Physiological effects of tapering in highly trained athletes

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1992 Feb;72(2):706-11. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1992.72.2.706.


This study examined some of the physiological and performance effects of three different tapers in highly trained athletes. After 8 wk of training, nine male middle-distance runners were randomly assigned to one of three different 7-day tapers: a high-intensity low-volume taper (HIT), a low-intensity moderate-volume taper (LIT), or a rest-only taper (ROT). After the first taper, subjects resumed training for 4 wk and performed a second taper and then resumed training for 4 wk and completed the remaining taper, so that each subject underwent all three tapers. Performance was measured before and after each taper by a treadmill run to fatigue at a velocity equivalent each subject's best 1,500-m time. Voluntary isometric strength and evoked contractile properties of the quadriceps were measured before and after each taper, as were muscle glycogen concentration and citrate synthase activity (from needle biopsies) and total blood and red cell volume by 125I and 51Cr tagging. Maximal O2 consumption was unaffected by all three tapers, but running time to fatigue increased significantly after HIT (+22%). It was unaffected by LIT (+6%) and ROT (-3%) procedure. Citrate synthase activity increased significantly with HIT and decreased significantly with ROT. Muscle glycogen concentration increased significantly after ROT and HIT, and strength increased after all three tapers. Total blood volume increased significantly after HIT and decreased after ROT.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Volume / physiology
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactates / metabolism
  • Lactic Acid
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Running


  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glycogen
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase