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Effects and Mechanisms of Tapering in Maximizing Muscular Strength

Pritchard, Hayden BSc1,3; Keogh, Justin PhD2,3,4; Barnes, Matthew PhD5; McGuigan, Michael PhD, CSCS*D3

Strength & Conditioning Journal: April 2015 - Volume 37 - Issue 2 - p 72–83
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000125
Article

ABSTRACT: 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.

1Department of Exercise & Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North, New Zealand;

2Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia;

3Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand;

4Cluster for Health Improvement, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia; and

5School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors report no conflicts of interest and no source of funding.

Hayden Pritchard is a Lecturer in the Department of Exercise & Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences at the Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North, New Zealand; and PhD student in the Department of Sport & Recreation, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

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Justin Keogh is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine at Bond University, Queensland, Australia; and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand; and Cluster for Health Improvement, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast.

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Matthew Barnes is a Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

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Michael McGuigan is a Professor at the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

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© 2015 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association