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Fatigue in elite fencing

effects of a simulated competition


  • Giorgio Varesco Nantes Université, Laboratory Movement – Interactions – Performance (MIP), UR 4334, F-44000 Nantes, France.
  • Benjamin Pageaux Université de Montréal, École de kinésiologie et des sciences de l’activité physique (EKSAP), Montréal, Canada. Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (CRIUGM), Montréal, Canada. Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur le cerveau et l’apprentissage (CIRCA), Montréal, Canada.
  • Thomas Cattagni Nantes Université, Laboratory Movement – Interactions – Performance (MIP), UR 4334, F-44000 Nantes, France.
  • Aurélie Sarcher Nantes Université, Laboratory Movement – Interactions – Performance (MIP), UR 4334, F-44000 Nantes, France.
  • Guillaume Martinent University of Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Univ Lyon, Laboratory on vulnerabilities and innovation in sport, Lyon, France
  • Julie Doron Nantes Université, Laboratory Movement – Interactions – Performance (MIP), UR 4334, F-44000 Nantes, France.
  • Marc Jubeau Nantes Université, Laboratory Movement – Interactions – Performance (MIP), UR 4334, F-44000 Nantes, France.



mental fatigue,, rate of force development, interpolated twitch technique, combat sport, escrime, fencing, fatigability, NASAtlx


The fatigue induced by fencing remains scarcely investigated. The literature suggests limited fatigability despite the high perceived effort experienced during a fencing competition. In this study, we aimed to investigate both objective (neuromuscular performance fatigability) and subjective (perceived fatigue, effort and workload) manifestations of fatigue in elite fencers following a 5-bouts simulated competition. Changes in countermovement jump height, knee extensors maximal isometric torque, rate of torque development, voluntary activation, and contractile response to muscular electrical stimulation were measured in 29 elite fencers [12 epee (6 women), 11 saber (5 women), and 6 foil]. Perceived fatigue and effort were evaluated with visual analog scales, and the perceived workload was evaluated with the NASATLX scale. The knee extensors neuromuscular function remained unaltered after a single bout. During the competition, maximal torque and rate of torque development decreased by 1.6% (P=0.017) and 2.4% (P<0.001) per bout, respectively. Perceived fatigue increased during the competition (12% per bout) with higher values at the beginning of the bouts, and similar values at the end of the bouts (time × bout interaction: P<0.001). Perceived effort increased during the bouts (10% per bout, P<0.001) and during the competition (3% per bout, P=0.011). Perceived mental demand was the sole NASATLX dimension increasing during the competition (2%, P=0.024). These results suggest limited impairments in the knee extensor neuromuscular function after a fencing competition, and that elite fencers needed to increase the allocation of mental rather than physical resources to the task to counterbalance the deleterious effect of fatigue on performance.


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