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To examine the impact of varying between-matches microcycles on training characteristics (ie, intensity, duration, and load) in professional rugby league players and to report on match load related to these between-matches microcycles.
Training-load data were collected during a 26-wk competition period of an entire season. Training load was measured using the session rating of perceived exertion (session-RPE) method for every training session and match from 44 professional rugby league players from the same National Rugby League team. Using the category-ratio 10 RPE scale, the training intensity was divided into 3 zones (low <4 AU, moderate ≥4-≤7 AU, and high >7 AU). Three different-length between-matches recovery microcycles were used for analysis: 5−6 d, 7−8 d, and 9−10 d.
A total of 3848 individual sessions were recorded. During the shorter-length between-matches microcycles (5−6 d), significantly lower training load was observed. No significant differences for subsequent match load or intensity were identified between the various match recovery periods. Overall, 16% of the training sessions were completed at the low-intensity zone, 61% at the moderate-intensity zone, and 23% at the high-intensity zone.
The findings demonstrate that rugby league players undertake higher training load as the length of between-matches microcycles is increased. The majority of in-season training of professional rugby league players was at moderate intensity, and a polarized approach to training that has been reported in elite endurance athletes does not occur in professional rugby league.
The meanMoreira is with the Dept of Sport, School of Physical Education and Sport, and Aoki, the School of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Kempton, Sirotic, and Coutts are with the Sport & Exercise Discipline Group, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Sydney, Australia.