An Overview of “Tapering” to Reach Your Training Goals

Ernesto Luciano-Perez, MD, of Virginia Orthopaedic & Spine Specialists

Ernesto Luciano-Perez, MD, Medical Director of Bon Secours Sports Medicine

Tapering can be defined as a technique of systematically decreasing training to facilitate a physiologic fitness peak.  The taper can be effective by manipulation of a number of variables such as training intensity, volume, duration and frequency of the exercise.

Athletes who commonly experience persistent deficits despite six weeks of relative rest have been classified as overtrained.  This is a common problem in up to 10% of endurance athletes on a yearly basis. This is usually a result of consistent increasing in the training load.

In order to be able to complete the expected goal during an event, the question becomes how the training load should be reduced and still be effective.  A number of studies have indicated that stopping training all together or long breaks in training can ruin the physical fitness and performance achieved during the period of training. In contrast, the maintenance of training intensity with a partial decrease in volume has led to improvements in power and up to a 6% decreasing in vo2 max.

The technique of systematically decreasing the training load to facilitate fitness peak is known as a taper. The taper can be managed by variables such as volume, duration, intensity and the frequency of the training.

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Dr. Ernesto Luciano-Perez is a Hampton Roads physician who specializes in Sports Medicine, Arthroscopic Surgery and General Orthopaedics. He received his board certification in 1993 from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Luciano-Perez’s affiliations and memberships include Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, Arthroscopy Association of North America, American Medical Association, Virginia Orthopaedic Society and Southern Orthopaedic Association.

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