The Tapering Practices of Strongman Athletes

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This study provides the first empirical evidence of how strongman athletes taper for strongman competitions. Strongman athletes (n=454) (mean ±SD: 33.2 ±8.0y, 178.1 ±10.6cm, 108.6 ±27.9kg, 12.6 ±8.9y general resistance training, 5.3 ±5.0y strongman implement training) completed a self-reported 4-page internet survey on tapering practices. Analysis by gender (male and female), age (≤ 30 and >30y), body mass (≤ 105 and >105kg) and competitive standard (local/regional amateur, national amateur and professional) was conducted. Eighty seven percent (n=396) of strongman athletes reported they used a taper. Athletes stated their typical taper length was 8.6 ±5.0 days, with the step taper the most commonly performed taper (52%). Training volume decreased during the taper by 45.5 ±12.9% and all training ceased 3.9 ±1.8 days out from competition. Typically, athletes reported training frequency and training duration stayed the same or decreased and training intensity decreased to around 50% in the last week. Athletes generally stated that; tapering was performed to achieve recovery, rest and peak performance; the deadlift, yoke walk and stone lifts/work took longer to recover from than other lifts; assistance exercises were reduced or removed in the taper; massage, foam rolling, nutritional changes and static stretching were strategies utilized in the taper; and, poor tapering occurred when athletes trained too heavy/hard or had too short a taper. This data will assist strongman athletes and coaches in the optimization of tapering variables leading to more peak performances. Future research could investigate the priming and pre-activation strategies strongman athletes utilize on competition day.

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