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Less Is More: The Physiological Basis for Tapering in Endurance, Strength, and Power Athletes


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Taper, or reduced-volume training, improves competition performance across a broad spectrum of exercise modes and populations. This article aims to highlight the physiological mechanisms, namely in skeletal muscle, by which taper improves performance and provide a practical literature-based rationale for implementing taper in varied athletic disciplines. Special attention will be paid to strength-and power-oriented athletes as taper is under-studied and often overlooked in these populations. Tapering can best be summarized by the adage " less is more " because maintained intensity and reduced volume prior to competition yields significant performance benefits.
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Sports 2015, 3, 209-218; doi:10.3390/sports3030209
ISSN 2075-4663
Less Is More: The Physiological Basis for Tapering in
Endurance, Strength, and Power Athletes
Kevin A. Murach 1,2,* and James R. Bagley 2
1 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Health Sciences and Center for Muscle Biology,
University of Kentucky, MS-508 Chandler Medical Center, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40508, USA
2 Department of Kinesiology, College of Health and Social Sciences, San Francisco State University,
1600 Holloway Avenue-Gym 101, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA; E-Mail:
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail:;
Tel.: +1-859-257-2375.
Academic Editor: Lee E. Brown
Received: 10 July 2015 / Accepted: 17 August 2015 / Published: 21 August 2015
Abstract: Taper, or reduced-volume training, improves competition performance across a
broad spectrum of exercise modes and populations. This article aims to highlight the
physiological mechanisms, namely in skeletal muscle, by which taper improves performance
and provide a practical literature-based rationale for implementing taper in varied athletic
disciplines. Special attention will be paid to strength- and power-oriented athletes as taper is
under-studied and often overlooked in these populations. Tapering can best be summarized
by the adage “less is more” because maintained intensity and reduced volume prior to
competition yields significant performance benefits.
Keywords: taper; reduced-volume training; periodization; skeletal muscle; fiber type
1. Introduction
Taper can be defined as a structured reduction in training volume (as compared to peak training load)
for a specific period of time prior to athletic competition as a means to enhance performance. In simpler
terms, taper is formalized recovery training that occurs after a heavy training block. Rest as an integral
aspect of training is not a recent concept. The importance of obligatory recovery time during training
was recognized as early as the ancient Olympic games [1]. However, the role of adequate rest in
Sports 2015, 3 210
optimizing performance has been more widely publicized in the last 60 years with the concept of
periodization [2,3], or varied training (i.e., mode, time, intensity) for a specific goal.
Endurance athletes have systematically practiced relative rest via reduced-volume training as a means
to improve performance for at least 50 years. However, Costill and colleagues [4] in 1985 were the first
to experimentally evaluate the physiological effects of a specific tapering protocol using competitive
swimmers. Since that time, taper’s efficacy has been well documented in swimming, cycling, running,
triathlon, rowing, strength training, and team sports to name a few. The effects of tapering are apparent
from the whole body (macro) [4] to the cell and gene (micro) [5,6] levels and even include psychological
improvements [7]. Despite the multitude of data supporting taper’s effectiveness, some athletes and
coaches still fail to acknowledge its importance and implement the practice. The purpose of this article
is to highlight how taper is experimentally shown to enhance athletic performance across multiple
exercise modes and populations. An overview of tapering in endurance-type athletes will be provided, but
special attention will be paid to strength- and power-oriented athletes for whom tapering is generally less
emphasized. Additionally, the discussion will highlight taper-mediated skeletal muscle improvements
and provide broad literature-based guidance for tapering. We hope to underscore the necessity for
coaches and athletes to employ well-controlled taper regimens during their training programs.
2. How to Taper
An effective taper regimen can be conducted in numerous ways. The duration and type of taper
generally varies by sport but the common theme among endurance tapering protocols is a substantial
reduction in training volume prior to competition. The literature suggests that an effective taper could
be as short as four days [8] and involve reductions in training volume of up to 90% [9,10]. An improperly
conducted taper where endurance exercise volume is only reduced by 25% and high- intensity work is
increased to compensate will not yield favorable results [11]. Increasing training volume instead of tapering
affords no benefits and may hinder performance [12,13]. For most endurance-oriented activities, a taper
lasting two to three weeks characterized by a 40%–70% reduction in volume from peak training with
maintained intensity will produce significant performance benefits. For a more in-depth review of specific
endurance tapering protocols, refer to Mujika et al. [14], Bosquet et al. [15], and Wilson et al. [16].
The nature of taper is less defined in the literature regarding intermittent type athletic disciplines such
as strength-focused weightlifting, power-focused Olympic-style weightlifting, and track and field or team
sports where both strength and power are emphasized. However, a recent review on tapering in strength
sports suggests (similar to endurance athletics) that performance is improved with a 30%–70% reduction in
volume (via reduced intra-session volume or less overall training frequency) for up to four weeks with
maintained or slightly increased intensity [17]. The tapering literature specific to power athletes is
particularly limited. However, a recent investigation found a 25%–40% reduction in resistance training
volume (sessions per week) with maintained intensity improved throwing performance after two weeks
in track and field athletes [18]. Another study found enhanced maximal power output with a three week
taper characterized by a ~75% resistance-training volume reduction, a slight increase in intensity, and
maintained sport-specific training in elite rugby players [19]. Similar to endurance athletes, reduced
volume with maintained or slightly increased intensity appears to be the key elements for tapering in
strength- and power-focused athletes.
