The physiological demands of elite epée fencers during competition
The aim of this study was to determine the physiological demands of epée fencing performance. Eight elite male epée fencers competed in a competition consisting of 7 Poule and 7 Direct Elimination (DE) fights. Core temperature (TC), heart rate (HR), movement patterns, training load, and differentiated ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were collected for all Poule and DE fights. Expired gas, and energy expenditure (EE) were measured using breath-by-breath gas analysis during selected fights, along with blood lactate concentration. Maximal HR and RPE were greater in DE than Poule fights. There was a tendency for greater increases in TC in DE compared to Poule fights (p = 0.052). Blood lactate concentration decreased during the competition from Poule to DE suggesting reliance on phosphocreatine and aerobic energy sources during fencing. High oxygen consumption (~50 ml.kg−1. min−1) and EE (~13 kcal.min−1) were recorded in both Poule and DE. Fencers covered 3 times more distance in DE than Poule fights. High training load scores were also recorded. This is the first study to show an increased physiological strain, with high aerobic and anaerobic demands, as fencing competition progressed from Poule to DE. Additionally, there was a considerable energy demand exhibited during epée competition.