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This is the optimal cessation period before a competition for weightlifters, strongmen and powerlifters

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This is the optimal cessation period before a competition for weightlifters, strongmen and powerlifters

When powerlifters, strongmen or weightlifters are preparing for a competition, they will perform slightly better if they do not train a few days before that event. The optimal duration of such a cessation period is probably 4 days, conclude the authors of a human study that has been published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.


Study

When strength athletes take a few days off from the gym, their strength increases. That's why weightlifters and powerlifters often do not train the days just before a competition. Rest periods that last a week or longer may be detrimental for strength performance, we know from research. And that is about all that sports scientists can tell about this subject at the moment.

Hayden Pritchard, a New Zealand movement scientist who is affiliated with the Universal College of Learning, experimented with 8 experienced strength athletes to get more clarity about the optimal rest period.

Pritchard let the athletes train for 2 weeks in the same way, and then allowed them to rest for 3.5 days. He then determined how much power (actually: Newton per kilogram of body weight) the athletes could develop during a static deadlift (Mid-Tigh Pull) and a static bench pressure session (Isometric Bench Press). This was done with machines where the weights could not move; the test subjects did make maximum efforts however.

On another occasion, Pritchard repeated the procedure, but allowed his subjects to rest for 5.5 days.

A1 measurements before the training period of 2 weeks, A2 measurements after the training period, A3 measurements after a rest period of 3.5 days.

B1 measurements before the training period of 2 weeks, B2 measurements after the training period, B3 measurements after a rest period of 3.5 days.

Results

Both the rest period of 3.5 days and those of 5.5 days both led to a modest and identical increase of strength.

This is the optimal cessation period before a competition for weightlifters, strongmen and powerlifters

Both rest periods also made it possible for the subjects to jump a little higher

Conclusion

"Based on the current findings it is clear that short term training cessation could be used by strength and conditioning practitioners as an effective means of tapering to enhance expression of maximal strength", Pritchard wrote. "It is suggested that athletes take a minimum of two days, but no more than a week, off from training prior to an important event where maximal strength expression may be beneficial, with around four days appearing to be optimal."

"Strength and conditioning practitioners should also consider the athletes previous training, as harder training periods may warrant longer periods of training cessation prior to events."

"The findings also show that strength and conditioning coaches can design programs for their athletes where they may take short periods of time away from resistance training and be confident that athletes will maintain their previous levels of strength. Such a strategy could be applied as a planned recovery period in a training cycle, or when an athlete may have limited access to adequate training facilities."

Source:

J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Feb;32(2):458-65.

More:

Two weeks without strength training? Not a problem... 17.06.2017
Muscles built up from a lot of reps last longer when training stops 04.11.2009

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