“Tapering” for resistance training 


Less is more!

Tapering is a strategically planned recovery period that occurs after a heavy training block and is often used prior to an athletic competition or at the start of a competitive season . There are several ways to execute a successful taper: Reduce training volume (reps x sets), take a complete rest from training, decrease workout intensity (load) or lessen training-day frequency. Endurance athletes have used tapering for years; now there’s evidence that exercise enthusiasts and strength and power athletes can benefit from tapering phases in their resistance training (RT) programs as well as recreational exercisers. And when it comes to RT, can less work lead to more success? Here’s what the research tells us.


Why should you Taper your exercise training?

Like competitive athletes, recreational exercisers and fitness enthusiasts may benefit from tapering phases, especially if they are training at a strenuous level throughout the year. They will not adapt if they become overstressed, and tapering may stimulate advancements in fitness by helping the neuromuscular system recover fully. Furthermore, researches are showing that tapering improves mood and frame of mind, which will help prevent psychological burnout and boost the quality of future training sessions. Importantly, the benefits extend beyond resistance training, several studies showing that tapering has led to performance gains for weightlifters, rowers, triathletes, cyclists, swimmers and runners.

Will Short-Term Rest Affect Long-Term Gains?

Some athletes may benefit from a complete cessation in training. Uniquely, discontinuous training (DT), which includes 1–3 weeks of complete rest in the middle of an exercise program, may be used as an extreme form of tapering. For example, in one study, researchers examined the effect of DT in 20 male participants with at least 1 year of RT experience. During the study, participants lifted for 4 weeks, stopped lifting for 2 weeks (i.e., tapered) and then continued training for 4 weeks after the tapering period. For volume and intensity, the researchers employed 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 75% of 1-RM for all exercises. Results indicated that the 2-week tapering period did not affect muscle size or strength, showing that experienced lifters can maintain their fitness while taking a break from their routines.



Some practical tips for designing an effective taper for exerciser’s individual needs:

Duration, Tapering phases are usually 1–2 weeks and should take place after a period of high-intensity and/or high-volume training. Tapering can also be used to transition between two phases of training within a program.

Intensity, If a principal training goal of the tapering period is to increase/maintain strength and power, it’s recommend to train in a range of 60%–85% of 1-RM. Setting the intensity too low (e.g., 30% of 1-RM) may not lead to the desired outcomes.

Volume, it’s recommended to reduce training volume by 30%–40% during a taper, although researchers have decreased volume by 70% in some studies without compromising neuromuscular performance.

Take away tip

Tapering in a Periodized Resistance Training Plan

Periodization is a systematic and logical training plan that allows fit pros to program for specific physiological outcomes and manage a client’s fatigue and recovery, Strength coaches for some sports employ a taper prior to a competitive season to allow fatigue to dissipate while fitness adaptations solidify. It has been shown that 1–2 weeks of tapering can improve strength, speed and power while reducing feelings of tiredness, depression and anxiety. You may experience similar benefits by incorporating a taper after a challenging training period. 


Q&A: What is the meaning of Tapering?

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