Monitoring the training load

Rate of Perceived Exertion

A simple yet effective method of monitoring the workload of rugby players is to use a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale shown in the figure below. This is a 15-point scale which measures the effort or intensity that the player subjectively felt during the training and an example of the scale is presented in the figure below (Foster et al, 2001).

Each player rates the effort or intensity of the training session between 20 and 30 minutes after the session. This is then recorded. The Rate of Perceived Exertion is then multiplied by the duration of the session. This is known as session RPE and has been shown to be a valuable monitoring tool in rugby (Fullarton and Benton, 2015). It gives the coach a way of adding the load of different sessions together to get a daily or weekly load for their players (Scott et al, 2016). For example, a weights session could be given a RPE of 14 and last 45 minutes so 14 x 45 = 630 units of load. The player might then do a pitch training session in the evening which is given a RPE of 12 and lasts 90 minutes so 12 x 90 = 1080 units of load. If these are added together the total is 1710 units of load for that day. The weekly load is then calculated by adding the daily loads together. By monitoring this throughout the season the coach can identify jumps or drop-offs in load being experienced by the player. This can help guide the training programme to make sure coaches are not overloading the players or conversely that not underloading the players.