The effects of tapering on strength performance in trained athletes

Int J Sports Med. 1994 Nov;15(8):492-7. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1021093.


The optimum pre-competition taper procedure for "strength athletes" is not known. We examined voluntary strength and evoked contractile properties of the elbow flexors over a 10 day rest only (ROT) and a 10 day reduced volume taper (RVT) in 8 resistance trained males (23 +/- 2.1 years). Following 3 wks of standardized training of the elbow flexors, subjects were randomly assigned to one of the tapers. Upon completion, they resumed training for 3 wks and completed the other taper. No arm training was performed during the ROT, while high intensity, low volume training was done every second day during the RVT. Maximum isometric (MVC), low (0.52 rad.s-1; LV) and high velocity (3.14 rad.s-1; HV) concentric peak torque, and evoked isometric twitch contractile properties were measured before and after each training phase and every 48 h during each taper. ANOVA comparison of the tapers revealed that MVC increased (p < or = 0.05) over pre-taper values throughout the RVT (measurement days 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10), as did LV at 2, 4, 6, and 8 d. MVC did not change over the ROT but LV was significantly higher on day 2 and lower on days 8 and 10. LV was also greater on days 4, 6, 8 and 10 during the RVT compared to the ROT. The evoked contractile properties remained largely unchanged. The data indicate that resistance-trained athletes can improve low velocity concentric strength for at least 8 days by greatly reducing training volume, but maintaining training intensity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Elbow Joint / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*