Tapering and Peaking Maximal Strength for Powerlifting Performance: A Review

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Prior to major competitions, athletes often use a peaking protocol such as tapering or training cessation to improve performance. The majority of the current literature has focused on endurance-based sports such as swimming, cycling, and running to better understand how and when to taper or use training cessation to achieve the desired performance outcome. However, evidence regarding peaking protocols for strength and power athletes is lacking. Current limitations for peaking maximal strength is that many studies do not provide sufficient details for practitioners to use. Thus, when working with athletes such as powerlifters, weightlifters, throwers, and strongman competitors, practitioners must use trial and error to determine the best means for peaking rather than using an evidence-based protocol. More specifically, determining how to peak maximal strength using data derived from strength and power athletes has not been established. While powerlifting training (i.e., back squat, bench press, deadlift) is used by strength and power athletes up until the final days prior to a competition, understanding how to peak maximal strength relative to powerlifting performance is still unclear. Thus, the purpose of this study was to review the literature on tapering and training cessation practices relative to peaking powerlifting performance.