Perceived exertion and heart rate models for estimating metabolic workload in elite British soldiers performing a backpack load-carriage task

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010 Oct;35(5):650-6. doi: 10.1139/H10-053.


Identifying field measures to estimate backpack load-carriage work intensity in elite soldiers is of interest to the military. This study developed rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and heart rate models to define metabolic workload for a backpack load-carriage task valid for a population of elite soldiers using serial data. Male soldiers (n = 18) from the British Parachute or Special Air Service Regiment completed an incremental treadmill walking and (or) running protocol while carrying a 20-kg backpack. Heart rate, RPE, and oxygen uptake were recorded at each incremental stage of the protocol. Linear mixed models were used to model the RPE and heart rate data in the metric of measured peak oxygen uptake. Workload was accurately estimated using RPE alone (SE = 6.03), percentage of estimated maximum heart rate (%E-MHR) (SE = 6.9), and percentage of measured maximum heart rate (%M-MHR) (SE = 4.9). Combining RPE and %E-MHR resulted in a field measure with an accuracy (SE = 4.9) equivalent to the %M-MHR model. We conclude that RPE, %E-MHR, and %M-MHR provide accurate field-based proxy measures of metabolic workload in elite British soldiers performing a backpack load-carriage task. The model is accurate for the metabolic range measured by these serial data for the backpack load-carriage task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • United Kingdom
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*
  • Young Adult