If you have a significant season goal in front of you, a proper tapering protocol can supercharge your cycling performance. Unfortunately, even though this is not breaking news, many cyclists don’t benefit (enough) from tapering.
In most cases, people train hard and have an extensive training volume until one week before their season goal. After one week of reduced training volume, your performance will increase, and you may believe that you’ve done everything right.
Advanced tapering protocol for a cycling race
However, if you’ve trained structured for months before a single prioritized race, you’ll probably benefit from a more extended period of gradually reduced training volume. This is because when you have accumulated stress (progressive overload), it takes longer than just seven days to recover.
Some riders can benefit from up to 4 weeks of tapering and still perform better.
Have a look at the illustration below:
As you can see in the illustration, performance goes up for each week of tapering. And you’ll reach a higher level of performance than with only one week of recovery.
Please don’t focus too much on the numbers. They are only to illustrate my points: Two weeks of tapering is most often better than just one week of tapering, and adding another two weeks with slightly reduced training volume may further improve your performance. As I said: you can minimize training volume for a month without compromising your performance.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that we are all different. What works for one athlete may not have the same effects on another. So if you already have a tapering protocol that works, there is no need to make significant changes. However, if you prefer to use only one week of recovery before primary season goals, you may find inspiration in this article. Maybe you should try to add one week of extra tapering before your next important race.
I have used the principles discussed above in my e-book ‘Time Effective Cycling Training,’ where you’ll find a complete 16-week training program with a tapering protocol for a vital season goal.
The following article will discuss some of the principles I recommend for interval training during tapering. Stay tuned!