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Short-Term Training Cessation as a Method of Tapering to Improve Maximal Strength

Pritchard, Hayden, J.1,2; Barnes, Matthew, J.3; Stewart, Robin, J.C.4; Keogh, Justin, W.L.2,5,6; McGuigan, Michael, R.2,7

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: February 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 458–465
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001803
Original Research

Pritchard, HJ, Barnes, MJ, Stewart, RJC, Keogh, JWL, and McGuigan, MR. Short-term training cessation as a method of tapering to improve maximal strength. J Strength Cond Res 32(2): 458–465, 2018—The aim of this study was to determine the effects of 2 different durations of training cessation on upper- and lower-body maximal strength performance and to investigate the mechanisms underlying performance changes following short-term training cessation. Eight resistance trained males (23.8 ± 5.4 years, 79.6 ± 10.2 kg, 1.80 ± 0.06 m, relative deadlift 1 repetition maximum of 1.90 ± 0.30 times bodyweight [BW]) each completed two 4-week strength training periods followed by either 3.5 days (3.68 ± 0.12 days) or 5.5 days (5.71 ± 0.13 days) of training cessation. Testing occurred pretraining (T1), on the final day of training (T2), and after each respective period of training cessation (T3). Participants were tested for salivary testosterone and cortisol, plasma creatine kinase, psychological profiles, and performance tests (countermovement jump [CMJ], isometric midthigh pull, and isometric bench press [IBP]) on a force plate. Participants' BW increased significantly over time (p = 0.022). The CMJ height and IBP peak force showed significant increases over time (p = 0.013, 0.048, and 0.004, respectively). Post hoc testing showed a significant increase between T1 and T3 for both CMJ height and IBP peak force (p = 0.022 and 0.008 with effect sizes of 0.30 and 0.21, respectively). No other significant differences were seen for any other measures. These results suggest that a short period of strength training cessation can have positive effects on maximal strength expression, perhaps because of decreases in neuromuscular fatigue.

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

2Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand;

3School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand;

4Faculty of Health Science, Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North, New Zealand;

5Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Queensland, Australia;

6Cluster for Health Improvement, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia; and

7School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

Address correspondence to Hayden J. Pritchard,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.