Sports 2015, 3 211
3. Magnitude of Performance Benefits with Taper
A properly conducted taper improves race performance across a broad spectrum of athletic activities
and populations (Figure 1). It enhances performance in shorter race events (i.e., 50 meter swim, <10 km
cycling time trial [TT], 2000 m row) [4,7,13,20–22] as well as middle distance swimming, biking, and
running competition [4,5,9,13,20,22–24]. Taper also improves performance indices in longer-duration
events such as the duathlon [25], 40 km cycling TT [26], and triathlon [27,28]. For any distance event,
it is reasonable to expect that taper will increase performance on the order of 2%–3%. This is no small
change when considering that a 3% improvement in a collegiate 8 kilometer runner’s performance could
account for a 50 s faster race time [5]. Moreover, meaningful performance benefits are not exclusive to
endurance and race events with tapering. A 2%–3% improvement in the bench press and squat in strength
athletes [29] and a 5%–6% increase in throwing distance can occur in competitive track and field athletes
following a taper period [18].
Figure 1. Reported performance benefits from taper in different athletic events and populations.
Data were derived from the following studies in order from left to right:
Swim-Mujika et al. 2002 [30], Costill et al. 1985 [4], D’Acquisto et al. 1992 [9]. Bike-Berger et
al. 1999 [7], Neary et al. 2003 [24], Neary et al. 2003 [26]. Run-Luden et al. 2010 [5], Houmard
et al. 1994 [23]. Row-Steinacker et al. 2000 [21]. Throw-Zaras et al. 2014 [18].
m = Meter; M = Male; F = Female; HS = High School; TT = Time Trial; T + F = Track and Field.
% in Performance
Swim Bike Run Row Throw
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4. Fitness Is Not Lost with Taper
A common misconception among athletes and coaches is that less training always equates to a loss
of fitness. However, the literature indicates that fitness in endurance athletes (measured as aerobic
capacity, or VO
) is not lost following the taper period and five studies have actually shown an
increase in fitness with less training [18,21–23,25]. Reducing training volume for as long as four
weeks [7] by >85% (in the last week) [6,19] still yields gains in performance without a loss of fitness.
Considering the robust adaptations observed with short-duration high-intensity interval training, even in
already highly trained individuals [26,27], it should come as no surprise that a well-designed taper of
reduced volume and quality high intensity work can preserve fitness for up to a month. In strength
athletes, short-term complete rest (1 week) does not reduce force-producing capacity while tapering
only seems to improve strength [17]. To our knowledge, there is little to no evidence in the literature
showing that a properly conducted taper does not improve fitness indices in endurance, strength, power,
or team sport athletes.
5. Taper and Muscle Energy Usage
If an athlete consistently trains rigorously and with high volumes, one could expect muscle energy
stores (i.e., carbohydrate, or glycogen) to be chronically lowered. Logically, a reduction in training
volume during taper with proper diet reverses this condition (Figure 2) [10,24]. Initial muscle glycogen
levels do not seem to affect short-term high-intensity performance (i.e., a sprint) [31,32]. Indeed, the
performance decrements from overtraining [33] and the performance benefits from taper [26] can occur
independent of muscle glycogen levels during shorter duration activities. However, initial glycogen
levels do affect performance during repeated high-intensity efforts [34,35] as well as endurance efforts
lasting ~60 min or more [36,37]. Expanded muscle glycogen stores may therefore be a desirable
taper-induced adaptation for endurance athletes, team sport athletes, and during activities requiring
multiple individual efforts in quick succession. Other measures related to muscle energy usage such as
lactate [4,9,10,13,23,38,39] and aerobic enzymes [8,10,26] are less affected by tapering. Taper-mediated
muscle glycogen replenishment enhances performance in some circumstances but does not fully account
for the beneficial effects of tapering.
Figure 2. Illustration of training volume, accumulated fatigue, and skeletal muscle glycogen
content in response to training with and without taper (assuming proper diet). Concept
derived from Sherman et al. [37] and Halson et al. [40].
Sports 2015, 3 213
6. Taper Improves Muscle Power in Endurance Athletes
Numerous studies spanning various exercise modes and subject populations [21,41–43] have since
corroborated the original findings [4] of increased muscle power with taper in endurance athletes
(Figure 3). Taper-derived muscle power gains may occur in two phases (early and late) which reinforces
that a taper should be of adequate length (generally 2 weeks) [43]. One might predict the main effect of
tapering in endurance athlete’s muscle would be targeted to the highly aerobic slow-twitch muscle fibers.
However, it is the less abundant and 5–8 times more powerful fast-twitch fibers that drastically
respond [5,22,26,28]. These fibers grow at an alarmingly fast rate with taper [5,22,26], improving power
output without a measurable change in body mass [5,22]. Improved fast-twitch fiber function may allow
for a harder “push” to the finish line or improve economy (faster speed with the same amount of effort).
