The goal of any athlete is to achieve the best possible performance on the day of a test or competition. To achieve this, several studies have shown that the six weeks prior to the competition are crucial, and have validated a method of preparation and recovery that acts on fitness training parameters such as volume, intensity, and frequency.
After a so-called standard training phase, the athlete will go through two final phases; the first is training the body to high loads (overreaching), the second allows the body to recover and sharpen for the event (tapering).
This is one of the key points of the strategy we will apply together during our personal fitness training sessions in Berlin.
The three phases of pre-competition sports and fitness training:
The optimal scheme implemented in all sports training to ensure that the athlete is at the top of his or her form on the day of a major competition includes three phases of training:
« Normal » training phase: These are standard training weeks, with the usual variations due to the periodization of the training, according to the coach’s planning, who will schedule training in order to achieve the necessary objectives to reach the goals set with the athlete.
Overreaching: This is the last phase of sustained training. The goal of this training phase is to reach the athlete’s peak performance by imposing a load that is 20% higher than the usual training load by imposing the stimuli (training frequency, duration, intensity, number of repetitions…) necessary for the physiological, muscular and technical adaptations desired to reach the objectives. The duration and the “content” of this phase depend on the sport, the level of practice, and the time available before the sporting event. According to studies, the optimum duration of this period is 15 to 20 days.
Tapering: It is during this phase that the decision is made whether the peak of fitness will be reached on the day. It is described in detail in the following lines.
Studies showing the effectiveness of this method have been carried out on athletes of all levels and different sports. It was therefore concluded that it can be applied to all sports, is independent of the athlete’s level and gender, and can therefore be applied by all athletes wishing to prepare for an important event.
What is tapering? How would we implement it in your personal fitness training sessions together?
The ultimate and main objective of tapering is to optimize performance in competition.
Most studies that have dealt with this aspect have reported significant improvements in performance in multiple sports such as swimming, cycling, rowing, and triathlon.
This is the period prior to the competition or major event for the athlete; its main objective is to decrease training fatigue, maximize physiological adaptations (adaptations of the body to training, increase its capacities) and, consequently, the athlete’s performance on the day of the competition or event.
How to set it up during your different personal training phases?
The first factor of tapering will be the reduction of the training load.
This can vary in its duration and can be obtained by multiple modifications of the athlete’s training program, reducing the frequency, volume, and/or intensity of the solicitations. It is important for the coach to follow the athlete to determine how the training load should be reduced to optimize recovery in order to maintain or improve training response and sports performance. This work will be individualized, depending on the athlete, their sport, and their goal.
We will, together during your personal training with me, follows the recommendations from sport sciences studies, as follows: The best strategy that emerges from the various studies to optimize performance is a tapering period of 8 to 14 days (14 days would be the limit before reaching a negative aspect of tapering, which would lead the athlete to destraining, and therefore a reduction in performance during competition), during which the volume of training is exponentially lowered by 41 to 60%, without any change in training intensity or frequency.
In addition, it has also been found that an increase in training load of 20-30% during the last three days of the sharpening phase would not compromise fatigue reduction and may even benefit performance by promoting additional adaptations.
That your next sports event is in Berlin or wherever else, I will make sure to follow you and includes this training period in your designed personal training program, so you will be ready and get the best out of your training sessions with me.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me by email or by phone.
1- « Améliorer sa récupération en sport » par Christophe Hausswirth— Librairies INSEP
2- « Effects of Tapering on Performance: A Meta-Analysis » — LAURENT BOSQUET1,2, JONATHAN MONTPETIT1, DENIS ARVISAIS1, and IN ̃ IGO MUJIKA3,4
1Department of Kinesiology, University of Montreal, Montreal, CANADA; 2Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Lille, Ronchin, FRANCE; 3Department of Research and Development, Athletic Club Bilbao, Lezama, SPAIN; and 4Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Odontology, University of the Basque Country, A ́lava, SPAIN