Functional Overreaching: The Key to Peak Performance during the Taper?

American College of Sports Medicine
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise, 2014, 46 (9), pp. 176 - 1777
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Purpose: To examine whether performance supercompensation during taper is maximized in endurance athletes after experiencing overreaching during an overload training period. Methods: Thirty three trained male triathletes were assigned to either overload training (n = 23) or normal training groups (n = 10, CTL) during 8 weeks. Cycling performance and maximal oxygen uptake (V[spacing dot above]O2max) were measured after one-week of moderate training, a 3-week period of overload training and then each week during four-week taper. Results: Eleven of the 23 subjects from the overload training group were diagnosed as functionally overreached after the overload period (decreased performance with concomitant high perceived fatigue, F-OR), while the 12 other subjects were only acutely fatigued (no decrease in performance, AF). According to qualitative statistical analysis, the AF group demonstrated a small to large greater peak performance supercompensation than the F-OR group (2.6 +/- 1.1%) and the CTL group (2.6 +/- 1.6%). V[spacing dot above]O2max increased significantly from baseline at peak performance only in the CTL and AF groups. 60%, 83% and 73% of peak performances occurred within the two first weeks of taper in CTL, AF and OR, respectively. Ten cases of infection were reported during the study with higher prevalence in F-OR (70%) than in AF (20%) and CTL (10%). Conclusion: This study showed that 1) greater gains in performance and V[spacing dot above]O2max can be achieved when higher training load is prescribed before the taper but not in the presence of F-OR; 2) peak performance is not delayed during taper when heavy training loads are completed immediately prior; and 3) F-OR provides higher risk for training maladaptation, including increased infection risks.
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