The Training and Tapering Practices of Highland Games Heavy Event Athletes

Paul W Winwood, Justin W L Keogh, S Kyle Travis, Ian Grieve, Hayden J Pritchard

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Winwood, PW, Keogh, JW, Travis, SK, Grieve, I, and Pritchard, HJ. The training and tapering practices of Highland Games heavy event athletes. J Strength Cond Res 38(3): e116-e124, 2024-This study provides the first empirical evidence of how Highland Games heavy event athletes train and taper for Highland Games competitions. Athletes (n = 169) (mean ± SD: age 40.8 ± 10.7 years, height 181.2 ± 9.5 cm, weight 107.2 ± 23.0 kg, 18.8 ± 10.3 years of general resistance training, and 8.1 ± 6.9 years of competitive Highland Games experience) completed a self-reported 4-page online survey on training and tapering practices. Analysis by sex (male and female) and competitive standard (local or regional, national, and international) was conducted. Seventy-eight percent (n = 132) of athletes reported that they used a taper. Athletes stated that their taper length was 5.2 ± 3.5 days, with the step (36%) and linear tapers (33%) being the most performed. Athletes reported that their highest training volume and intensity were 5.5 and 3.8 weeks out (respectively) from competition, and all training ceased 2.4 ± 1.4 days before competition. Training volume decreased during the taper by 34%. Athletes typically stated that, tapering was performed to achieve recovery, peak performance, and injury prevention; training intensity, frequency, and duration stayed the same or decreased; game-specific training increased with reductions in traditional exercises; the caber toss, weight for height, and heavy weight throw were performed further out from competition than other events; muscular power and strength were the most common types of training performed; static stretching, foam rolling, and massage were strategies used in the taper; and poor tapering occurred because of life/work circumstances, lack of sleep/rest, or training too heavy/hard. These results may aid Highland Games athletes to optimize training and tapering variables leading to improved performances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e116-e124
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


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