Tapering Practices of New Zealand's Elite Raw Powerlifters
Pritchard, HJ, Tod, DA, Barnes, MJ, Keogh, JW, and McGuigan, MR. Tapering practices of New Zealand's elite raw powerlifters. J Strength Cond Res 30(7): 1796–1804, 2016—The major aim of this study was to determine tapering strategies of elite powerlifters. Eleven New Zealand powerlifters (28.4 ± 7.0 years, best Wilks score of 431.9 ± 43.9 points) classified as elite were interviewed, using semistructured interviews, about their tapering strategies. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and content analyzed. Total training volume peaked 5.2 ± 1.7 weeks from competition while average training intensity (of 1 repetition maximum) peaked 1.9 ± 0.8 weeks from competition. During tapering, volume was reduced by 58.9 ± 8.4% while intensity was maintained (or slightly reduced) and the final weight training session was performed 3.7 ± 1.6 days out from competition. Participants generally stated that tapering was performed to achieve full recovery; that accessory work was removed around 2 weeks out from competition; and deadlifting takes longer to recover from than other lifts. Typically participants stated that trial and error, and changes based on “feel” were the sources of tapering strategies; equipment used and movements performed during tapering are the same as in competition; nutrition was manipulated during the taper (for weight cutting or performance aims); and poor tapering occurred when too long (1 week or more) was taken off training. These results suggest that athletes may benefit from continuing to strength train before important events with reduced volume and maintained intensity. Only exercises that directly assist sports performance should remain in the strength program during tapering, to assist with reductions in fatigue while maintaining/improving strength expression and performance.
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