A Week ‘Til the Race: Tapering for Maximum Performance

Active young bikers with safety gears cycling on urban roadThe big race is coming up – are you ready?

When you hit the starting line, you want to be alert, hydrated and ready to ride. What’s your regimen for the week leading up, though? You don’t want to go so hard that you aren’t at 100 percent come race time, but you don’t want to neglect riding either. Here are some tips to guide you through the week before the race so you’ll be ready to go.

Tapering for the Race

According to researchers at Ball State University in Indiana, tapering before a race brings about an improvement of 4 percent in your performance. A combined study from several Canadian universities found that cutting training volume by 50 percent for one week led to consistently better performance in time trials, sometimes shaving minutes off a cyclist’s race time.

But tapering is not an exact science and will have different effects on different people. Use these guidelines from the University of Lille in France to structure a tapering plan that is best for you.

  1. The best results in tapering were achieved when cyclists reduced the volume of their training to between 40 and 60 percent, depending on the ferocity of your previous training.
  2. Reduce your training frequency by a maximum of 20 percent.
  3. This is a big one – maintain intensity. This helps ensure that your fitness levels don’t suffer a dramatic drop. Don’t go overboard just because you’re training less frequently; this can damage your muscles and lower your performance.


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