Prediction of one-repetition maximum from submaximal ratings of perceived exertion in older adults pre- and post-training

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Individual’s one-repetition maximum (1-RM) is required to calculate and prescribe intensity for resistance training, while testing protocols enhance the risk of injuries and are time-consuming.


The aim of the present study was to assess the accuracy of 1-RM prediction from ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) of resistance exercises performed at submaximal sets (intensity and volume) in older adult males before and after a 12-week rehabilitation program.


18 untrained subjects (70.4 ± 4.5 years) first completed a 1-RM direct assessment with a horizontal leg press pre- and post-training. Thereafter, participants performed, in a random order, 2-repetition sets with loads unknown to them (corresponding to 20, 45 and 70 % of 1-RM). The RPE was recorded immediately after the sets. That RPE associated to its corresponding load was subjected to a linear regression analysis to extrapolate the maximal RPE score and its corresponding 1-RM.


RPE and relative intensities of sets appeared related pre- [r 2 = 0.59, standard error of estimate (SEE) = 13.3 %] and post-training (r 2 = 0.83, SEE = 8.1 %). Differences between measured and predicted 1-RM were reduced from the beginning to the end of training but standard deviations remained high (17.4 ± 11.8 vs. 4.2 ± 11.1 kg). Pre-training, 1-RM expressed relatively to body weight was negatively related with the errors of 1-RM predictions (r 2 = 0.39, p = 0.03).


In older subjects, RPE may be used to predict 1-RM; however, the predicted value deviates considerably from the measured one, necessitating cautious application. Importantly, this method allows to capture training-induced change in 1-RM, thus making possible assessing training’s effectiveness and allowing its modification if necessary.

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Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the author.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Correspondence to François-Denis Desgorces.

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Desgorces, F., Thomasson, R., Aboueb, S. et al. Prediction of one-repetition maximum from submaximal ratings of perceived exertion in older adults pre- and post-training. Aging Clin Exp Res 27, 603–609 (2015).

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  • Strength training
  • Aging
  • Perceived exertion
  • One-repetition maximum
  • Rehabilitation