Muscle glycogen is the predominant energy source for soccer match play, though its importance for soccer training (where lower loads are observed) is not well known. In an attempt to better inform carbohydrate (CHO) guidelines, we quantified training load in English Premier League soccer players (n = 12) during a one-, two- and three-game week schedule (weekly training frequency was four, four and two, respectively). In a one-game week, training load was progressively reduced (P < 0.05) in 3 days prior to match day (total distance = 5223 ± 406, 3097 ± 149 and 2912 ± 192 m for day 1, 2 and 3, respectively). Whilst daily training load and periodisation was similar in the one- and two-game weeks, total accumulative distance (inclusive of both match and training load) was higher in a two-game week (32.5 ± 4.1 km) versus one-game week (25.9 ± 2 km). In contrast, daily training total distance was lower in the three-game week (2422 ± 251 m) versus the one- and two-game weeks, though accumulative weekly distance was highest in this week (35.5 ± 2.4 km) and more time (P < 0.05) was spent in speed zones >14.4 km · h(-1) (14%, 18% and 23% in the one-, two- and three-game weeks, respectively). Considering that high CHO availability improves physical match performance but high CHO availability attenuates molecular pathways regulating training adaptation (especially considering the low daily customary loads reported here, e.g., 3-5 km per day), we suggest daily CHO intake should be periodised according to weekly training and match schedules.
Keywords: Carbohydrate; glycogen; high intensity; periodization.