Tapering – recovery and maintenance at once

In the context of sports, tapering is the phase right before a competition, important event, or for example, in the case of a Free Athlete, Hell Week. This stage has been shown by science and sports, to allow the athlete to recover and prepare before the main event, so they are more likely to reach peak performance during it. Got a Hell Week coming up or a PB planned? Read more to discover what tapering is and how it could affect your performance.

Tapering - what’s that?

Tapering mainly focuses on decreasing the training load and serves the athlete’s recovery without negatively affecting the previous training adaptations. The tapering phase does not represent the phase where you peak in performance, but this rather takes place after your tapering phase where you’ll experience a maximum peak in performance. Sound pretty straightforward? Then let’s dive deeper into the topic.

How tapering works

The tapering phase usually occurs before an athlete faces an important competition or challenge. It is the ideal preparation phase before a desired peaking phase. In every sport, the length of a tapering phase differs, and can last from four days up to four weeks. As many studies have already shown, tapering has a positive impact on an individual athlete’s maximum performance during a competition. What’s really important to know is that the training load decreases. Load is calculated by volume x intensity. Within the tapering phase, the volume will be decreased, and the intensity increased. Studies have shown that reducing training volume by 60-90% will have the best effect on your performance. And overall, the training load should be reduced by about 30% to get perfect results.

Taking a break vs. tapering: why you shouldn’t stop altogether

Now for the most common question: why not  stop training completely and allow the body to rest? The simple answer is, no training at all would have bad effects on your maximum performance. This is due to the fact that through the positive adaptations of reduced, but highly intensive training, the abilities of your metabolism and the capacities of your contractile muscles have to be used at a later stage. Think of it like this: your metabolism and muscles are kept awake, but are also able to fully recover before going into the competition or challenge.

Tapering week in Freeletics Bodyweight

With the latest update and the integration of an even more intelligent Coach, as well as the periodization scheme, you’ll also experience training weeks that aim at maintaining your current fitness level whilst simultaneously allowing your muscles to recover. Especially before Hell Week, it is important to reduce the volume and increase the training intensity. With this, you can really show yourself and the community, just what you’re capable of when you’re up against the Gods.

Let’s recap

Tapering is a tool which allows the body to recover, maintain the adaptations made during previous weeks and months of training, and prepare to reach it’s peak performance. Tapering is often used before competitions or challenges and has been show through science and actual training, to have a great impact on the athlete’s performance at a specific time.


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