Hevy Coach

Log In

Tapering Training: Definition and Benefits

What is Tapering Training?

Tapering is a training strategy used before a competition in which athletes reduce their training volume while continuing to train as frequently and maintaining the same intensity. This reduces accumulated fatigue while allowing athletes to maintain positive adaptations (e.g., strength, power, or endurance) to perform at their best on competition day. 

A Deeper Look at Tapering Training

Depending on the athlete and the sport they compete in, there are multiple ways to apply a taper. For example, a runner preparing for a race (be it a 5K, marathon, or ultra-marathon) might reduce their weekly mileage by 20 to 30% while continuing to run as frequently and at the same pace. 

If the runner gradually works up to 40 miles weekly, they might drop to 28-32 miles for the last three weeks to reduce fatigue and resolve nagging aches that might have come up. 

It would also make sense to cut or limit cross-training during that time to avoid unnecessary fatigue. For instance, if the runner also does weight training, they could reduce it drastically for the last three to four weeks before the race.

Powerlifting is another example where tapering works exceptionally well. Here, the goal would be to maintain the same high intensity and continue to train as frequently but reduce the overall training volume.

One common approach is the 100-90-50 peaking protocol: 100% of the frequency, 90% of the usual intensity, and 50% of the total work done.

The result? Fatigue drops, nagging aches go away, motivation skyrockets and the strength athlete is in a far better position to perform optimally on competition day.

How Does Tapering Work?

At first glance, reducing the difficulty of training might seem like a losing strategy. After all, how is less work going to produce better results?

It all boils down to two things: adaptation and fatigue management. 

First, athletes prepare for a competition for months or even longer than a year. During that time, their fitness levels improve, but that also leads to fatigue. The more demanding the training approach, the more tired athletes get. Plus, that also invites the possibility of muscle stiffness and aches.

If athletes put near-maximal effort into their training leading up to the competition, they would be more tired and less able to perform.

But, when applied correctly, a taper allows the athlete to maintain their fitness adaptations and limit fatigue. This results in supercompensation and peak performance when it matters most. 


1. Why is tapering important for athletes?

Tapering is vital because it helps athletes reduce fatigue before competition day while maintaining their fitness level, resulting in more motivation to compete and better performance.

2. How long should a taper last?

Tapers are highly individual and depend on an athlete’s training and fatigue. However, a good range to aim for is one to three weeks before a competition.

3. What are some signs of an effective taper?

An athlete running an effective taper will typically perform better than before, have more energy, be more eager to compete, and experience fewer chronic aches associated with their sport.

Try Hevy Coach

Easy to use personal trainer software with an amazing client experience.

Related Terms in Recovery and Overtraining Category