling Psychophysics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gunnar Borg
    • 1
  • Gunilla Ljunggren
    • 1
  • Ruggero Ceci
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of StockholmStockholmSweden

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