Scientific Bases for Precompetition Tapering Strategies

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MUJIKA, I., and S. PADILLA. Scientific Bases for Precompetition Tapering Strategies. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1182–1187, 2003. The taper is a progressive nonlinear reduction of the training load during a variable period of time, in an attempt to reduce the physiological and psychological stress of daily training and optimize sports performance. The aim of the taper should be to minimize accumulated fatigue without compromising adaptations. This is best achieved by maintaining training intensity, reducing the training volume (up to 60–90%) and slightly reducing training frequency (no more than 20%). The optimal duration of the taper ranges between 4 and more than 28 d. Progressive nonlinear tapers are more beneficial to performance than step tapers. Performance usually improves by about 3% (usual range 0.5–6.0%), due to positive changes in the cardiorespiratory, metabolic, hematological, hormonal, neuromuscular, and psychological status of the athletes.

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