It has recently been shown that favorable regulation of molecular hypertrophy markers, specifically in
fast-twitch fibers, may support the high rate of growth in these fibers with tapering [6]. Although taper
has a positive effect down to the molecular level, taper-mediated growth is only realized when volume
is adequately reduced [11]. To our knowledge, data on the mechanisms of performance enhancement with
tapering in strength or power athletes are not available at the muscle cell level. However, strength and power
training can selectively hypertrophy fast-twitch muscle fibers [6], potentially maximizing growth
adaptation before tapering ensues. Thus, tapering likely augments performance in intermittent-type
athletes by a different mechanism than in endurance athletes.
Figure 3. Skeletal muscle improvements from taper across different exercise modes and
muscles. Data were derived from the following studies in order from left to right:
Fast-Twitch Size-Luden et al. 2010 [5], Neary et al. 2003 [26], Trappe et al. 2000 [22].
Fast-Twitch Force-Luden et al. 2010 [5], Trappe et al. 2000 [22]. Whole Muscle
Power-Steinacker et al. 2000 [21], Jeukendrup et al. 1992 [41], Costill et al. 1985 [4].
CSA = Cross Sectional Area; mN = Millinewtons.
Run Bike Swim Run Swim Row Bike Swim
% Change
Fast-Twitch Size
Fast-Twitch Force
Whole Muscle Power
Sports 2015, 3 214
7. How Tapering Improves Performance in Strength and Power Athletes
In the early phases of resistance training, neuromuscular mechanisms largely contribute to strength
increases independent from cellular mechanisms [44,45]. It follows that strength augmentation in the
early phase of taper (1 week) after heavy resistance training could be attributable to a reversal of
neuromuscular fatigue, specifically in highly-conditioned muscle [46]. Strength improvements could
also be mediated by general recovery from wear and tear caused by intense resistance training. This is
evidenced by reduced circulating markers of muscle damage with taper after progressive resistance
training in team sport athletes [47]. Increased muscle strength generally equates to improved power
production [29,48] since power is the product of strength and speed. However, the mechanism of
improved muscle function is not particularly well-documented in dedicated power athletes (e.g.,
competitive Olympic-style weightlifters). Regardless, total work, average peak power, repeated sprint
ability, vertical jump height, and maximal power output in power-oriented athletes is observed with 10
days to three weeks of tapering [18,19,49,50]. These findings support the “rest-related augmentation” or
“super-compensation” concept familiar to strength- and power-focused athletes who employ a long-term
periodized training model that favors intensity over volume as competition approaches [51]. While
additional mechanisms responsible for tapering’s positive effect in strength, power, and team sport
athletes remain to be elucidated, performance benefits are clear and tapering should be part of their
training programs just as with endurance-type athletes.
8. Summary and Perspectives
The full complement of physiological effects from tapering are numerous and extend beyond the
scope of this article (see Mujika et al. [52] and Pritchard et al. [17] for thorough reviews). However, the
take-home points from the literature are: 1) fitness is not lost with reduced-volume training; 2) the
profound effects of taper on whole muscle and fast-twitch fiber power are what appear to most greatly
contribute to performance enhancement in endurance athletes; and 3) tapering is effective for improving
performance in strength, power, and team sport athletes, but likely for different reasons than in endurance
athletes. It should also be noted that psychological research on taper reveals that tapering improves mood
state [7,21,53] and decreases perception of effort [54,55] in conjunction with improved performance.
While more difficult to quantify, the psychological benefits that taper may afford prior to competition
should not be understated. Nearly every well-controlled study to date on the topic of taper has shown
some degree of performance enhancement so long as training volume is adequately reduced and intensity
is maintained.
9. Practical Applications
The signals for adaptive processes occur during acute exercise bouts, but the actual adaptations take
place during the proceeding rest periods. It follows that after a long period of chronic high-volume
training that an extended period of relative rest and recovery is necessary to reap maximal performance
benefits. Generally speaking, the problem with most athletes is not a lack of training rigor but
demonstrating discipline and “pulling back” on training when necessary. This is evidenced by the recent
findings that: 1) some elite and world-champion athletes do not adhere to the optimal tapering protocols
Sports 2015, 3 215
outlined by the scientific literature and likely do not achieve true peak performance [56,57]; and 2)
functional over-reaching, a common practice among recreational and elite athletes alike, may undercut
the benefits of tapering [58]. Thus, tapering is adequately described by the adage “less is more” because
maintained intensity with less volume yields significant performance benefits.
Author Contributions
Kevin A. Murach made substantial contributions to overall conception, drafting, and critically
revising the manuscript. James R. Bagley made substantial contributions to drafting and critically
revising the manuscript. Both authors approved of the final version to be published.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... It is important to note that competitive runners often decrease their overall mileage 2 to 4 weeks prior to a scheduled race [18]. This is referred to as tapering. ...
