Overtraining and Super Compensation

Remember back to when you first started training, this may be in the weight room at your local gym or perhaps you were very young for a particular sport. It was great to see your performance advance so quickly in what seemed like a short amount of time. Lifting those weights became more effortless, you could run faster and further without being as exhausted and your muscles were showing.

Training became something you looked forward to … you were addicted! The adrenal addiction you obtain from training is quite strong, so strong that you may become depressed if you don’t train. However what is a healthy training regime? We aren’t really taught this, it’s something we learn ourselves through trial yet overtraining is a big reason why many people don’t reach their goals and injure themselves.

What is overtraining? I’m sure we have all felt the pain from a big leg day at gym, up and back 100m sprints at footy or the lethargy from just a general big week pushing our bodies but when do we start to be counterproductive? Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS as it’s referred to, is quite popular and is a fairly positive sign you have torn your muscle enough to facilitate some sort of growth, providing your nutrition and supplementation is on track. Why do we still push through that pain though and is it productive to do so?

There are many scientific studies on the matter and I could go into all detail about energy systems and creatine levels etc but for today let’s keep it simple. Super compensation is a 4 stage process, firstly you have the training stimulus which is loading stress and your body’s subsequent reaction to it, which can be the fatigue or tiring and your performance then drops off and you stop or go home. Secondly you have the recovery phase which may be a light session or just active recovery and stretch. After your recovery your body’s energy stores should return to baseline where they were before original training stimulus.

Then we have Super compensation phase, this phase is the adaption where we bounce above baseline due to your body rebounding from the fatigue encountered during training. This is where we can lace up our boots, throw our gym gear on and get stuck back in again for maximum results. If we don’t apply the stimulus of training then we will hit the fourth phase which is … Loss of super compensation effect. This will occur when we don’t apply any training stress for a sustained period of time and there will be a decline in strength and performance.

Now you ask how much time do I need to super compensate? Great question and one that is very particular to you, your training regime, intensity, type and frequency. You have to use a bit of trial and error here. If you train legs on a Monday and you are training hard to the point you can’t perform a body weight squat at the end it is likely you won’t FULLY recover for over a week. You may still feel soreness after a week so it is advisable not to train legs again… listen to your body. Some people go by the rule “just warm up get moving and you will be fine” You may be fine to workout sure… however are you REALLY going to do better than your last session? After all we are after ENHANCED performance here.

Physical qualities of your body respond at different rates and this can all vary dependant on your nutritional intake and rest. If you are training with great intensity but also eating immaculately for that performance whilst resting adequately then you may feel great within a day or 2. The big message we are trying to get across here is don’t train for the sake of training. If you walk into the gym and sigh while thinking about your workout it might be time to re think ….you are possibly overtraining.

I have been in this state before where my body is absolutely flogged but I drive myself to train again…. just because. It isn’t healthy and most of all isn’t beneficial to your goals and more importantly your body. Decreased performance in gym will equate to decreased performance in life. To many times I read of people saying I have to train this many times and have to do it for this long. You probably don’t.

Take a day off, keep nourishing your body and remain active (walk, ride, stretch) get some sleep and reap the benefits. Often after an intense regime leading up to a particular event our bodies are absolutely shot due to the extreme amount of stress we put on them. Remember to super compensate and when you are pumped and excited then it’s time to shift that iron and pump your legs.


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