Physical Preparation Resources

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Before a major competition, it is important for an athlete to be at an optimal state which includes tapering the normal training program. Tapering is a systematic and progressive decrease in the training load of the athlete’s program, and it has three general types;

  • Linear taper: this includes a gradual linear descension of the training load
  • Exponential taper: the exponential taper is a gradual decrease in an exponential manner, and it has two categories; slow decay and fast decay
  • Step taper: this is an abrupt decrease in the training load which remains stable throughout the tapering period.

When altering a training program, there are factors to consider such as the duration of the taper alongside the frequency, intensity, and volume of the training load.

In highly trained individuals, the intensity and frequency of a training program are typically maintained to preserve the physiological and technical adaptations that have been achieved. The volume however, is reduced by 41% to 60% on average and can climb up to 95% depending on the sport.

Tapers can last from 4 days to 5 weeks depending on the needs of the athlete or sport. When done properly, muscle damage repair, power, and strength are significantly increased. The improvements go beyond physical properties and athletes also experience psychological changes such as a lower RPE, more quality sleep, and an enhanced mood.

Learning and growing as an athlete is a continuous process throughout our lives, and part of that process is understanding of what our bodies can do (or not). Early on in our athletic careers, we realize that going all-out in every training session is not sustainable or beneficial for long-term goals and results.

To gauge how difficult a training session was, we can use a rating of perceived exertion scale (RPE), which is usually numbered 0-10 or 6-20 with lower numbers indicating an easier session.If you ask someone new to exercise how they would rate a session, chances are they will be off the mark with how challenging a session was compared to their true capacity. As they get exposed to more training sessions, some easier and some harder, their knowledge of where that given training session lands is more precise since they have a larger “library” of past training experiences to help them gauge.As an athlete, you already have a very large base of how to gauge your workouts, but the precision of your RPE rating is more important than the average exerciser. Your coach is responsible for reviewing your sessions and making sure they are hitting the mark for intended difficulty and making sure you don’t overtrain or get injured.

This pdf Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) can help you with that precision piece, and as an athlete we are sure that you will keep refining your understanding of what makes a workout easy or challenging for you as you grow in your athletic career.


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