Seasonal Training-Load Quantification in Elite English Premier League Soccer Players

Malone J, Di Michele R, Morgans R, Burgess D

Purpose: To quantify the seasonal training load completed by professional soccer players in the English Premier League.

Methods: Thirty players were sampled using GPS, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during daily training sessions throughout the 2011–12 preseason and in-season period. Preseason data were analyzed across six 1-week microcycles, while in-season data were analyzed across six 6-week mesocycle blocks and three 1-week microcycles at start, midpoint, and end-time points. Data were also analyzed concerning the number of days before a match.

Results: The typical daily training load, including total distance, high-speed distance, percent maximal heart rate (%HRmax), and RPE load, did not differ during each week of the preseason phase. However, the daily total distance covered was 1304 (95% CI 434–2174) m greater in the 1st mesocycle than in the 6th, and %HRmax values were also greater (3.3%, 1.3–5.4%) in the 3rd mesocycle than in the first. Training load was lower on the day before a match (MD-1) compared to 2 (MD-2) to 5 (MD-5) days before a match, although no difference was apparent between these latter time points.

Conclusions: This study provides the first report of seasonal training load in elite soccer players, demonstrating that periodization of training load was typically confined to MD-1, regardless of the mesocycle. However, no differences were apparent during MD-2 to MD-5. Future studies should evaluate whether this loading and periodization are conducive to optimal training adaptations and match-day performance.

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