Relationships between RPE- and HR-Derived Measures of Internal Training Load in Professional Soccer Players: A Comparison of On-Field Integrated Training Sessions

Campos-Vazquez, M.A., Mendez-Villanueva, A., Gonzalez-Jurado, J.A., León-Prados, J.A., Santalla, A., Suarez-Arrones, L.

The purpose of this study was to characterize the internal training load (ITL) during common training sessions typically conducted throughout a week in professional football, and to explore the relationships between different indicators of ITL.

Methods involved the use of Session-RPE TL (sRPE-TL) and heart rate (HR)-derived measurements of ITL, including Edward’s-TL and Stagno training impulses (TRIMPMOD), in nine players over three periods of the season. Different training sessions during a typical week were analyzed, including Skill Drills/Circuit Training+Small-Sided Games (SCT+SSGs), Ball-Possession Games+Technical-Tactical Exercises (BPG+TTE), Tactical-Training (TT), and Pre-Match activation (PMa).

Results showed that HR values during SCT+SSGs and BPG+TTE were substantially higher than in other sessions, with SCT+SSGs having the highest ITL measures and session duration. BPG+TTE sessions also had significantly higher ITL measures compared to TT and PMa sessions. Large to very large relationships were found between HR-derived measures and sRPE-TL, especially during BPG+TTE and TT sessions. Additionally, correlations between different HR-based methods were extremely high.

Conclusion: While Session-RPE provided variable correlations with HR-derived measures of training intensity and load across different training sessions in professional soccer, caution should be exercised when using RPE- or HR-derived measures interchangeably, as the relationships between them may vary depending on the type of training session.

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