What is supercompensation - and why is it so important?

 

The human body is a wonderful ‘machine’. Instead of wearing down as a result of usage, it gets stronger, faster or gains endurance – depending on what kind of demands it faces. This phenomenon is known as the ‘SAID principle’, specific adaptation to imposed demands. How does this step-like progression happen in the context of strength training? Want to know how you can turn this tacit expert knowledge into better workout results? Read on!

Samir Abbassi overloading his muscles

Samir Abbassi overloading his muscles

First, the neuromuscular system needs to be overloaded. The body needs to be pushed beyond what it is accustomed to in normal activities. However, sometimes there can be a fine line between overload and overkill. That’s why monitoring recovery is such an important thing.

 

You should get weaker during training session!

A solid gym training session should result in an acute drop in strength levels. At least 10% drop is preferable. If you can jump up the gym stairs like a rabbit after your leg workout, I suggest you re-examine you program and training efforts.

Helena Kinnunen and acute training fatigue

Helena Kinnunen and acute training fatigue

So we all actually get weaker as an acute result to proper gym training. It’s only during the recovery process that your body starts to build itself stronger and bigger – in order to handle similar sessions better in a near future. Recovery from a workout can be split into two phases. The first phase is immediately after the workout, when strength levels can rise up close to the level, or even equal, prior to the workout. You can influence this phase by using recovery drinks or snacks before, during and after the workout. Proper hydration, carbohydrates and proteins will help your body to turn muscles into anabolic (muscle building) state after the exercise – instead of catabolic (muscle loss) state. Remember to enjoy a recovery drink or a snack immediately after a workout!

 

After the first or initial phase of recovery, strength levels often start to drop again. This happens due to muscle damage and inflammation caused by the previous training session. You can often feel this inflammation process as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (DOMS). In worst case of DOMS, your strength levels decrease by 30%, you are stiff as a board and you don’t feel any interest for training this body part. And you really shouldn’t, too. Now what that muscle needs is rest and nutrients – not another training session to recover from.

 

Little by little your body repairs this muscle damage. At the same time, the nervous system and endocrine system recover as well. As an end result, your body actually exceeds the previous level of performance. This is what supercompensation is about and how it works.

 

Optimal stimulus and optimal training frequency - the keys to supercompensation

The magnitude of training load and recovery time are two factors that make or break your progress. You basically have three options, which I have listed below. The first one of these is a great one –the one that you should aim for. Second and third are common mistakes that will lead to sub-optimal adaptation or, simply put, frustration and lack of progress.

Supercompensation in a nutshell

Supercompensation in a nutshell

 

Optimal stimulus and recovery time

1.     Optimal stimulus, optimal recovery. This is what we all shoot for. Strength and performance drop after a workout is within the optimal threshold and recovery time is just right. We hit the gym when our strength levels have risen above the pre-workout levels and then do a great workout again and so on. If all goes as planned, we get a little stronger and bigger workout by workout. But this is often easier said than done, particularly in case of a more experienced trainee.

 

End results: Great supercompensation. Continuous performance and muscle mass gains.

 

2.  Lack of stimulus and too much recovery. If you recover too long after training a certain muscle group, strength and muscle mass start to drift back to pre-workout levels. This is often the case when too rigid split programs allow too much recovery time between e.g. arm sessions.

 

End result: you’ll get nowhere, your performance can even decrease.

 

1.     Excessive stimulus and too short recovery. If you hit the muscle group hard before supercompensation has taken place – and you are still below pre-workout performance levels –  the dip in performance will only get bigger. If you continue to do this, your performance gradually gets weaker. This is often the case when a trainee does a whole body program too frequently or uses splits that don’t allow enough recovery for a particular muscle group. Also, if the total workload of your workout is too excessive, this may lead to maladaptation and exhaustion of nervous- and/or endocrine system.

 

End result: You get nowhere and there’s a big risk of overtraining syndrome.

 

Use RecoApp to optimize supercompensation

Home screen of the application

Home screen of the application

Recovery time is not always the same and may vary greatly depending on individual differences, training load, sleep, nutrition and stress levels. When using programs written in stone, you utilize very broad guidelines that are given us by strength training research and anecdotal evidence. This is better than nothing, but to really individualize and optimize your recovery process and to avoid frustrating plateaus or even overtraining, you need to monitor your individual responses to training. And that’s exactly that you can do with RecoApp Muscle Recovery.

 

Data analysis for your smart clothing

With the combination of smart clothes and our unique methodology you will gain both optimal stimulus and optimal recovery leading to the best supercompensation and results. You will always make the most of your workout without having to worry about the data analyzing.

RecoApp’s efficient, visually pleasant and quickly readable way of the data interpretation is a user-friendly experience. Smart clothing is a rapidly growing business and manufacturers need more efficient ways to interpret the data. RecoApp’s patent covers using an image of a human figure in a form of traffic light color coding for receiving and displaying optimal training information regarding muscle recovery times. Therefore it is a significant asset for smart clothing manufacturers to protect their smart clothing portfolio.

RecoApp has demonstrated the function of the patent through MVP mobile application. RecoApp's MVP has over 10 000 users.

Learn to listen to your body - and discover your ideal supercompensation times with the help of RecoApp. The U.S Patent Pending. Global PCT Patent Pending.

 Download RecoApp on the App Store

 

Writers

Timo Haikarainen, MSc, Finnish personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach.

Markus Mäntynen, the CEO and founder of RecoApp Oy.

 

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