Purpose: To examine the impact of varying between-matches microcycles on training characteristics (ie, intensity, duration, and load) in professional rugby league players and to report on match load related to these between-matches microcycles.
Methods: Training-load data were collected during a 26-wk competition period of an entire season. Training load was measured using the session rating of perceived exertion (session-RPE) method for every training session and match from 44 professional rugby league players from the same National Rugby League team. Using the category-ratio 10 RPE scale, the training intensity was divided into 3 zones (low <4 AU, moderate ≥ 4-≤ 7 AU, and high >7 AU). Three different-length between-matches recovery microcycles were used for analysis: 5-6 d, 7-8 d, and 9-10 d.
Results: A total of 3848 individual sessions were recorded. During the shorter-length between-matches microcycles (5-6 d), significantly lower training load was observed. No significant differences for subsequent match load or intensity were identified between the various match recovery periods. Overall, 16% of the training sessions were completed at the low-intensity zone, 61% at the moderate-intensity zone, and 23% at the high-intensity zone.
Conclusions: The findings demonstrate that rugby league players undertake higher training load as the length of between-matches microcycles is increased. The majority of in-season training of professional rugby league players was at moderate intensity, and a polarized approach to training that has been reported in elite endurance athletes does not occur in professional rugby league.