Supercompensation and adaption

I was always wondering how does the growth mechanism works and what can be done to make as much as possible from learning, training, living.

So that is how I faced the theory of supercompensation. The main idea of theory is that when you give your body some level of stress it will start preparing for next ‘stress session’ at the resting period. And there are three periods of resting that body has: 1) Recovery 2) Supercompensation 3) Involution.

Recovery period is time when body actively restores it’s functions after stress. It will not be a good idea to repeat training during this period. Body is not yet ready to face a new stress and result would be worse then at first training since the level of energy is lower. What can be done at this period? You can supply your body with the recovery fuel (healthy food, sleep, rest). That is the best action you can take.

Supercompensation period is time when body is not only fully recovered, but it is prepared a bit more energy to face same level of stress so that it would not be shocking like at first time. So at this period you have energy to give even more stress to your body! So here you can plan to have your training session and aim for better results.

But supercompensation phase will not last for ever. If you think that if you take bigger the time to rest then your ‘potential results’ will grow with it you’re making mistake. Your body is very progmatic thing and will loose it’s potential if you miss the supercompensation phase. Amount of energy prapared for overcoming stress was not used and there is no more need to keep it. This phase is called involution.

Okay, there is 3 phases that we need to be aware of: 1) Recovery — Focus on gaining energy 2) Supercompensation — focus on giving your body more stress then at first time, you have energy for that 3) Involution — You’ll need to start over again.

As you see the trick is to find the best recovery time to give your body new level of stress. It can be done in experimental way by playing with the recovery timings. You can try increasing or decreasing your recovery time after each training session to figure out if your results are growing or going down. One of the important points is that quality of your recovery should remain on same level — same diet, sleep hours etc.

So that is simple mechanics of growing. I tried to adopt it to other spheres of my life like work, reading, relationships and so on. And it…Works!

The main thing here is if you want to rest from activity you must absolutely inverse it. If you were working with information gathering and analyses your rest phase shall not include any information analyses. So basically if you’re coming from work and sit in front of TV you keep analysing everything that is shown there. So you do not actually rest and recovery phase does not start at all.

It is better to have a walk or to take any activity that will not fill your mind with new amount of information. At first time it would be a bit hard and painfull, but then you will be glad to take that kind of rest.

There is another theory that works almost the same way. It says that body adopts for stress and after some sessions it will take much less energy to handle with stress but the level of energy remains the same.

As for me it does not matter what to choose the main principles will remain the same:

  • Give yourself enough stress so that body will need to recover and gain energy again.
  • Wait until full recovery and then give yourself a bit more stress since you are ready for it.
  • Play with your recovery timings so that you could fit into supercompensation phase.


There is one more thing that is need to be said. You will gain fatigue if you keep on training with increasing stress level. At some point you will need to have a big recovery session. Dorian Yates once said in one of his interviews that he increases training weights during his trainings and at some point he is no longer able to add more weight. At this point he starts working out with the same intensity for a month and after it weights start to grow once again.

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