What Is Supercompensation?
We all want to see results for the hard work we put into training, whether at the gym, with a personal trainer, in a fitness class or as an athlete.
Understanding how the body responds to exercise is vital to reaching our fitness goals. While the long-term response can be explained by General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), the acute, short-term response is the subject of today’s blog on Supercompensation training.
What is GAS and Periodisation?
In an earlier blog on Periodisation: What it is and how to use it, we explained how this form of training can help with the issues of General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), to combat plateaus in training and ensure that clients continue to see results from their workouts.
Periodisation can be broken down into Macrocycles, Mesocycles and Microcycles, depending on the fitness goals of a personal trainer’s clients.
What is Supercompensation?
Supercompensation is the adaptive response of our bodies to a training programme. In other words, by training hard and getting your work-to-recovery balance right, you will achieve better results.
Each individual will have their own optimum level of exercise and recovery to increase their base fitness level over time.
The four phases of Supercompensation are:
Phase 1 – Lasts 1-2 hours following a workout. High stimulus results in fatigue.
Phase 2 – Lasts 1-2 days following a workout. Comprises physiological recovery and repair, possibly with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Rest or active recovery sessions plus good nutrition will promote a return to baseline fitness
Phase 3 – Lasts 1-3 days following a workout. Supercompensation occurs as the body adapts and prepares itself for the next challenge. Any DOMS will fade and energy levels will increase, along with positivity and optimism. A new stimulus applied now will return the client to Phase 1.
Phase 4 – Lasts 3-7 days following a workout. With no further stimulus, gains will gradually be lost, but once you increase your training, you will feel the benefits of Supercompensation again.
What does Supercompensation mean for your training?
Fitness does not stand still, we are either training towards Supercompensation or we are ‘detraining’.
To keep your fitness levels moving in the right direction and make all your training count, you need to get the right balance between training and recovery.
One of the jobs of a fitness professional or personal trainer is to ensure that each client is following the proper work-to-recovery ratio. One size does not fit all and a different training programme will need to be devised for each individual.
What else do I need to know about Supercompensation?
As well as the number of hours and days a week you spend training, the type of training is clearly going to have an impact on Supercompensation. Aerobic activity, such as running and cycling, will involve a regeneration process at a deeper level than shorter high-intensity anaerobic exercise, such as lifting weights.
To obtain the best results from Supercompensation, you need to ensure that:
- Your training is at a level to cause fatigue and overload
- The time you spend in recovery is long enough to allow adaptation
- Your dietary intake is at the right level to support both your training and recovery periods.