Overcompensation: What is it and how to use it

At the heart of training is the stress on the body: we put the body under tension, then we recover and get stronger. As the body adapts, it is necessary to increase the level of stress in order to become even stronger and faster than before. The body’s post-workout reaction to physical activity, when an athlete has increased performance, is called overcompensation.

We will tell you more about what supercompensation is and how to train for better fitness in our article.

What is overcompensation

It is one of the main fitness theories in sports science, helping to understand how the body responds to load, not only in endurance sports, but also when lifting weights to strengthen muscles. muscles. This principle was described by the Soviet biochemist Nikolai Yakovlev in the 50s of the last century.

Due to the training stimulus, the body not only recovers from the workload, but also tries to perform the same load more efficiently, striving for the constancy of the environment. This effect is called supercompensation and is the basic principle of improving fitness through exercise.

Being in the overcompensation phase, athletes perform in significant runs. At this time, they are restored to the maximum and are able to show the best result.

Supercompensation: what it is and how to use it

Why Muscles Grow

After exercise, the body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process in which muscle fibers fuse together to form new muscle protein filaments or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number, resulting in hypertrophy, or growth, of the muscles.

Muscle growth occurs whenever the rate of muscle protein synthesis exceeds the rate of its breakdown. However, this adaptation only occurs when you rest after exercise.

How quickly a person builds muscle is influenced by many factors, including genetics, estrogen and testosterone levels in the body. In addition, people have different body types, which also affects growth rate, regardless of biological sex.

It takes several weeks or months of constant activity and exercise before the changes in the muscles become noticeable.

Three mechanisms that make muscles grow:

  • muscle tension;
  • muscle damage;
  • metabolic stress.

At the heart of all natural muscle growth is the ability to constantly increase the load on the muscles. Such stress disrupts the homeostasis of the body, and the muscles, in turn, adapt.

muscle tension

To induce muscle growth, more stress must be applied than the muscles have previously adapted to. The main way is to do increasingly difficult workouts.

Muscle damage

If you’ve ever felt soreness after a workout, you have local muscle damage from the load. It triggers the release of inflammatory molecules and immune system cells that activate satellite cells to promote the growth of myofibrils (muscle cells).

metabolic stress

If you’ve ever felt a burning sensation from exercise, it was metabolic stress. Metabolic stress causes cells around muscles to swell, which promotes muscle growth without necessarily increasing muscle cell size.

This type of growth is known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and is one of the ways people can look bigger without gaining strength.

Overcompensation phases

As soon as the training is over, the first phase begins – recovery – during which the body regenerates the destroyed tissues and the amount of fluid in the body, returning to its original level of strength.

When the body reaches equilibrium and the loaded tissue regains its strength, the overcompensation phase begins. In this phase, the body continues the buildup of strength that began during the recovery phase and increases it beyond the starting point. Thus the form grows.

To keep growing, it’s important to get the right mix of work and rest, gradually increasing your training volume/intensity from the plateau you’re currently on to the next higher plateau.

The time that will elapse before the body completes recovery and enters the overcompensation phase depends on many factors, one of which is current physical fitness. Therefore, it is impossible to give a general and universal idea of ​​the frequency and intensity of training required and recovery time.
Supercompensation: what it is and how to use it

Tissue is restored and strengthened at different rates:

  • muscles: 2 to 3 weeks after the start of training, an increase in the strength of muscle tissue can be measured;
  • bones: after about 3 months, the bones develop at the same level as the muscles;
  • Tendons: after about 6 to 9 months, the tendons grow to the same level as the muscles.

As you can see, training has different effects on tissues. While muscles recover quickly and adapt to stress, bones and tendons take longer. This is why most running injuries involve tendons.

In general, the duration of recovery and the achievement of maximum performance are influenced by variables:

  • compliance with the regime;
  • body mass;
  • physical education;
  • stress levels during exercise.

It is important to feel the overcompensation phase and not miss a practice or competition at this time so that the results do not drop to the previous level.

The third phase is a gradual return to the original performance level, if training has been stopped. However, the next time you return to training, your fitness might be slightly better than it was before the very first workout.

Good to know: Krepatura: why muscles hurt after a workout

What happens if you don’t follow the recovery phase

The most important element of the training process is the recovery cycle. If you start an intense workout when the body has not yet recovered from the previous one, the fitness level may drop below the mark it was at during the last workout.

In this case, if you regularly train too hard, sooner or later negative overcompensation will set in, followed by overtraining and eventually injury.

This is why it is important not to neglect recovery in order to improve rather than deteriorate your physical condition. To give the body the opportunity to replenish its strength, between training sessions you need to go from 24 to 72 hours. The best approach here is to pay attention to the body’s signals.

If the rest periods between sessions are too long, the effect of overcompensation is reduced and the form returns to its original level. Experts recommend loading the body for 2-3 weeks, then giving a week to recover, when the volume and intensity of training is halved.

Super compensation in running and endurance sports

The problem is that if you follow the rules of overcompensation, when the body needs 2-3 days to recover, the athlete can do no more than four workouts per week. This is acceptable for the entry level, but in endurance and elite sports the principle of summation of loads is used,

This principle consists in accumulating the fatigue of several training sessions. Full recovery occurs after reaching a certain level of full charge.

Therefore, often in endurance sports, athletes are in the overcompensation phase for a relatively short time. The period during which they are not fully restored can be quite long.

So recovery after a maxVO2 run can take 8-10 days, and after a tempo run it will take about four days. Recovery after a long run takes the longest.

Remember these three rules to correctly build a balance between workload and rest:

  1. If the next training takes place during the recovery period, overtraining may occur.
  2. If the workout falls during the overcompensation period, the body will transition to a higher level of fitness.
  3. If the training takes place after a period of overcompensation, the body remains at a baseline.

Getting stronger and faster is only possible when strenuous workouts alternate with adequate and sufficient recovery. This is the secret of good physical shape and good results.