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Changes in Muscle Architecture, Explosive Ability, and Track and Field Throwing Performance Throughout a Competitive Season and After a Taper

Bazyler, Caleb D.; Mizuguchi, Satoshi; Harrison, Alex P.; Sato, Kimitake; Kavanaugh, Ashley A.; DeWeese, Brad H.; Stone, Michael H.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: October 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 10 - p 2785–2793
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001619
Original Research

Abstract: Bazyler, CD, Mizuguchi, S, Harrison, AP, Sato, K, Kavanaugh, AA, DeWeese, BH, and Stone, MH. Changes in muscle architecture, explosive ability, and track and field throwing performance throughout a competitive season and after a taper. J Strength Cond Res 31(10): 2785–2793, 2017—The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an overreach and taper on measures of muscle architecture, jumping, and throwing performance in Division I collegiate throwers preparing for conference championships. Six collegiate track and field throwers (3 hammer, 2 discus, 1 javelin) trained for 12 weeks using a block-periodization model culminating with a 1-week overreach followed by a 3-week taper (ORT). Session rating of perceived exertion training load (RPETL) and strength training volume-load times bar displacement (VLd) were recorded weekly. Athletes were tested pre-ORT and post-ORT on measures of vastus lateralis architecture, unloaded and loaded squat and countermovement jump performance, underhand and overhead throwing performance, and competition throwing performance. There was a statistical reduction in weight training VLd/session (d = 1.21, p ≤ 0.05) and RPETL/session (d = 0.9, p ≤ 0.05) between the in-season and ORT training phases. Five of 6 athletes improved overhead throw and competition throwing performance after the ORT (d = 0.50, p ≤ 0.05). Vastus lateralis muscle thickness statistically increased after the in-season training phase (d = 0.28, p ≤ 0.05) but did not change after the ORT. Unloaded countermovement jump peak force and relative peak power improved significantly after the ORT (d = 0.59, p ≤ 0.05, d = 0.31, p ≤ 0.05, respectively). These findings demonstrate that an overreaching week followed by a 3-week taper is an effective means of improving explosive ability and throwing performance in collegiate track and field throwers despite the absence of detectable changes in muscle architecture.

Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee

Address correspondence to Dr. Caleb D. Bazyler,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.