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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Sep;37(9):1615-21.

A theoretical study of taper characteristics to optimize performance.

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Research Unit of Physiology and Physiopathology of Exercise and Handicap, University of Saint-Etienne, France.



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).


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.


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).


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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