It may sound scary and complicated, but in truth, supercompensation training is probably something you’re already doing. The concept centres on how your body recovers after training, and timing your next workout to fall when your body is fully recovered and at its peak.
… maybe it’s easier to show you.
OK, so according to science, this is the general curve of how your body’s fitness levels change before, during, and after a training session. Supercompensation is the stage after recovery when your body’s performance actually peaks over its original baseline.
In a sense, your body has recovered so well that it’s actually better than it was before you exercised.
In time, your performance levels will return to the baseline level after supercompensation. The trick is to time your next training session during the supercompensation stage in order to trigger a sort of wave effect, steadily increasing the peaks of performance.
Does that make sense? Here’s a more detail/scientific breakdown of the four stages of supercompensation. This might make it clearer… but then again, it might not.
Stage 1. Training
The application of stress on the body in the form of training causes it to react in the form of fatigue or tiring. (If you don’t feel tired or fatigued after a training session then you are not working hard enough to put sufficient stress on the body and cause it to adapt.)
Performance is understandably lower directly after this. I mean, have you tried walking up a flight of stairs after leg day? You don’t move very fast, do you?
Stage 2. Recovery
When your body is in recovery your performance levels dip below their baseline levels. Continuing the example of climbing stairs after leg day, you’ll be slow immediately after your session AND the day(s) after while your body is recovering.
The recovery period allows time for the body’s energy stores to be repleated and performance levels to return to normal.
Stage 3. Supercompensation
This is known as the ‘adaptive rebound’ as your body recovers so well it actually overshoots and performance levels are higher than they were before you trained. This stage is often described as a rebound response as the body is essentially rebounding from the low point of greatest fatigue to its highest point of performance.
This supercompensation effect is both physical and psychological. Not only is your body stronger, but you feel awesome and are more prepared for your next session.
Stage 4. Decline
The body’s performance levels will naturally decline and return to their levels before your first workout if no training stress is applied. This is the so-called detraining phenomenon.
The trick is to time it so that your next gym session takes place at the peak of your supercompensation. This essentially establishes a new baseline and will repeat the training, recovery, and supercompensation stages from a new, higher starting point, creating a sort of upwards wave in performance over time.
Tracking your supercompensation curve
Everybody is different, taking different amounts of time to recover, and so everybody’s supercompensation curve is different.
Creatine phosphate levels will replenish almost immediately after training, while the glycogen-reloading process in muscles can take 24 hours or more. Protein synthesis can take hours or days to complete (according to someone called Olbrecht in 2000), and so working out your timings will involve a fair amount of trial and error.
Gauge your performance levels with 1, 2, and 3 days of recovery between sessions over a month or so and see which feels best. If there’s a noticeable difference, replicate that rest period for another month and track your performance meticulously to see if there’s a continuing upward trend.