Improving Your Physical Performance in 3 Steps: #3 The Tapering Principle

  • 4 Oct ‘23
  • Bewegen 
  • Editorial OpenUp Medical

Exercise forms an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, it can lead to overtraining, which might adversely affect the body’s performance. Overtraining can lead to reduced performance, an increased vulnerability to injuries, and other health issues. To counteract this, the tapering principle has been introduced into exercise regimes.

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What is the tapering principle?

The tapering principle is a technique utilised in sports and exercise training programmes to diminish the intensity, volume, and frequency of exercise leading up to a competition or event.

This technique aids the body in recuperating from training, lowering the risk of overtraining, and enabling the body to perform at its pinnacle during the competition.

Tapering can also help maintain the advantages of training while mitigating the adverse effects of overtraining.

Benefits of tapering

The benefits of tapering have been exhaustively researched and chronicled in scientific literature. Tapering has demonstrated performance enhancement across a spectrum of sports, encompassing endurance events like marathons and cycling, team sports such as soccer and basketball, and strength training.

A meta-analysis of 50 studies established that tapering led to a 3.3% performance enhancement across diverse sports (Bosquet et al., 2007).

Tapering can also serve to curtail the likelihood of injuries. Overtraining can precipitate muscle fatigue, amplifying the risk of injuries. By diminishing exercise intensity and volume prior to a competition, the body has time to recuperate, thus reducing the risk of injury.

Additionally, tapering can contribute to stress reduction. Overtraining can elevate stress levels, which might detrimentally affect performance. By moderating exercise intensity, the body can diminish stress levels and perform optimally during a competition.

How to implement tapering

The execution of tapering can diverge based on the sport, the individual, and the competition schedule. Nevertheless, there exist general principles that can be followed to ensure the efficacy of tapering.

The duration of the tapering period can fluctuate depending on the sport and individual. Nonetheless, research indicates that a tapering duration of 1-4 weeks proves most effective (Mujika & Padilla, 2003).

Throughout this span, the intensity, volume, and frequency of exercise should be gradually reduced. This reduction should be conducted in a manner that facilitates recovery without compromising the gains from training.

The curtailment of exercise intensity, volume, and frequency should be structured to enable the body to uphold its level of fitness. This signifies that some exercise should persist during the tapering phase, albeit at a diminished intensity, volume, and frequency.

Optimising performance through tapering

The tapering principle constitutes a potent technique in sports and exercise training programmes, serving to mitigate the peril of overtraining and enhance performance. Tapering can also diminish the susceptibility to injury and stress, thus enabling the body to excel during a competition.

The implementation of tapering can deviate depending on the sport and individual, yet a general guideline is to progressively reduce exercise intensity, volume, and frequency over a tapering span of 1-4 weeks.

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