The Impact of 3 Different-Length Between-Matches Microcycles on Training Loads in Professional Rugby League Players

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015 Sep;10(6):767-73. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2015-0100. Epub 2015 May 26.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adult
  • Athletes* / psychology
  • Athletic Performance* / psychology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Competitive Behavior
  • Football* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Perception
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Running*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult