Zaras, M., Stasinaki, A., Krase, A., Methenitis, S., Spengos, K., Karampatsos, G., Georgiadis, G., & Terzis, G. (2014). Effects of tapering with light vs. heavy loads on track and field throwing performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(5), Supplement abstract number 956.

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This study investigated the effects of power training with light- vs. heavy-resistance loads on the performance of young track and field throwers during the tapering phases of a double periodized training year. Throwers (M = 7; F = 6) participated in nine months of training including two phases of 14 days of resistance-exercise tapering during the winter and the spring competition periods. Ss performed the tapering with two different resistance training loads following a counterbalanced design: seven athletes used 30% 1-RM in the light-taper condition and six athletes used the 85% 1-RM in the heavy condition during the winter tapering. The opposite was performed during spring tapering. Before and after each tapering, throwing performance, 1-RM, vertical jumps, rate of force development, and vastus lateralis muscle architecture with ultrasonography were evaluated. Fatigue induced by each tapering method was estimated with a 0-10 Borg scale.

Throwing performance increased significantly by ~4.8% and ~5.6% after the light and heavy tapers, respectively. The group differences were not statistically significant. Leg press, 1-RM, and squat jump power increased more after the heavy taper compared to the light-taper condition. The heavy taper induced greater percentage increases in the rate of force development compared to the light condition, but the light taper induced significantly less fatigue. Muscle architecture was not altered after either condition.

Implication. Throwing performance increases similarly after tapering with light or heavy-resistance loads in young throwers. Changes in resistance-exercise performance factors occurred inconsistently in the two taper conditions. Reducing resistance-exercise work in the tapers of throwers is associated with performance enhancement. The value of performance suppression when training with resistance exercises needs to be questioned.

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