TAPER SHOULD BE LOW VOLUME

Banister, E. W., Carter, J. B., & Zarkadas, P. C. (1999). Training theory and taper: Validation in triathlon athletes. ** European Journal of Applied Physiology, 79,** 182-191.

This paper combined both theory and cross-validation from a field experiment. Four different taper profiles: step reduction vs. exponential decay and fast vs. slow exponential decay were simulated in a training systems model for 28 days of training.

Simulation showed that an exponential taper was better than a step-reduction taper and a fast-exponential taper was better than a slow-exponential taper. Field trials tested the theoretical implications using male triathletes (N = 11) as Ss. The exponential taper was associated with greater improvements in cycle ergometry than the step-reduction taper, but not in a 5-Km run. A fast exponential taper was associated with greater improvements in cycle ergometry than a slow exponential taper, but not in a 5-km run. It was suggested that the volume and period of training were not great enough to produce a significant performance change in the 5-Km run.

The step-reduction taper reduced average training volume to 78%. The fast-exponential taper reduced average training volume to 35% and the slow-exponential taper reduced the average to 50%.

**Implications**. The practical quantification of a fast-exponential taper is difficult. However, it does imply that it is best to do the following over a 14-day period.

- Reduce the volume of training immediately at the commencement of a taper by about 50%.
- Continue reducing the volume of training to a final level where the day before competition there is virtually no training stimulus.
- The total training volume over the 14 days is about 35% of normal.
- The last three-four days have very little volume but are of similar amounts.
- The quality of training should always be competition specific.
- One should not be afraid of taking one or a few days off from training over the course of the taper.