The Translational Taper
During the fluctuating increases in intensity and volume at the beginning of the targeted training cycle, the level of skill (ADL-simulated) training is very low. Look at the patterns of decline in each component in figure 9.8 as the transition takes place from the targeted training phase to the translation phase. The rapid decreases in intensity and volume are known to athletes as a taper. This taper allows significant recovery, maximization of the fitness effect, and supercompensation. It also allows us to switch our concentration from fitness to skill training.
So what’s the best way to taper? In a review paper on the topic, Inigo Mujika and Sabino Padilla (2003) presented the common patterns of taper and examined their effectiveness. These authors looked at three major factors: (1) the duration of the taper, (2) the volume decline during the taper, and (3) the optimal pattern to use for the taper. Although the duration of the taper producing the best performance varied due to the nature of the activity and the training status of the participant, the average length was 2 weeks. Individuals using longer durations of training or very high intensities required longer tapers than individuals training at a more moderate level. Additionally, well-conditioned individuals responded more quickly to a taper when compared with individuals at a lower level of conditioning. For older clients, there is clear evidence that recovery takes longer for older versus younger athletes, all other things being equal. But since all things aren’t equal, and older clients often work at considerably lower levels than a young athlete works at, a 2-week taper is recommended.