21 Oct 2003
Tapering is the final segment of a training period preceding an important competitive event in the athlete’s season.
Its purpose is the recovery of freshness, reducing the physiological and psychological stress of daily training and optimizing race performance.
Every athlete has his or her own physical and emotional requirements. Coaches therefore must tailor tapering to each individual.
There are, however, certain factors that are useful for everyone.
- The primary aim of tapering is to reduce physiological fatigue from preparatory training for important competitions.
- For cyclists, tapering periods last from as many as ten to as few as five days, depending on the individual.
- Training volume should be reduced progressively to arrive at between 20% to 30% of habitual riding distance.
- It’s a good idea to maintain certain intensity levels, however, so as to maintain muscular and hormonal values reached during training. Average rhythm intensity and threshold, for example, should be maintained even as training volume is reduced.
- Weekly training frequency should be maintained, according to training habits and performance level of the athlete, even though in certain cases it’s helpful to insert one or more supplemental days of complete rest.
Good tapering strategy can usually produce performance enhancement of between 2%-4%.