Tapering before the competition optimally implemented

The competition season is in full swing and athletes now literally want to reap what they have sown in training before. In order to be able to call up the individually optimal performance at an important competition, a tapering should be carried out. Tapering refers to the reduction of the training load as immediate competition preparation and can lead to an increase in performance of three to five percent [1][2].

Findings of science…

As a metastudy shows, a duration of two weeks with a training volume of 40-60 percent of the previous one and without adjusting both the training intensity distribution and frequency appears to be the most promising [3]. This means that the frequency of training sessions is maintained. However, their duration is shortened and the intensity ranges are adapted to the total range reduced to 40-60%. However, tapering in this context only makes sense before the most important competitions of the year, which are usually a maximum of three per year. If a competition with lower priority is scheduled, it is advisable to reduce the amount of training three to five days before the race.

…put into practice

As practice shows, tapering should always be individually coordinated and it is advisable to maintain proven structures. If, for example, a restday two days before the competition proves to enhancing performance, it makes sense to also plan such one before further operations. With a balanced diet and regenerative measures, the effect of tapering can be further optimized.

What do top athletes and experienced coaches say?

You’ll find out in one of the next posts.


[1] Houmard, J.A., Scott, B.K., Justice, C.L. & Chenier, T.C. (1994). The effects of taper on performance in distance runners. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 26(5), 624-631.

[2] Neary, J.P., Bhambhani, Y.N. & McKenzie, D.C. (2003). Effects of different stepwise reduction taper protocols on cycling performance. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 28(4), 576-587.

[3] Bosquet, L., Montpetit, J., Arvisais, D. & Mujika, I. (2007). Effects of tapering on performance: a meta-analysis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(8), 1358-1365.