Physiological demands of Sabre competitions in elite fencers

Anthony Turner, Lygeri Dimitriou , Geoff Marshall, Mark Russell, Laurent Bannock, Chris Bishop

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sabre is considered the most explosive sword in fencing, characterized by short bursts of high intensity actions (2.5 s), with a work to rest ratio of 1:6 and predominately deriving energy from alactic metabolism. Currently however, there is no data examining within bout measures of physiological intensity and was thus the aim of this study. Six national level sabreurs were examined during a fencing competition, where subjective ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), blood lactate (BL), and total points per bout were recorded and further divided to define the intensity of poule and knockout (KO) bouts. Results revealed that on average, fencers operate under the threshold for the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) (poule = 3.0 ± 1.2 mmol·L-1, KO = 3.6 ± 1.3 mmol·L-1 respectively). However, individual analysis revealed that during at least one bout within the competition, all fencers produced scores in excess of 4 mmol·L-1. The intensity (RPE) of KO bouts was greater than that of poules (13.6 ± 2.6 vs. 12.1 ± 2.4 respectively) and significant correlations (p < 0.05) were observed between RPE and BL (r = 0.63), total points and BL (r = 0.79) and total points and RPE (r = 0.85) during the KO stages; no associations were found during the poules. These correlations enabled the identification of a points total (26 points) and RPE (score of 15) that potentially signified athletes working in excess of OBLA. Fencers and coaches could use these benchmarks to include tactical stoppages within each bout and to inform them of additional recovery interventions required prior to subsequent bouts.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


    • Fencing
    • sabre
    • OBLA
    • RPE


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