Zachariah J. Henderson


In an effort to create optimal performance, annual periodization is a part of an elite athlete’s training plan. More specifically, a “peak” or “taper” period prior to competition is often utilized in an effort to produce optimal performance. Despite its use and popularity, there is no common consensus on the optimal design or duration of a taper in endurance athletes. Thus, this paper examines the literature surrounding peaking and tapering in endurance athletes. Sixteen studies involving trained and elite endurance athletes were reviewed. These studies examined tapering using both short and long-term protocols, low- and high-volume, low- and high-intensity, and low- and high-frequency protocols. Despite the difference in study designs, the majority of studies reviewed showed a measurable benefit (2-8%) to peaking before competition for endurance athletes. In general, it appears that maintenance of training intensity while gradually reducing volume is a good base for developing a taper; however, it is not the only method of tapering that improves performance. Therefore, it appears that peaking and tapering should be prescribed and designed based on the specific athlete and situation.


Peaking; Tapering; Periodization; Endurance Athlete

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Copyright (c) 2016 Zachariah J. Henderson

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