The Secret to Super Compensation: Are You Making These 3 Training Mistakes?
Super compensation, regeneration, training – do you know the definition?
It is possible that there will be no progress if you do not know this background. Or ignore it as I did a few years ago.
We’re changing that now.
In this article, you will learn:
- What do the terms training, recovery, and super compensation really mean (Warning: most people have a different understanding of what they mean!)
- Why you don’t get faster, stronger, and more efficient through training alone?
- Why Exercising Too Frequently Can Lead To Muscle Loss And Poor Endurance (And What You Can Do About It).
- What is the rationale behind any exercise program that really works?
Attention: This is about basic knowledge. Only if you have this basic knowledge can you really understand how you “produce” training success – and that measurably. It is a requirement to achieve your physical goals.
Alright, let’s get started right away.
What is training?
When you have a goal, you want to change and achieve more. Get fitter, leaner, bigger, faster.
Change happens outside of your comfort zone.
The elementary processes in our body that we want to trigger through our training are based on new impulses – the training stimulus.
Training is mental training.
Training has not only a physical but also a psychological aspect: You will only do the training that you have already done before your inner eye.
These processes usually take place subconsciously.
This mental aspect is often completely overlooked. That’s why it’s right at the top for me: The “M” of the MBSC formula.
Many who are successful in training automatically think the right thing.
They can motivate themselves to exercise and find it easy to set the right training stimulus.
Others imagine the training to be particularly painful and see themselves failing – this also affects their training success.
I go into more detail on these points of your “inner world” in the motivation section of many articles. The focus here is on the physical mechanisms.
Training is physical training.
Your body adapts incredibly quickly to external stimuli.
The physical element of change is super-compensation, triggered by the training stimulus.
This principle of attraction and adaptation characterizes all living beings. It distinguishes us from machines.
Your knee joint only stays lubricated when you move it. Anyone who has worn a plaster cast for a long time knows that your knee gets stiff if you don’t move it.
You only build muscles if you continuously challenge them. If you don’t stress your muscles, they can quickly atrophy.
What makes your training successful?
Training is nothing more than a constant alternation of loading and unloading your organism.
Your body responds by maintaining, adapting, and – hopefully – improving its structure and performance accordingly.
A key element in this adaptation process is often overlooked: recovery or regeneration.
Every stress must be followed by a period of rest and relief because changes take time.
The effectiveness of our training, therefore, depends on several factors:
- the intensity, duration, and frequency of the training stimulus,
- the type and duration of regeneration – before and after training.
Regeneration is the actual “art” of training planning because we react slightly differently to the same training stimuli.
What is Super Compensation?
Supercompensation is your body’s response to the training stimulus. It depends on two factors:
- physical ability
Maybe you’ve wondered how long your body takes and how much stronger, faster, and more muscular it gets after you’ve exercised.
Supercompensation answers both questions.
Supercompensation only takes place if you set a training stimulus beforehand.
And this is exactly where the rub lies.
What many people understand by “training” is not training…
“What are you doing today?” – “I’m going to train!”
Sport is not the same as training. Not every type of physical activity sets a training stimulus and leads to super compensation.
Many people follow an invisible script here, believing that any form of physical activity is exercise.
A fatal fallacy that can lead to your training progress not being made.
Let’s make it easy:
- Training: You set a training stimulus, trigger super compensation, and can increase your performance.
- No training: Everything else, including physical activity (running, strength training, etc.) that does not provide a training stimulus. (“subliminal stimulus ”)
Physical activity can mean many things: playing football with your buddies on the soccer field, swimming, yoga, and chasing the dog.
Training takes place outside of your comfort zone.
Training is aimed at physical change. You want to increase your performance. Training provokes an alarm response from your body.
For example, you are exhausting your energy reserves, tiring your muscles, and using enzymes.
It could also be that you destroy muscle fibers through intensive dumbbell training.
Your body then reacts something like this:
“Well? You’ve never asked me anything like that before. I’ll fix that, but please give me a little time for that!”
Physical activity is great, no question about it.
But the stimulus is not enough to trigger an adaptation. You want a training stimulus.
As long as you stay within your comfort zone, there is no alarm reaction and, therefore, no super-compensation.
The secret of effective training: 3 Reasons why your training plan is not working
The goal of your training is higher performance. You train to get faster, bigger, stronger.
You start at a starting level and want to get to the next performance level.
What happens between these two points is fascinating. The process is like a roller coaster ride.
- Stage 1: Training. The first phase of fatigue already begins during training. You leave your comfort zone and put more strain on yourself than before. Maybe you just finished a tough workout with more weight or ran a few miles further than last week.
- Stage 2: recovery. Your organism begins to repair muscles, tendons, joints, and enzymes. First, he “only” wants to bring you back to the starting level. He only improves the overloaded systems during training beyond your original capacity (see graphic 1). This is super-compensation.
Your body is better equipped for the next “emergency”.
In the best case, the roller coaster moves upwards – you get better. But often, the opposite happens: if you regenerate too long or too short, you will stall or go downhill.