... Most notably, less training can leave runners longing for the endorphins normally produced and experienced following a run. Although it seems that these alterations may lead to feelings of depression or anxiety, psychological research has revealed that tapering actually improves mood state [16,[18][19][20]. This was demonstrated by our study, as feelings of nervousness were associated with a lower duration of tapering. ...
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An estimated 40 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, making it the most common psychiatric disorder in the country. Although the data are conflicting and limited, engaging in or increasing exercise has been proposed for the management of anxiety and other mental health disorders. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a correlation between pre-race anxiety and running experience, sex, body mass index, age, and mental health history using the validated Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-Item screening tool for anxiety. This study was a prospective trial of 403 adult runners who were scheduled to participate in a 5 K, 10 K, half marathon, or full marathon race. Each participant completed a survey consisting of epidemiologic variables and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-Item screening tool. Results revealed that the runners with more experience and increased mileage demonstrated a decrease in reported worrying on a daily to near-daily basis; whether this finding correlates with a decreased risk of developing an anxiety disorder has yet to be determined. Based on our findings, exercise as a prescription for the treatment and possibly prevention of anxiety should be considered.
... Each day contained the same total body exercises used in the overload week; however, the total training volume was substantially reduced (Table 1). In an attempt to enhance performance, training intensity remained high during the taper [17,18]. Training loads were adjusted to 90% and 85% of the average load used during days 3 and 4, respectively, of the overload week. ...
... The taper period consisted of reduced training volume and intensity to allow for fatigue dissipation and recovery [17]. During the taper, total volume load and sRPE were significantly lower than overload values. ...
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The purposes of this study were: (1) to determine if smartphone-derived heart rate variability (HRV) could detect changes in training load during an overload microcycle and taper, and (2) to determine the reliability of HRV measured in the morning and measured immediately prior to the testing session. Twelve powerlifters (male = 10, female = 2) completed a 3-week resistance training program consisting of an introduction microcycle, overload microcycle, and taper. Using a validated smartphone application, daily measures of resting, ultra-short natural logarithm of root mean square of successive differences were recorded in the morning (LnRMSSDM) and immediately before the test session (LnRMSSDT) following baseline, post-overload, and post-taper testing. LnRMSSDM decreased from baseline (82.9 ± 13.0) to post-overload (75.0 ± 9.9, p = 0.019), while post-taper LnRMSSDM (81.9 ± 7.1) was not different from post-overload (p = 0.056) or baseline (p = 0.998). No differences in LnRMSSDT (p < 0.05) were observed between baseline (78.3 ± 9.0), post-overload (74.4 ± 10.2), and post-taper (78.3 ± 8.0). LnRMSSDM and LnRMSSDT were strongly correlated at baseline (ICC = 0.71, p < 0.001) and post-overload (ICC = 0.65, p = 0.010), whereas there was no relationship at post-taper (ICC = 0.44, p = 0.054). Bland–Altman analyses suggest extremely wide limits of agreement (Bias ± 1.96 SD) between LnRMSSDM and LnRMSSDT at baseline (4.7 ± 15.2), post-overload (0.5 ± 16.9), and post-taper (3.7 ± 15.3). Smartphone-derived HRV, recorded upon waking, was sensitive to resistance training loads across an overload and taper microcycles in competitive strength athletes, whereas the HRV was taken immediately prior to the testing session was not.
... Results for Phase C, which was considered the main competition period and included tapering and interim race stage/s, show that there was no sex difference for weekly training mileage or duration, which may be due to this phase including tapering, and the consequential drastic reduction in weekly training volume for both females and males compared to the prior phases [49]. However, considering that this phase also included interim race stage/s, which are likely related to the main event race distance, there may be a connection to the significant sex differences identified for daily training mileage and duration [15]. ...
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Training for running events is fundamental for successful participation in various running events such as 10 km, half-marathon, marathon, or ultra-marathon distances. Training behaviors are likely based on runner motivations and social constraints, particularly for females. Participants completed a questionnaire following a cross-sectional approach, including questions on sociodemographics, general training behaviors, and periodization training strategies. The final sample included 245 participants (141 females, 104 males), mostly from Germany (72%), Austria (18%), and Switzerland (5%), with a median age of 39 years (IQR 17) and a BMI of 21.7 kg/m² (IQR 3.5). Males more often trained alone and independently, whereas females were most likely to follow an external resource (p = 0.037). Non-parametric ANOVA revealed significant training differences between sexes in daily training mileages and durations at each phase and stage (p < 0.05) as well as in weekly training mileages and durations for general basic training and race-specific training (p < 0.05). Critical sex differences in training behaviors may arise from physiological differences and social expectations, which may be related to the distances they prefer to race at as well as their motivations for running and racing. This study provides a wide overview of training behaviors for endurance runners or professionals guiding healthy running performance.
... At the same level through the entire taper period [6,7,9,20,37,44,55,56,57] or increased [58] Possibility of training individualization for distance groups and swimmer's regeneration abilities. ...
