Q+A: Does Self-Selection Of Resistance Load Show Merit?

Q+A: Studies on Women and Resistance Training



A: Many trainers establish a client’s one-repetition maximum (1-RM) to estimate appropriate intensity for resistance training. However, research published in 2017 suggests that allowing female clients to self-select their load based on rating of perceived exertion is a workable alternative to using 1-RM.

Researchers recruited 20 women (aged 23 ± 3) who performed three exercise sessions 72 hours apart. In the self-select session, subjects were free to adjust the weight to provide a comfortable yet challenging workout. Their average loads corresponded to 57% of 1-RM.

The researchers concluded that self-selected loads are effective at eliciting a muscular response in trained women and that RPE is an accurate gauge of resistance exercise intensity. Note that previous research has found that women who self-select their resistance loads demonstrate greater intent and self-efficacy than those who rely on imposed loads.

REFERENCE: Cotter, J.A., et al. 2017. Ratings of perceived exertion during acute resistance exercise performed at imposed and self-selected loads in recreationally trained women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31 (8), 2313–18.


Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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