Characterizing the Tapering Practices of United States and Canadian Raw Powerlifters

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Travis, SK, Pritchard, HJ, Mujika, I, Gentles, JA, Stone, MH, and Bazyler, CD. Characterizing the tapering practices of United States and Canadian raw powerlifters. J Strength Cond Res 35(12S): S26-S35, 2021-The purpose of this study was to characterize the tapering practices used by North American powerlifters. A total of 364 powerlifters completed a 41-item survey encompassing demographics, general training, general tapering, and specific tapering practices. Nonparametric statistics were used to assess sex (male and female), competition level (regional/provincial, national, and international), and competition lift (squat, bench press, and deadlift). The highest training volume most frequently took place 5-8 weeks before competition, whereas the highest training intensity was completed 2 weeks before competition. A step taper was primarily used over 7-10 days while decreasing the training volume by 41-50% with varied intensity. The final heavy (>85% 1 repetition maximum [1RM]) back squat and deadlift sessions were completed 7-10 days before competition, whereas the final heavy bench press session was completed <7 days before competition. Final heavy lifts were completed at 90.0-92.5% 1RM but reduced to 75-80% 1RM for back squat and bench press and 70-75% for deadlift during the final training session of each lift. Set and repetition schemes during the taper varied between lifts with most frequent reports of 3 × 2, 3 × 3, and 3 × 1 for back squat, bench press, and deadlift, respectively. Training cessation durations before competition varied between deadlift (5.8 ± 2.5 days), back squat (4.1 ± 1.9 days), and bench press (3.9 ± 1.8 days). Complete training cessation was implemented 2.8 ± 1.1 days before competition and varied between sex and competition level. These findings provide novel insights into the tapering practices of North American powerlifters and can be used to inform powerlifting coaches and athlete's tapering decisions.