Background and Aim
Fencers compete over long competition days (9-11 hours) wearing full body protective
clothing whilst performing high-intensity explosive movements interspersed with low
intensity preparatory or recovery movements. Therefore the aim of this review is to
provide contemporary perspectives of the literature discussing the physiological and
thermoregulatory demands of fencing to inform training, competition, and recovery
Research articles were searched through three online databases (Pubmed, SPORTDiscus,
and Google Scholar; 1985-2022) and included results discussing physiological demands
for all three weapons (epée, foil, and sabre).
The physiological demands of fencing performance are high and increase as fencers move
from Poule fights to knockout Direct Elimination fights. Fencers compete at 75-100% of
maximum heart rate, and ~75% maximal oxygen consumption in Direct Elimination
fights. Fencing performance is reliant on the phosphocreatine and aerobic energy
systems as shown through low blood lactate concentrations. Considerable variation in
distance covered during competition is generally reported (i.e., 435 to 1652m in Direct
Elimination fights). Despite fencers competing in full body protective clothing with a
potentially large thermoregulatory challenge only one study has examined
thermoregulatory responses during fencing whereby fencers’ gastrointestinal
temperature can peak at >39°C.
Future research highlighted by the findings of this review includes studies of all weapon
types especially foil and sabre, during actual competitive environments.
Thermoregulatory responses of fencing need to be determined including measures of
skin temperature, mask temperature (as a measure of micro-climates) and thermal
sensation, allowing for appropriate cooling strategies to be applied between fights to
maintain or improve performance.
Practical Applications
A greater understanding of the physiological demands of fencing performance will allow
athletes, coaches, and practitioners to design training to prepare athletes for competition
and allow fencing specific protocols to be developed to determine recovery strategies
within fencing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Elite Sport Performance
Issue number1
Early online date22 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Physiological demands of fencing: A Narrative review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this