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The pre-competition training phase is a period that precedes the main competition. Combined training phases of overload training (OT) and taper (TP) create the most popular pattern of final form preparation among the swimmers despite the methodology difficulties faced by coaches. In the IPC, the duration and training load were strictly set. The main purpose of training in the IPC is to cause a substantial supercompensation effect by the high volume and capacity of the training. However, high volume and intensity fluctuations typical of the IPC may cause performance regression due to overtraining and exhaustion. The main aim of the taper phase (TP) is to provide recovery and develop peak racing capability for a particular event. This process relies on gradual reduction of training overload (mainly volume) in order to achieve the peak racing ability, after the planned, already achieved high level of swimming performance and efficiency. The duration of the TP and the form of load reduction are crucial factors affecting improvements in the swimmer’s competition times. The TP strategy was identified as the safest and the most beneficial one. This paper aims at providing characterization of training procedures used in IPC and TP, together with a presentation of the physiological mechanism exploited here and a possible performance improvement.
... Consequently, powerlifters often adopt specific training protocols -either self-or coach-developed -that ultimately follow periodized progression referred [1]. Periodization modulates training loads via daily, weekly, or monthly alterations in training load, frequency, repetition scheme, and/ or exercise variation to potentially enhance strength adaptation [2], [3]. The two main guiding principles of training prescription have been developed utilizing two theories of adaptation and performance: the Selye general adaptation syndrome [4] and the fitness-fatigue theory [5]. ...
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Powerlifting competition is comprised of three barbell lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift that are all completed in a single day and summed together, ultimately normalized to the lifter’s body weight via the Wilks Coefficient. This figure is then subsequently employed to determine the “best” athlete in that meet. During the competition preparation, powerlifters often undergo peaking protocols which include physiologically taxing overreach and low-volume, recovery-focused taper phases to collectively induce super-compensatory strength adaptations. Heart rate variability (HRV) has emerged as an easily accessible, user-friendly biomarker for autonomic nervous system-associated fatigue and readiness. Therefore, the purpose of this observational study was to investigate the potential impact of a peaking protocol on fatigue/readiness via HRV measurements and its possible relationship with competitive powerlifting performance. Daily measurements of HRV were taken, each morning, using the HRV4Trainning smartphone application by nineteen competitive powerlifters (26.16±4.56 years) from 14-days prior to a peaking protocol, throughout individual peaking phases, on meet day, and 14- days following competition. A quadratic regression was used to determine the predictability of HRV measurements and powerlifting performance. The change in HRV from competition day to baseline was found to be a significant predictor of Wilks coefficient (p=0.038, R2=0.336; mean±SE log- transformed root mean square of successive R-R intervals [lnRMSSD] = -51.98±22.23). Although extrapolations of the present study are limited by inherent subject peaking protocol variability, these data suggest HRV may nonetheless represent a viable means to modulate individual athlete training programs to promote recovery.
... Tapering. Murach & Bagley 62 affirm that "the increase in strength and power in the initial phase of tapering (≤1 week) may be attributable to a reversal of neuromuscular fatigue, specifically in highly conditioned muscles." The tapering duration was tested in preparation for the Chinese National Trials for the Olympic Games, which were held 8 weeks before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the simulation of the priming session and the PAPE strategies was also conducted. ...
The People's Republic of China obtained at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games its best historical performance in the triple jump, thereby winning the silver medal. The objective of this case study was to present how evidence-based knowledge was applied to improve selected factors that may have contributed to this result. The factors included running speed, strength, muscle power, jumping technique, body composition, mental preparation, training organization, and recovery. Short training blocks, monitoring of training sessions and athlete's status, individualized tapering, use of activation sessions the day before competition, and postactivation performance enhancement strategies used in training and at the event were concepts followed during the preparation to the Games. Improved performance in field tests and power training was accompanied by positive changes in approach speed, run-up accuracy, and jumping technique, which, together with mental preparation, enabled two personal records to be set in the Olympic final. The results in the field tests were among the best ever reported and could constitute a benchmark for world-class triple jumpers.
... HIFT session attendance will be organized to ensure between 2 and 5 people at each scheduled time. The training protocol will be divided into three 4-week phases where exercise is progressed in both intensity and volume during each phase, with the last week of each phase being digressed to 60-70% of the volume [80,81]. Progression of volume will follow the characteristics in Table 1. ...
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Background Individuals with metabolic syndrome (MetS) are at a greater risk for developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) than those without MetS, due to underlying endothelial dysfunction, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. Exercise is an effective primary and secondary prevention strategy for MetS; however, less than 25% of adults meet the minimum stated public recommendations. Barriers often identified are lack of enjoyment and lack of time. High-intensity functional training (HIFT), a time-efficient modality of exercise, has shown some potential to elicit positive affectivity and elicit increased fitness and improved glucose metabolism. However, the effects of HIFT on dyslipidemia and endothelial dysfunction have not been explored nor have the effects been explored in a population with MetS. Additionally, no studies have investigated the minimal dose of HIFT per week to see clinically meaningful changes in cardiometabolic health. The purpose of this study is to (1) determine the dose-response effect of HIFT on blood lipids, insulin resistance, and endothelial function and (2) determine the dose-response effect of HIFT on body composition, fitness, and perceived enjoyment and intention to continue the exercise. Methods/design In this randomized, dose-response trial, participants will undergo a 12-week HIFT intervention of either 1 day/week, 2 days/week, or 3 days/week of supervised, progressive exercise. Outcomes assessed at baseline and post-intervention will be multiple cardiometabolic markers, and fitness. Additionally, the participant’s affective response will be measured after the intervention. Discussion The findings of this research will provide evidence on the minimal dose of HIFT per week to see clinically meaningful improvements in the risk factors of MetS, as well as whether this modality is likely to mitigate the barriers to exercise. If an effective dose of HIFT per week is determined and if this modality is perceived positively, it may provide exercise specialists and health care providers a tool to prevent and treat MetS. Trial registration NCT05001126 . August 11, 2021.
