The aim of the current study was to identify the external-training-load markers that are most influential on session rating of perceived exertion (RPE) of training load (RPE-TL) during elite soccer training.
Twenty-two elite players competing in the English Premier League were monitored. Training-load data (RPE and 10-Hz GPS integrated with a 100-Hz accelerometer) were collected during 1892 individual training sessions over an entire in-season competitive period. Expert knowledge and a collinearity r < .5 were used initially to select the external training variables for the final analysis. A multivariateadjusted within-subjects model was employed to quantify the correlations of RPE and RPE-TL (RPE × duration) with various measures of external training intensity and training load.
Total high-speed-running (HSR; >14.4 km/h) distance and number of impacts and accelerations >3 m/s2 remained in the final multivariate model (P < .001). The adjusted correlations with RPE were r = .14, r = .09, and r = .25 for HSR, impacts, and accelerations, respectively. For RPE-TL, the correlations were r = .11, r = .45, and r = .37, respectively.
The external-load measures that were found to be moderately predictive of RPE-TL in soccer training were HSR distance and the number of impacts and accelerations. These findings provide new evidence to support the use of RPE-TL as a global measure of training load in elite soccer. Furthermore, understanding the influence of characteristics affecting RPE-TL may help coaches and practitioners enhance training prescription and athlete monitoring.