Quantification of Training Load During One-, Two- and Three-Game Week Schedules in Professional Soccer Players from the English Premier League: Implications for Carbohydrate Periodisation

Anderson, L., Orme, P., Di Michele, R., Close, G.M., Morgans, R., Drust, B., Morton, J.P.

Muscle glycogen serves as the primary energy source during soccer matches, yet its significance for soccer training, which typically involves lower loads, remains unclear. To provide insights for carbohydrate (CHO) guidelines, we assessed training load in English Premier League soccer players (n = 12) during one-, two-, and three-game week schedules, with weekly training frequencies of four, four, and two sessions, respectively.

In a one-game week, training load progressively decreased (P < 0.05) in the three days leading up to match day (total distance = 5223 ± 406, 3097 ± 149, and 2912 ± 192 m for day 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Although daily training load and periodization were similar in the one- and two-game weeks, the total cumulative distance (including both match and training load) was higher in a two-game week (32.5 ± 4.1 km) compared to a one-game week (25.9 ± 2 km). In contrast, the daily training total distance was lower in the three-game week (2422 ± 251 m) compared to the one- and two-game weeks, although the cumulative weekly distance was highest in this week (35.5 ± 2.4 km). Additionally, more time (P < 0.05) was spent in speed zones >14.4 km/h (14%, 18%, and 23% in the one-, two-, and three-game weeks, respectively).

Considering that high CHO availability enhances physical match performance but may dampen molecular pathways regulating training adaptation, especially with the low daily customary loads observed here (e.g., 3–5 km per day), we suggest that daily CHO intake should be periodized according to weekly training and match schedules.

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