The art of tapering

If you’ve got a big sportive, race or century ride in your sights this summer, now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to prepare for the event. One aspect of training, which is often underestimated, especially in the lead up to big events like a century ride, is tapering. The experts at Wattbike are here to offer some advice on what tapering is, why you need it and how to do it.

What is tapering?

Tapering is the practice of reducing training in the days leading up to an important competition or event. For endurance events, tapering starts around two to four weeks ahead of the event.

Why taper?

There are many benefits to tapering your training in the lead up to a big event – just a few are listed below:

Helps you peak at the right time

Tapering after a hard phase of training and before a big event ensures your muscles are well recovered and you’re feeling fresh, while ensuring you don’t lose form by training too little.

Gives your body time to rest and recover

As we mentioned in a previous article, it’s important to let your body rest and recover. Tapering helps your body recover so you don’t get to the start line with tired legs.

How to taper

Whichever training plan you have been following, there are three main methods of tapering you can try:

Ride less

Simply reduce the number of days on which you train, but keep the intensity and duration of sessions the same. Be careful not to reduce your training too much, you should be aiming for around one extra rest day.

Reduce intensity

If you’ve been training in higher, more intense training zones, bring the intensity back down to zone two and below. Do this in the final week to ensure fitness levels don’t drop too much.

Reduce volume

If you’re training outdoors, reduce the number of miles you’re riding each day, you should be aiming for around a 50 per cent reduction in miles. If you want to make sure you’re feeling fresh and ready when you reach the start line, be sure to add some tapering to your training plan.