Understanding Supercompensation to Avoid Overtraining


If the phrase supercompensation has you confused, don’t fear. You’re not alone. After 50 years of scientific examine, there may be nonetheless debate over apply the speculation. It’s simpler mentioned than executed. Here now we have simplified the science so you’ll be able to grasp the artwork.


Supercompensation is the speculation that after coaching, the physique recovers above and past pre-training health ranges. This adaptation is the essence of bodily coaching and permits us to enhance our health. 

Diagram supercompensation

4 steps within the Supercompensation Cycle

1.      Training

Whether tricep dips or triathlon, step one to enhancing health is coaching.

2.      Recovery

Training causes fatigue (e.g. dehydration, glycogen depletion, muscle micro-tears), which requires time for restoration.

3.      Supercompensation

Following coaching and restoration, the physique recovers past baseline (pre-training) health ranges in anticipation of future train.

4.      Detraining

Use it or lose it! Detraining is the pure decline in health that follows supercompensation. If no additional coaching takes place throughout the supercompensation section, the physique will return to pre-training health ranges.


Our our bodies are consistently aiming at equilibrium. This state of equilibrium is named homeostasis and is achieved by physiological processes that stabilize inner situations. Sweating, for instance, is a key course of that allows the physique to keep up a secure core temperature.

When we train, the coaching “stimulus” upsets the steadiness of homeostasis. After the coaching session, our our bodies get well to re-establish equilibrium. But if we solely ever recovered to pre-training ranges, we might by no means enhance.

The superb factor about our our bodies is that after train, we get well past pre-training ranges. This is supercompensation and it happens at each degree of our physiology, from muscle fiber dimension to mitochondrial density to glycogen storage.

In impact, your physique is being ready for the next degree of stress to the system. The physique does this in order that it might obtain equilibrium sooner, however the fascinating “by-product” is improved health.


Understanding supercompensation concept helps us to be strategic about when to exercise. The magic trick is to time coaching classes to coincide with peak health throughout the supercompensation section. In this fashion, health positive factors are gathered with every exercise.

This isn’t straightforward. As you’ll have skilled, consecutive exercises with too little restoration time in between can result in overtraining. Equally, in case you depart an excessive amount of time between exercises, the supercompensation impact is misplaced and your health gained’t enhance.

Imagine a citadel wall beneath assault. If the assaults are too frequent, the partitions will likely be destroyed. With time nonetheless, the partitions is not going to solely be rebuilt, however will likely be bolstered to defend in opposition to future assault. If an excessive amount of time passes and assault is now not anticipated, the reinforcements will likely be dismantled.

Remember, your health is in fixed flux. Without additional “stimulus” throughout the supercompensation section, the physique will start to lose health. (There’s no level constructing further muscle if it isn’t wanted to help regular exercise). This is the “use it or lose it” precept.


The purpose on your exercises is to govern coaching and restoration to maximise supercompensation. Bodybuilders use supercompensation for muscle bulk, ultrarunners for muscular endurance and coaches for precompetition tapering. Whatever your health aim, coaching for supercompensation can enhance outcomes.  

To make the most of the supercompensation impact most athletes plan their exercises in considered one of two methods.

1. The first includes planning coaching classes to coincide with the height of supercompensation from the earlier exercise, after full restoration

         +         Simple technique, much less prone to lead to overtraining

                   Supercompensation after every exercise is smaller and simpler to overlook

Diagram positive supercompensation

2. The second technique includes a collection of intently spaced exercises inflicting fatigue to build up. These exercises are adopted by an prolonged restoration interval which leads to an gathered supercompensation impact. Some athletes consider this purposeful overreaching methodology results in higher efficiency enhancements, although this isn’t all the time the case. [1]

         +         Potential for larger efficiency enhancements

                   Accumulated fatigue extra prone to lead to overtraining

Diagram positive accumulated supercompensation


Overtraining is an excessive state of fatigue or burnout that outcomes from extreme, gathered coaching load with insufficient restoration. It is outlined by long-term efficiency decrements lasting months and is usually known as “unexplained underperformance syndrome”. [2]

If you might be experiencing the next signs over a protracted interval regardless of relaxation, a clinician could diagnose overtraining syndrome.

  •         Fatigue
  •         Depression
  •         Demotivation
  •         Insomnia
  •         Anorexia
  •         Weight loss
  •         Irritability
  •         Agitation
  •         Lack of psychological focus
  •         Bradycardia (HR beneath 60 bpm)
  •         Tachycardia (HR above 100 bpm)
  •         Heavy, sore, stiff muscle mass
  •         Hypertension
  •         Anxiety
  •         Restlessness
  •         Awaking unrefreshed

Diagram negative supercompensation

Temporary efficiency decrements that consequence from gathered coaching load are outlined as overreaching. Where the lower in efficiency is lengthy lasting (a number of weeks), the situation is named non-functional overreaching (NFO). Although full-recovery remains to be potential, NFO leads to a lack of coaching time and is due to this fact destructive.

Functional overreaching nonetheless is a optimistic state the place gathered coaching load results in a brief time period lower in efficiency (days to weeks) adopted by supercompensation and efficiency enhancement. Many athletes purpose for purposeful overreaching to maximise the supercompensation impact.


So how do you time it proper? Unless you might be an elite athlete with a ardour for muscle biopsy, laboratory evaluation might be not an possibility.

Use these tricks to promote supercompensation and forestall overtraining.

1. Plan forward //

Plan your coaching for the weeks forward. Training microcycles (1-2 weeks) will assist you to prepare and get well extra successfully than spontaneous exercises.

2. DOMS //

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be utilized as an indicator of restoration. DOMS normally peaks between 24 and 72 hours relying on the train. Training with DOMS can restrict your coaching capability and delay restoration time. Wait for DOMS to enhance (or disappear) earlier than coaching once more to permit time for supercompensation. [3]

3. POMS //

The Profile of Mood States (POMS) check is an easy questionnaire that measures temper. You may give it a strive right here. Record your rating at common intervals that can assist you determine modifications in vigor or fatigue. If you are feeling motivated, relaxed and energized, you might be most likely prepared for a exercise!  Long-term destructive temper modifications could point out that restoration is required. This check ought to solely be used to help your judgement, not change it. Contact a professional clinician for skilled evaluation.

4. Heart fee //

Heart fee measurement is correct, accessible, and reasonably priced. Record your resting coronary heart fee (RHR) on the similar time every day to determine modifications over time. If RHR is constantly elevated, it’s best to relaxation and get well

5.  Work–life steadiness //

Factor in different sources of stress. Poor sleep and power stress can considerably sluggish bodily restoration and restrict the supercompensation impact. [4] [5]

6. 1:3 ratio //

The health results of a exercise final roughly 3 instances longer than the fatigue results. Once fatigue is gone, the remaining health results equal supercompensation. Use the 1:3 ratio to coach within the supercompensation “window”. [6]


Once you will have a base of coaching you might be conversant in – e.g. comfy weekly mileage or body weight exercises, strive a supercompensation microcycle (1-2 weeks). For this “super-block” freshmen ought to deal with enhancing depth or quantity, however not each on the similar time. For instance, a runner would possibly embody anaerobic threshold exercises or improve mileage by 20%. Either technique ought to present the stimulus wanted to reinforce health by supercompensation.

Remember, for regular development, weekly modifications of greater than 10% should not really helpful. This is a particular block of coaching which should be adopted by full restoration. Do not try to coach tougher if you’re sick or injured.

Many athletes prepare too laborious on relaxation days and hinder the supercompensation course of. Easy days needs to be straightforward! If consecutive exercises stress the identical physiological programs, e.g. tempo and threshold runs, fatigue will accumulate. In this case, restoration and supercompensation will take longer. Alternate between muscle teams and health areas to advertise restoration. 

Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all supercompensation technique. The supercompensation impact varies between people and based on the health part being educated. Experience will likely be your information as you study to steadiness load and restoration for optimum impact. As all the time, eat effectively, sleep effectively, prepare constantly and progress slowly. Let the positive factors start!

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