A Theoretical Study of...

L. Thomas and T. Busso (2005). A theoretical study of taper characteristics to optimise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 37, 1615-1621.

Purpose: the aim of this study was to examine the training factors that could affect taper efficiency. Tha analysis was done using simulations from a nonlinear model of the training effects on performance giving an individual optimal daily training (ODT).
Methods: training responses were simulated using data from six subjects obtained in a previous training experiment (15-wk programme including 3 wk without training). Assuming first a steady state with training equal to ODT, the taper was simulated with various step training reductions up to 100% of previous training. Overload period (OT) was then featured by a 20% step increase in training during 28 d before taper. Finally, a taper with step reduction was compared with progressive reduction.
Results: the taper allowed performance gains if training was higher than a minimal level. The best perfrormance without OT preceding the taper was reached with a load reduction of 30.8+/-11.8% and a duration of 19.3+/-2.3 d. The best performance with OT preceding the taper was significanlty higher than without OT and was obtained with a significantly greater load reduction and duration, 39.3+/-9.9% and 28.0+/-5.1 d, respectively. The best performance with a progressive load reduction was significantly higher than with a step reduction only with OT before the taper (102.2+/-1.7 vs. 101.8+/-1.5% of performance with ODT).
Conclusion: greater training volume and/or intensity before the taper would allow higher performance gains, but would demand a greater reduction of the training load over a longer period. The results also pointed out the importance of training adaptations during the taper, in addition to fatigue dissipation.

Few problems with the study. (Those with the Vancouver 2004 DVD can refer to the graph about maximization of explosive power). To maximize training intensity, the volume of work must already have been maximized BEFOREHAND.


Not sure exactly which graph you are refering to. Do you mean the 2 graphs with training years vs Intensity/volume titled “Interplay of Volume and Intensity”?

To maximize training intensity, the volume of work must already have been maximized BEFOREHAND.
I guess the idea of from Right to Left could also be used to explain this arguement as well? Get the easiest gains first then switch focus.

Initially you want to milk gains from everywhere you can by increasing the athletes ability to perform more work in all areas (med ball, speed, weights, SE etc) but in the end you hit a wall because you begin to exceed the work capcity envelope of the athlete. If you can’t do more you the only option you have is to shift the focus of training somewhere. For the sprinter this must be towards the High Intensity areas… but as you do this you will soon find you overtrain this area (CNS) again so the only way to keep the focus on High Intensity again is to reduce the volume.

So it makes sense to maximise volume first and then switch focus to intensity rather than keep yo yoing back and forward between volume and intensity making it hard to track progress.

I think Charlie’s comment refers to both short (GPP) and long (years) term planning…