Tapering: Optimising Performance Through Strategic Rest

Lachlan Moriarty explores what tapering is, why it is important, and the correct methodology for effectively tapering your clients.

In the world of sports and fitness, achieving peak performance isn’t just about intense training sessions and pushing the body to its limits. Equally crucial is the concept of tapering – a strategic reduction in training intensity and volume leading up to a competition or a significant event.

Tapering is not merely a period of rest; it is a carefully planned approach that allows the body to recover, repair, and ultimately peak at the right moment. With the rising popularity of public fitness events, tapering is a tool that any client (athlete) can benefit from.

In this article, we explore the relevance of tapering in training programs and how it can be effectively used to maximise the benefits for your clients.

The Importance of Tapering

Tapering serves as the final piece of the puzzle in a client’s preparation for a competition or event. The human body is a complex system, and prolonged periods of intense training can lead to accumulated fatigue, both physically and mentally. Tapering provides the necessary time for the body to adapt and super-compensate, leading to improved strength, power, and endurance.

One of the primary benefits of tapering is the restoration of glycogen stores in the muscles. During intense training, glycogen, the body’s primary energy source, is depleted. Tapering allows for increased carbohydrate intake, promoting optimal glycogen storage and ensuring the body has the energy reserves required for peak performance.

Structuring the Taper

Tapering is not a one-size-fits-all approach; its effectiveness depends on various factors, including the athlete's sport, training history, and the specific demands of the upcoming event. However, there are general principles that can guide the structure of an effective taper.


Tapering typically lasts between one to three weeks, with the exact duration depending on factors such as the athlete's fitness level and the intensity and duration of the preceding training block. Shorter tapers may be suitable for endurance athletes, while strength and power athletes may benefit from a more extended taper.

Intensity Reduction

The key to effective tapering lies in the gradual reduction of training intensity while maintaining some level of activity. This doesn't mean complete rest; instead, it involves a decrease in volume and intensity to allow for recovery without detraining. For example, an athlete might reduce the number of sets and reps or incorporate more low-intensity activities like light jogging or swimming.

Maintaining Skill and Technique

It's essential to preserve the neuromuscular adaptations gained during the training phase. Athletes should continue to engage in skill-specific drills and maintain technique during the taper to prevent detraining effects on coordination and motor skills.

Nutritional Considerations

As the training load decreases, adjustments to nutrition become crucial. Carbohydrate intake should be optimized to replenish glycogen stores, and protein intake should remain high to support muscle repair and maintenance. Adequate hydration is also paramount.

Mental Preparation

Tapering isn't just about physical recovery; it's also an opportunity for mental rejuvenation. Athletes often experience a range of emotions during intense training phases, and tapering allows for a mental reset. Visualization techniques and mindfulness practices can be incorporated to maintain focus and confidence.

Tapering is a vital component of any comprehensive training program, playing a pivotal role in optimizing performance and preventing burnout. Clients/athletes and coaches must recognise the individualised nature of tapering, ensuring it meets the specific needs of the athlete and the demands of the upcoming event.

When executed correctly, tapering transforms the culmination of weeks or months of hard work into a peak performance, showcasing the incredible potential of a well-rested and finely-tuned body and mind.


Lachlan Moriarty

Lachlan is a Trainer/Assessor at Fit Education, an RTO that specialises in the delivery of fitness qualifications. Lachlan has a Bachelor in Exercise Science and enjoys using his knowledge to help people through their fitness journeys.