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Alfredo Santalla, Conrad P. Earnest, José A. Marroyo and Alejandro Lucia

From its initial inception in 1903 as a race premised on a publicity stunt to sell newspapers, the Tour de France had grown and evolved over time to become one of the most difficult and heralded sporting events in the world. Though sporting science and the Tour paralleled each other, it was not until the midlate 1980s, and especially the midlate 1990s (with the use of heart-rate monitors) that the 2 began to unify and grow together. The purpose of this brief review is to summarize what is currently known of the physiological demands of the Tour de France, as well as of the main physiological profile of Tour de France competitors.

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Miguel Angel Campos-Vazquez, Alberto Mendez-Villanueva, Jose Antonio Gonzalez-Jurado, Juan Antonio León-Prados, Alfredo Santalla and Luis Suarez-Arrones


To describe the internal training load (ITL) of common training sessions performed during a typical week and to determine the relationships between different indicators of ITL commonly employed in professional football (soccer).


Session-rating-of-perceived-exertion TL (sRPE-TL) and heart-rate- (HR) derived measurements of ITL as Edwards TL and Stagno training impulses (TRIMPMOD) were used in 9 players during 3 periods of the season. The relationships between them were analyzed in different training sessions during a typical week: skill drills/circuit training + small-sided games (SCT+SSGs), ball-possession games + technical-tactical exercises (BPG+TTE), tactical training (TT), and prematch activation (PMa).


HR values obtained during SCT+SSGs and BPG+TTE were substantially greater than those in the other 2 sessions, all the ITL markers and session duration were substantially greater in SCT+SSGs than in any other session, and all ITL measures in BPG+TTE were substantially greater than in TT and PMa sessions. Large relationships were found between HR >80% HRmax and HR >90% HRmax vs sRPE-TL during BPG+TTE and TT sessions (r = .61−.68). Very large relationships were found between Edwards TL and sRPE-TL and between TRIMPMOD and sRPE-TL in sessions with BPG+TTE and TT (r = .73−.87). Correlations between the different HR-based methods were always extremely large (r = .92−.98), and unclear correlations were observed for other relationships between variables.


sRPE-TL provided variable-magnitude within-individual correlations with HR-derived measures of training intensity and load during different types of training sessions typically performed during a week in professional soccer. Caution should be applied when using RPE- or HR-derived measures of exercise intensity/load in soccer training interchangeably.