Let’s make it concrete: This is the best case you’re aiming for.
Case #1 – Optimal performance progress (Super Compensation)
Take a look at Graph 1. Training is followed by a perfectly timed recovery period — the result: More performance.
DIAGRAM 1: Optimum power adjustment through Super Compensation.
How long should you rest to get the most out of the super compensation cycle?
That depends on the intensity of the training stimulus. The adjustment will be slower or faster depending on how hard or unfamiliar it is.
In the case of high-intensity strength training to failure, for example, the stressed muscle groups usually need several days to complete the regeneration and super compensation cycle.
With conventional submaximal muscle training, you can train on two consecutive days depending on the training level and the muscle group involved – the cycle is shorter.
The same principle applies in endurance sports: a marathon competition is an extreme example of a very intensive and unusual training stimulus.
Regeneration after a marathon run at the limit can take 4 weeks.
The increase in performance is optimal when the distance between two training stimuli is so great that our body is at the peak of its adaptation (Figure 1).
The good news for sports junkies: The better you are trained, the faster you regenerate.
Case #2 – Loss of power due to too long regeneration
If you under-challenge yourself in “training”, you can lose your performance again. Then your body says:
“Cold coffee, I can already do that!”
Maintaining a high level of performance “for contingencies” costs energy costs calories is expensive.
If our Stone Age ancestors were wasteful with energy, they probably wouldn’t have survived.
If there is no new training stimulus within a specific time after a training stimulus, you will slowly lose the improved performance again. Then your organism says:
“Probably just a false alarm after all.”
This usually happens when you train regularly for 2 weeks, then lose momentum and take a 2-week break. You might return to where you started, as shown in Chart 2.
Case #3 – Stagnation due to too short regeneration
Take a look at Chart 2.
GRAPHIC 2: Performance stagnation due to short recovery time. After initial success, many athletes find themselves in this situation in practice!
If you re-exert yourself too soon, your performance can stagnate.
World champions in training are the ones who do their best in the gym and on the track every day – and still don’t make any progress.
The chances are good that their ambition will improve, and they train too often without paying attention to the necessary regeneration.
Case #4 – Loss of performance due to too short a regeneration
If you further reduce the recovery time, then this has an effect that may seem paradoxical at first: you become worse.
Strength athletes can break down muscles, and runners can lose endurance. There is a risk of overtraining (Figure 3).
DIAGRAM 3: Loss of performance due to too short regeneration. The body can no longer restore the starting level – strength, endurance, and muscle mass decrease.
The magic in training lies mainly in the right balance between stress and relief.
What if you should regenerate, and you can’t keep your feet still?
Regeneration doesn’t mean that you have to put your feet up. You’re just downshifting a few gears.
Slow jogging, going for walks, easy units on the cardio ergometer, or recreational sports are well suited for “active” regeneration.
How do you find the optimal balance between training and regeneration?
Anyone who thinks that a single program of exercise, recovery, and nutrition can stimulate muscle growth, fat loss, and endurance leaps forever will soon be disappointed and frustrated.
The essence of any sport is to push our body to the limits of its adaptability through constant experimentation.
The possibilities are almost limitless.
We can accept that this inevitably involves setbacks and failures – sometimes, we have to take one step back to then take two steps forward!
It is far beyond the scope of this article to provide you with a concrete training plan. This always depends on many individual factors.
However, the actual progress does not happen during training but in the recovery phase afterward.
Suppose you are happy about a successful training session or were able to put on a few more weight plates in the studio.
In that case, you must be aware that the success of your training now depends on how you design the regeneration afterward.
Most people understand rest or regeneration to mean sleep, lazing around, vacation, etc. – and they are right.
These factors influence your regeneration:
- enough sleep
- balanced nutrition
- physical measures (massage, steam bath, sauna, etc.)
- mental relaxation and balance
- personal environment
- other factors ( doping, dietary supplements, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, medicines, diseases, etc.)
All factors are individually different.
Some people can get by with little sleep, eat junk food, drink alcohol, or smoke on the weekends – and still progress with their training.
For others, “nothing” works in training the next day if you haven’t slept through the night.
Experiment with your body!
If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, can’t get out of bed in the morning, and have to force yourself to exercise, reconsider your sleeping habits – these tips will help you.
If you are currently under severe psychological stress, switching your training to “performance maintenance” can be advantageous until you have more leisure.
Like training, recovery is a phase of your sport that you can actively influence! It also helps if you precisely measure your muscle regeneration.
Super Compensation – Conclusion
Training success does not only come from training. Rest and regeneration are just as important.
If you want to get more out of your training, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I setting the right training stimulus through my training? Am I stepping out of my comfort zone? (You will love this one!)
- Is the regeneration correct? Am I regenerating too long or too short?
- How high is the stress level in other areas of life? What can I do to reduce this burden?
- Am I getting the right nutrients to regenerate quickly?
By the way, you can measure how well you regenerate. In this article, you will learn more about it.