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A Theoretical Study of Taper Characteristics to Optimize Performance


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2005 - Volume 37 - Issue 9 - pp 1615-1621
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000177461.94156.4b
Applied Sciences: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the training factors that could affect taper efficiency. The analysis was done using simulations from a nonlinear model of the training effects on performance giving an individual optimal daily training (ODT)

Methods: Training responses were simulated using data from six subjects obtained in a previous training experiment (15-wk program including 3 wk without training). Assuming first a steady state with training equal to ODT, the taper was simulated with various step training reductions up to 100% of previous training. Overload period (OT) was then featured by a 20% step increase in training during 28 d before the taper. Finally, a taper with step reduction was compared with progressive reduction

Results: The taper allowed performance gains if training was higher than a minimal level. The best performance without OT preceding the taper was reached with a load reduction of 30.8 ± 11.8% and a duration of 19.3 ± 2.3 d. The best performance with OT preceding the taper was significantly higher than without OT (P < 0.02) and was obtained with a significantly greater load reduction and duration, 39.3 ± 9.9% and 28.0 ± 5.1 d respectively. The best performance with a progressive load reduction was significantly higher than with a step reduction only with OT before the taper (102.2 ± 1.7 vs 101.8 ± 1.5% of performance with ODT, P < 0.005)

Conclusion: Greater training volume and/or intensity before the taper would allow higher performance gains, but would demand a greater reduction of the training load over a longer period. The results also pointed out the importance of training adaptations during the taper, in addition to fatigue dissipation.

Research Unit of Physiology and Physiopathology of Exercise and Handicap, University of Saint-Etienne, FRANCE.

Address for correspondence: Luc Thomas, Pavilion of Sports Medicine and Myology, Bellevue Hospital F-42055 Saint-Etienne Cedex 2 France; E-mail:

Submitted for publication December 2004.

Accepted for publication April 2005.

The authors gratefully acknowledge Josiane Castells for reviewing the manuscript and the other members of the Research Unit PPEH for their valuable assistance.

©2005The American College of Sports Medicine