Rating of perceived exertion during concentric and eccentric cycling: Are we measuring effort or exertion?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance


Human Kinetics Publishers Inc

Place of Publication

United States


Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research / School of Medical and Health Sciences




Peñailillo, L., Mackay, K., & Abbiss, C. R. (2018). Rating of Perceived Exertion During Concentric and Eccentric Cycling: Are We Measuring Effort or Exertion?. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 13(4), 517-523. Available here.


Despite the terms' often being used interchangeably, it has been suggested that perceptions of effort and perceptions of exertion may differ. Eccentric (ECC) cycling may provide a model of exercise by which differences between these perceptions can be examined. Purpose: To examine and compare perceptions of effort and exertion during ECC and concentric (CONC) cycling at 4 intensities. Methods: Ten healthy male participants (mean [SD]: Age = 29.8 [2.3] y) performed an incremental cycling test for the determination of maximal aerobic power output, followed in a randomized and crossover design, by four 5-min bouts (30%, 60%, 80%, and maximal) of either ECC or CONC cycling. Through each bout, participants were asked to report their perceived effort, exertion, and muscle pain. Heart rate and oxygen consumption were continuously recorded throughout each bout. Results: Perceived exertion was greater for CONC at 30% (8.5 [1.5] vs 7.1 [1.8]; P = .01), 60% (12.4 [1.4] vs 10.3 [2.0]; P = .01), 80% (15.8 [1.7] vs 12.4 [2.5]; P < .01), and maximal (17.2 [1.3] vs 15.6 [1.8]; P = .03) in comparison with ECC. Perceptions of effort and pain were similar between CONC and ECC. Heart rate and oxygen consumption were greater during CONC than ECC. Conclusions: Perceived exertion was greater during CONC compared with ECC cycling, yet effort was similar between conditions despite different physiological stress. Such findings have implications for understanding the development of such perceptions during exercise.



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