Tapering Practices of Strongman Athletes

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Abstract

Winwood, PW, Dudson, MK, Wilson, D, Mclaren-Harrison, JKH, Redjkins, V, Pritchard, HJ, and Keogh, JWL. Tapering practices of strongman athletes. J Strength Cond Res 32(5): 1181–1196, 2018—This study provides the first empirical evidence of how strongman athletes taper for strongman competitions. Strongman athletes (n = 454) (mean ± SD: 33.2 ± 8.0 years, 178.1 ± 10.6 cm, 108.6 ± 27.9 kg, 12.6 ± 8.9 years general resistance training, 5.3 ± 5.0 years strongman implement training) completed a self-reported 4-page internet survey on tapering practices. Analysis by sex (male and female), age (≤30 and >30 years), body mass (≤105 and >105 kg), and competitive standard (local/regional amateur, national amateur and professional) was conducted. Eighty-seven percent (n = 396) of strongman athletes reported that they used a taper. Athletes stated that 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 that 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 used in the taper; and, poor tapering occurred when athletes trained too heavy/hard or had too short a taper. These 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 preactivation strategies strongman athletes use on competition day.

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