... Such an effect may increase the capacity to generate enhanced force and power generation when running steeper hills or "kicking" at the end of a race. Indeed, it is well characterized that tapers are beneficial to a range of endurance athletes, and this may be an explanatory factor [31,32]. ...
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Human muscle fibers are generally classified by myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoforms characterized by slow to fast contractile speeds. Type I, or slow-twitch fibers, are seen in high abundance in elite endurance athletes, such as long-distance runners and cyclists. Alternatively, fast-twitch IIa and IIx fibers are abundant in elite power athletes, such as weightlifters and sprinters. While cross-sectional comparisons have shown marked differences between athletes, longitudinal data have not clearly converged on patterns in fiber type shifts over time, particularly between slow and fast fibers. However, not all fiber type identification techniques are created equal and, thus, may limit interpretation. Hybrid fibers, which express more than one MHC type (I/IIa, IIa/IIx, I/IIa/IIx), may make up a significant proportion of fibers. The measurement of the distribution of fibers would necessitate the ability to identify hybrid fibers, which is best done through single fiber analysis. Current evidence using the most appropriate techniques suggests a clear ability of fibers to shift between hybrid and pure fibers as well as between slow and fast fiber types. The context and extent to which this occurs, along with the limitations of current evidence, are discussed herein.
... As a result of this study, the researchers found that there was an increase in the repetitive sprint performance ((SMD) (95% IC; I2) = 0.41), maximal power ((SMD (95% IC; I2) = 0.44), and direction change speed ((SMD (95% IC; I2) = 0.38) 60). (61,62,63,64,65). In a study conducted on male swimmers, it was found that after a 3-week taper, there was no change in athletes' type 1 fibre diameter and in crosss-sectional area, but type 2a fibre diameter increased by 11% and cross-sectional area increased by 24% (65). ...
This study was conducted to systematically compile and sythesize the studies about taper training in literature and in the most current form, to reveal the physiological changes caused by taper trainings. Qualitative research methods were used for in-depth study and interpretation of the studies on taper applications published between 1985-2020. Document analysis was used as data collection method and the obtained data were analyzed by content analysis method. Taper training is a complex training method that facilitates the systematic reduction of the training load and the attainment of the physiological harmony. Before the major competitions the reductions in load, density, volume or frequency of the training in order to achieve optimal performance are made which is called the taper. The aim of taper training is to reduce fatigue and increase physiological adaptation and performance in athletes through intensive training. Since each sport branch has different physiological demands, taper trainings are applied differently in individual and team sports. The effects of these practices may vary in athletes in different branches. In the literature studies, some increases were found in the blood volume and red blood cells values, muscular glycogen deposits, some enzymes, blood lactate and VO2 max. values and the movement economies of athletes. However, in some studies, some decreases were found in the levels of the respiratory threshold, creatine kinase in the blood and the values of the submaximal ventilation, the diastolic and systolic blood pressures of the athletes. Keywords: Taper training, athlete, performance improvement, physiological changes
Because of increased choreographic demands, early specialization, multi-genre dancers, and high incidence of career-ending injuries, there is a need for enhanced training methodologies to address the unique needs of today's professional dancer. It is imperative for company directors, instructors, choreographers, and dance medicine practitioners to consider implementing the most specific conditioning and training programs to prepare their dancers to meet or exceed expectations without resultant injury. Quantifying effectiveness of choreography-specific training programs is an area for further research. The implementation of scientific principles can and should be used to enhance dancers' health, performance, athleticism, and artistry.
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In brief: Seventeen male collegiate swimmers were studied before, during, and after 14 days of reduced training (tapering). Maximal arm power was measured using a bio- kinetic swim bench and during a tethered (power) swim test, and each swimmer also swam 200 yards (182.9 meters) at an evenly paced velocity corresponding to 90% of his best performance of the season. Tapering had no influence on postexercise acid-base balance, but there was a significant increase (p <.05) in power output on both the biokinetic swim bench and the power swim test. Performance times improved an average of 3.1%. The improvements are in part due to significant gains in muscular power.
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Tapering for maximal strength requires reductions in training load to recover from the fatigue of training. It is performed before important competitions to allow optimal performance at specific events. Reductions in training volume, with maintained or small increases in training intensity, seem most effective for improving muscular strength. Training cessation may also play a role, with less than 1 week being optimal for performance maintenance, and 2–4 days appearing to be optimal for enhanced maximal muscular strength. Improved performance may be related to more complete muscle recovery, greater neural activation, and an enhanced anabolic environment.
