In-Season Training Load Quantification of One-, Two-, and Three-Game Week Schedules in a Top European Professional Soccer Team

Oliveira, R., Brito, J., Martins, A., Mendes, B., Calvete, F., CarriƧo, S., Ferraz, R., Marques, M.

Objective: This study aimed to quantify internal and external training loads (TL) within different competitive schedules (one-game, two-game, and three-game weeks) among elite soccer players.

Methods: Thirteen elite soccer players were included in the study. Training load was assessed using a global positioning system (GPS) to measure total distance covered and distances in different exercise training zones (1-5), session ratings of perceived exertion (s-RPE) scores, and creatine kinase (CK) levels during daily training sessions throughout the 2015-2016 in-season period. The data were analyzed based on the number of days prior to a given match.

Results: Significant differences were found in training intensity for zone 1 between one-game and two-game weeks, as well as for zone 3 between one-game and three-game weeks. There were also significant differences in the duration of training sessions and matches between various competitive schedules. Additionally, CK levels differed significantly between one-game and two-game weeks. A significant decrease in TL was observed on the last day prior to a match across all microcycles and variables, while no significant difference was noted in s-RPE scores.

Conclusion: This study provides insights into the daily external and internal TLs and weekly accumulated load among elite soccer players during different competitive schedules. Variations in TL were observed within and between different competitive schedules, with a consistent decrease in load observed on the day before a match across all microcycles. These findings contribute to a better understanding of how training load fluctuates in response to the demands of different competitive schedules and can inform training and recovery strategies for elite soccer players.

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