Many of my posts talking about working out usually emphasize the importance of intensity. For good reasons of course, intensity brings the results you need and are looking for.
But, there comes a time when you need to slow down. It’s referred to as the taper.
What is tapering? Tapering is taking the last week or more before your event and tapering back on the workouts, the intensity. Tapering is a very important cycle in your training regiment in preparation for your event that allows you to train less, eat more and sleep more! Tapering will help you perform the way you want to perform in your event. It often gets overlooked as people generally think that they need to train hard all the way up to the event. Makes sense why we think this but this will do you more harm as you won’t be in peak performance shape.
Tapering allows the body to regain glycogen stores, repair any small damage that has been done to muscle and connective tissue. Enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones depleted during training are given the time needed to return to optimal ranges. Your immune system vastly improves too. Lastly, some studies have shown an improvement in performance of up to 3%. Tapering before your event sets you up to perform as best as you can. It sets you up so you are going into your event day feeling as best as you can too. Performance stress is not only on the physical level but also the mental level. You want to be sharp, confident, and feeling well, not foggy, shaky and feeling mentally fatigued.
Less can be more.
Tapering can be anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks before your event. During this period you will want to cut your training down to 20% – 30% less than what you would normally do on a high volume week. If your workouts are 5x a week, you would then drop down to 3 to 4 workouts a week. Also, that should be the same for intensity when it comes to resistance training. If for your event you are relying on your legs to help you get through it, I guess that’s pretty much anything thinking about it, you want your legs to be fresh. Cut down on any training that impacts the legs. Any leg work should be done solely for the purpose of dynamic stretching, cardio and mobility reasons. You can keep training upper body but be sure to drop the intensity level as you would not want to go into your event with any sore muscles.
Let’s look at tapering and nutrition. Even though I’m not a fan of supplementing it may be wise to err on the side of caution and ensure you are getting adequate protein levels to aid in the repair of soft tissue for that last week before your event. That’s it. That’s it if you are following a whole foods plant based diet. No need to worry about carb loading as you would already be consuming the high level of carbs you need.
Be sure to consume enough water. Peeing more than normal is better than being dehydrated for your event. Cut back on diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine.
Do these things and you might even notice that you have added a couple pounds to your body.
- 1 – 3 weeks before
- Do 20% – 30% less
- Eat more
- Sleep more
- Drink more water
- Keep moving, mobility is important
- No killing yourself in workouts
It seems counterintuitive to taper but embrace it. Your body has already made it’s adaptations weeks before and is ready to go. Maybe an experience of mine will illustrate that this works. Years ago when I was in the Navy I would travel back to my old home to visit my family twice a year. Previous to one of those trips I got heavily into body building, working out 6 days a week, 2 hours a day on a 3 day split program. I was a hard core gym rat. My trip home was just over 2 weeks long where I caught up with family and friends which meant a lot of relaxing, eating and no working out. When I returned back to the Navy my friends there couldn’t believe how much bigger I had gotten. That 2 week period was my taper even though I didn’t know it. My body had the time it needed to repair muscle tissue and add the muscle it needed to. When I was back and started to work out my performance levels also increased.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this. Implement a taper and use that extra time to relax, mentally prepare and I think you will be so much better going into your event than you would have otherwise.
Yours in health,