Taper is considered as a strategy to avoid overtraining and increase peak performance in athletes. Because aerobic exercise increases the level and duration of independence during the lifespan, the participation of recreational athletes has increased in running events around the world. However, the effects of using load reduction in their training and aerobic performance are still not well known.
Our goal was to compare load manipulations, using tapering-like periods in the end of recreational athletes training evaluating alterations in oxygen supply, muscle injury, and metabolism markers.
Healthy males (n = 88, 20-35 years old) were randomly distributed in groups using a combination of two mesocycles of 4 weeks, undulatory and staggered, with two daily microcycles, undulatory and linear. Undulatory-undulatory (Und-Und) and undulatory-linear (Und-Lin) groups had load reduction in the final week of training while the staggered-undulatory (Sta-Und) and staggered-linear (Sta-Lin) groups did not. Cardiorespiratory capacity (V̇O2max), body mass index (BMI), and body fat % were evaluated. Blood samples were also collected to analyze hematocrit (Ht), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCHC), circulating levels of hemoglobin (Hb), creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), urea (U), cortisol (C), free testosterone (FT), and free T/C ratio.
After 8 weeks of training, Und-Und had the highest trend to increase V̇O2max. Both Und-Und and Sta-Lin reduced body fat %. Und-Und showed a significant increase in MCHC, T and Free T/C ratio, a positive trend to increase Ht% and Hb levels, and a trend to decrease CK, LDH, and C circulating levels. Sta-Lin presented a trend to decrease Ht% and Hb levels, a significant increase in CK, LDH, AST, ALT circulating levels, and a decrease in Free T/C ratio.
The use of daily undulatory training load provides better gains for aerobic fitness while the use of staggered load, mainly associated with linear load, promotes inadequate recovery in recreational runners.