A theoretical study of taper characteristics to optimize performance

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Sep;37(9):1615-21. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000177461.94156.4b.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the training factors that could affect taper efficiency. The analysis was done using simulations from a nonlinear model of the training effects on performance giving an individual optimal daily training (ODT).

Methods: Training responses were simulated using data from six subjects obtained in a previous training experiment (15-wk program including 3 wk without training). Assuming first a steady state with training equal to ODT, the taper was simulated with various step training reductions up to 100% of previous training. Overload period (OT) was then featured by a 20% step increase in training during 28 d before the taper. Finally, a taper with step reduction was compared with progressive reduction.

Results: The taper allowed performance gains if training was higher than a minimal level. The best performance without OT preceding the taper was reached with a load reduction of 30.8 +/- 11.8% and a duration of 19.3 +/- 2.3 d. The best performance with OT preceding the taper was significantly higher than without OT (P < 0.02) and was obtained with a significantly greater load reduction and duration, 39.3 +/- 9.9% and 28.0 +/- 5.1 d respectively. The best performance with a progressive load reduction was significantly higher than with a step reduction only with OT before the taper (102.2 +/- 1.7 vs 101.8 +/- 1.5% of performance with ODT, P < 0.005).

Conclusion: Greater training volume and/or intensity before the taper would allow higher performance gains, but would demand a greater reduction of the training load over a longer period. The results also pointed out the importance of training adaptations during the taper, in addition to fatigue dissipation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*