Combining Internal- and External-Training-Load Measures in Professional Rugby League

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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This study investigated the effect of training mode on the relationships between measures of training load in professional rugby league players.


Five measures of training load (internal: individualized training impulse, session rating of perceived exertion; external—body load, high-speed distance, total impacts) were collected from 17 professional male rugby league players over the course of two 12-wk preseason periods. Training was categorized by mode (small-sided games, conditioning, skills, speed, strongman, and wrestle) and subsequently subjected to a principal-component analysis. Extraction criteria were set at an eigenvalue of greater than 1. Modes that extracted more than 1 principal component were subjected to a varimax rotation.


Small-sided games and conditioning extracted 1 principal component, explaining 68% and 52% of the variance, respectively. Skills, wrestle, strongman, and speed extracted 2 principal components each explaining 68%, 71%, 72%, and 67% of the variance, respectively.


In certain training modes the inclusion of both internal and external training-load measures explained a greater proportion of the variance than any 1 individual measure. This would suggest that in training modes where 2 principal components were identified, the use of only a single internal or external training-load measure could potentially lead to an underestimation of the training dose. Consequently, a combination of internal- and external-load measures is required during certain training modes.

Weaving, Marshall, Earle, and Abt are with the Dept of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Hull, Kingston upon Hull, UK. Nevill is with the School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, Walsall, UK. Address author correspondence to Grant Abt at