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This study evaluated gene expression changes in gastrocnemius slow-twitch myosin heavy chain I (MHC I) and fast-twitch (MHC IIa) muscle fibers of collegiate cross-country runners (n = 6, 20±1 y, VO2max = 70±1 ml•kg−1•min−1) during two distinct training phases. In a controlled environment, runners performed identical 8 kilometer runs (30:18±0:30 min:s, 89±1% HRmax) while in heavy training (~72 km/wk) and following a 3 wk taper. Training volume during the taper leading into peak competition was reduced ~50% which resulted in improved race times and greater cross-section and improved function of MHC IIa fibers. Single muscle fibers were isolated from pre and 4 hour post run biopsies in heavily trained and tapered states to examine the dynamic acute exercise response of the growth-related genes Fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (FN14), Myostatin (MSTN), Heat shock protein 72 (HSP72), Muscle ring-finger protein-1 (MURF1), Myogenic factor 6 (MRF4), and Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) via qPCR. FN14 increased 4.3-fold in MHC IIa fibers with exercise in the tapered state (P<0.05). MSTN was suppressed with exercise in both fiber types and training states (P<0.05) while MURF1 and HSP72 responded to running in MHC IIa and I fibers, respectively, regardless of training state (P<0.05). Robust induction of FN14 (previously shown to strongly correlate with hypertrophy) and greater overall transcriptional flexibility with exercise in the tapered state provides an initial molecular basis for fast-twitch muscle fiber performance gains previously observed after taper in competitive endurance athletes.
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Abstract The aim of the study was to explore pre-competition training practices of elite endurance runners. Training details from elite British middle distance (MD; 800 m and 1500 m), long distance (LD; 3000 m steeplechase to 10,000 m) and marathon (MAR) runners were collected by survey for 7 days in a regular training (RT) phase and throughout a pre-competition taper. Taper duration was [median (interquartile range)] 6 (3) days in MD, 6 (1) days in LD and 14 (8) days in MAR runners. Continuous running volume was reduced to 70 (16)%, 71 (24)% and 53 (12)% of regular levels in MD, LD and MAR runners, respectively (P < 0.05). Interval running volume was reduced compared to regular training (MD; 53 (45)%, LD; 67 (23)%, MAR; 64 (34)%, P < 0.05). During tapering, the peak interval training intensity was above race speed in LD and MAR runners (112 (27)% and 114 (3)%, respectively, P < 0.05), but not different in MD (100 (2)%). Higher weekly continuous running volume and frequency in RT were associated with greater corresponding reductions during the taper (R = -0.70 and R = -0.63, respectively, both P < 0.05). Running intensity during RT was positively associated with taper running intensity (continuous intensity; R = 0.97 and interval intensity; R = 0.81, both P < 0.05). Algorithms were generated to predict and potentially prescribe taper content based on the RT of elite runners. In conclusion, training undertaken prior to the taper in elite endurance runners is predictive of the tapering strategy implemented before competition.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a pre-season taper on individual power-force-velocity profiles and jump performance in professional National Rugby League (NRL) players. Seven professional rugby league players performed concentric squat jumps using ascending loads of 25, 50, 75, 100% body mass before and after a 21 day step taper leading into the in-season. Linear force-velocity relationships were derived and the following variables were obtained: maximum theoretical velocity (V0), maximum theoretical force (F0) and maximum power (Pmax). The players showed likely-to-very likely increases in F0 (ES=0.45) and Pmax (ES=0.85) from pre to post taper. Loaded squat jump height also showed likely-to-most likely increases at each load (ES=0.83-1.04). The 21 day taper was effective at enhancing maximal power output and jump height performance in professional rugby players, possibly due to a recovery from fatigue and thus increased strength capability after a prolonged preseason training period. Rugby league strength and conditioning coaches should consider reducing training volume while maintaining intensity and aerobic conditioning (e.g. step taper) leading into the in-season.
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Purpose: To describe training variations across the annual cycle in Olympic and World Champion endurance athletes, and determine whether these athletes used tapering strategies in line with recommendations in the literature. Methods: Eleven elite XC skiers and biathletes (4 male; 28±1 yr, 85±5 mL x min(-1) x kg(-1) VO2max, 7 female, 25±4 yr, 73±3 mL x min(-1) x kg(-1) VO2max) reported one year of day-to-day training leading up to the most successful competition of their career. Training data were divided into periodization and peaking phases and distributed into training forms, intensity zones and endurance activity forms. Results: Athletes trained ∼800 h/500 sessions x year(-1), including ∼500 h x year(-1) of sport-specific training. Ninety-four percent of all training was executed as aerobic endurance training. Of this, ∼90% was low intensity training (LIT, below the first lactate threshold) and 10% high intensity training (HIT, above the first lactate threshold) by time. Categorically, 23% of training sessions were characterized as HIT with primary portions executed at or above the first lactate turn point. Training volume and specificity distribution conformed to a traditional periodization model, but absolute volume of HIT remained stable across phases. However, HIT training patterns tended to become more polarized in the competition phase. Training volume, frequency and intensity remained unchanged from pre-peaking to peaking period, but there was a 32±15% (P<.01) volume reduction from the preparation period to peaking phase. Conclusions: The annual training data for these Olympic and World champion XC skiers and biathletes conforms to previously reported training patterns of elite endurance athletes. During the competition phase, training became more sport-specific, with 92% performed as XC skiing. However, they did not follow suggested tapering practice derived from short-term experimental studies. Only three out of 11 athletes took a rest day during the final 5 days prior to their most successful competition.
