The Relative Contribution of Training Intensity and Duration to Daily Measures of Training Load in Professional Rugby League and Union

Weaving, D.; Dalton-Barron, N.; McLaren, S.; Scantlebury, S.; Cummins, C.; Roe, G.; Jones, B.; Beggs, C.; Abt, G.

This study aimed to investigate the relative contributions of exercise duration and intensity to the training load of team-sport athletes, specifically male professional rugby league and union players. Monitoring was conducted over 6- and 52-week training periods for rugby league and rugby union players, respectively. Various whole-session and per-minute metrics were monitored, including session rating of perceived exertion training load (sRPE-TL), individualized training impulse, total distance, high-speed running distance, and BodyLoadTM.

Principal component analyses were separately conducted on the load and intensity measures to consolidate raw data into principal components (PC, k = 4). The first load PC captured 70% and 74% of the total variance in the rugby league and rugby union datasets, respectively. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that session duration explained 73% and 57% of the variance in the first load PC for rugby league and rugby union, respectively. Additionally, the four intensity PCs explained an additional 24% and 34% of the variance, respectively.

Overall, the findings indicate that across two professional rugby training programs, the majority of the variability in training load measures was explained by session duration (~60–70%), while a smaller proportion was explained by session intensity (~30%). Thus, when modeling training load, it is essential to disaggregate training intensity and duration to better account for their between-session variability.

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