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Differential training loads and individual fitness responses to pre-season in professional rugby union players

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Iain SpearsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.We aimed to compare differentiated training loads (TL) between fitness responders and non-responders to an eight-week pre-season training period in a squad of thirty-five professional rugby union players. Differential TL were calculated by multiplying player’s perceptions of breathlessness (sRPE-B) and leg muscle exertion (sRPE-L) with training duration for each completed session. Performance-based fitness measures included the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YYIRTL1), 10-, 20-, and 30-m linear sprint times, countermovement jump height (CMJ) and predicted one-repetition maximum back squat (P1RM Squat). The proportion of responders (≥ 75% chance that the observed change in fitness was > typical error and smallest worthwhile change) were 37%, 50%, 52%, 82% and 70% for YYIRTL1, 20/30-m, 10-m, CMJ and P1RM Squat, respectively. Weekly sRPE-B-TL was very likely higher in YYIRTL1 responders (mean difference = 18%; ±90% confidence limits 11%), likely lower in 20/30-m (19%; ±20%) and 10-m (18%; ±17%) responders, and likely higher in CMJ responders (15%; ±16%). All other comparisons were unclear. Weekly sRPE-B discriminate between rugby union players who respond to pre-season training when compared with players who do not. Our findings support the collection of differential ratings of perceived exertion and the use of individual response analysis in team-sport athletes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McLaren SJ, Smith A, Bartlett JD, Spears IR, Weston M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Sports Sciences

Year: 2018

Volume: 36

Issue: 21

Pages: 2438-2446

Print publication date: 02/11/2018

Online publication date: 09/04/2018

Acceptance date: 19/01/2018

Date deposited: 08/06/2020

ISSN (print): 0264-0414

ISSN (electronic): 1466-447X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1461449

PubMed id: 29629620


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