Zaras, ND, Stasinaki, A-NE, Krase, AA, Methenitis, SK, Karampat-sos, GP, Georgiadis, GV, Spengos, KM, and Terzis, GD. Effects of tapering with light vs. heavy loads on track and field throwing performance. J Strength Cond Res 28(12): 3484–3495, 2014— The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of power training with light vs. heavy loads during the tapering phases of a double periodized training year on track and field throwing performance. Thirteen track and field throwers aged 16–26 years followed 8 months of systematic training for performance enhancement aiming at 2 tapering phases during the winter and the spring competition periods. Athletes performed tapering with 2 different resistance training loads (counterbalanced design): 7 athletes used 30% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM) light-load tapering (LT), and 6 athletes used the 85% of 1RM heavy-load tapering (HT), during the winter tapering. The opposite was performed at the spring tapering. Before and after each tapering, throwing performance , 1RM strength, vertical jumping, rate of force development (RFD), vastus lateralis architecture, and rate of perceived exertion were evaluated. Throwing performance increased significantly by 4.8 6 1.0% and 5.6 6 0.9% after LT and HT, respectively. Leg press 1RM and squat jump power increased more after HT than LT (5.9 6 3.2% vs. 23.4 6 2.5%, and 5.1 6 2.4% vs. 0.9 6 1.4%, respectively, p # 0.05). Leg press RFD increased more in HT (38.1 6 16.5%) compared with LT (22.9 6 6.7%), but LT induced less fatigue than HT (4.0 6 1.5 vs. 6.7 6 0.9, p # 0.05). Muscle architecture was not altered after either program. These results suggest that performance increases similarly after tapering with LT or HT in track and field throwers, but HT leads to greater increases in strength, whole body power, and RFD.
Purpose: To examine whether performance supercompensation during taper is maximized in endurance athletes after experiencing overreaching during an overload training period. Methods: Thirty three trained male triathletes were assigned to either overload training (n=23) or normal training groups (n=10, CTL) during 8 weeks. Cycling performance and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) were measured after one-week of moderate training, a 3-week period of overload training and then each week during four-week taper. Results: Eleven of the 23 subjects from the overload training group were diagnosed as functionally overreached after the overload period (decreased performance with concomitant high perceived fatigue, F-OR), while the 12 other subjects were only acutely fatigued (no decrease in performance, AF). According to qualitative statistical analysis, the AF group demonstrated a small to large greater peak performance supercompensation than the F-OR group (2.6 ±1.1%) and the CTL group (2.6 ±1.6%). VO2max increased significantly from baseline at peak performance only in the CTL and AF groups. 60%, 83% and 73% of peak performances occurred within the two first weeks of taper in CTL, AF and OR, respectively. Ten cases of infection were reported during the study with higher prevalence in F-OR (70%) than in AF (20%) and CTL (10%). Conclusion: This study showed that 1) greater gains in performance and V ̇O2max can be achieved when higher training load is prescribed before the taper but not in the presence of F-OR; 2) peak performance is not delayed during taper when heavy training loads are completed immediately prior; and 3) F-OR provides higher risk for training maladaptation, including increased infection risks.
Conference Paper
The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of power training with light vs. heavy loads during the tapering phases of a double periodized training year on track and field throwing performance. Thirteen track and field throwers aged 16-26 years followed 8 months of systematic training for performance enhancement aiming at two tapering phases during the winter and the spring competition periods. Athletes performed tapering with two different resistance training loads (counterbalanced design): 7 athletes used 30%-1RM (LT) and 6 athletes used the 85%-1RM (HT), during the winter tapering. The opposite was performed at the spring tapering. Before and after each tapering, throwing performance, 1-RM strength, vertical jumping, rate of force development (RFD), vastus lateralis architecture, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were evaluated. Throwing performance increased significantly by 4.8 ± 1.0% and 5.6 ± 0.9% after LT and HT, respectively. Leg press 1-RM and squat jump power increased more after HT than LT (5.9 ± 3.2% vs. -3.4 ± 2.5%, and 5.1 ± 2.4% vs. 0.9 ± 1.4% respectively, p < 0.05). Leg press RFD increased more in HT (38.1 ± 16.5%) compared to LT (-2.9 ± 6.7%), but LT induced less fatigue than HT (4.0 ± 1.5 vs. 6.7 ± 0.9, p < 0.05). Muscle architecture was not altered after either program. These results suggest that performance increases similarly after tapering with LT or HT in track and field throwers but HT leads to greater increases in strength, whole body power and RFD.