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Superovercompensation And Overcompensation For Improved Athlete Performance

Updated on September 6, 2012
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Overcompensation as a result of training stimulus

The cycle of compensation. Overcompensation
The cycle of compensation. Overcompensation | Source

What is overcompensation?

Overcompensation is the physiological response by the body to physical training. It signifies an overreaction by the body to training stress and causes an improvement in performance by allowing the body to cope with a greater training stimulus.

The basis of the principle is Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome

Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome

Stage 1- Shock/ Alarm Phase

This is the phase where the body is damaged as a result of the stimulus from exercise.

Stage 2- Resistance Phase

This is the phase where overcompensation occurs as the body recovers and over adapts to the stimulus of exercise.

Stage 3- Exhaustion Phase

When overcompensation will no longer occurs as a response to damage to muscle tissue

Overcompensation is the basis for periodization of training to improve performance

What is Superovercompensation?

Superovercompensation is an advanced version of overcompensation through performance and fitness training. It is extremely effective in raising performance levels however must be approached with extreme caution by any athlete.

The athlete is subjected to a greater than usual training load or stress which leads to the body being forced into supercompensation. The effect of this is to put the athlete into a mild state of overtraining for a relatively short period of time. Upon recovery from this training stress the body superovercompensates which leads to improved athlete performance.

Contraindications for Superovercompensation

  • Superovercompensation should not be attempted in young athletes- their performance should be gently nurtured over time and Superovercompensation could be considered too intensive for this group
  • Inexperienced athletes who are not adjusted to the physical and psychological stresses of training should not undertake this form of training
  • Superovercompensation should not be used more than once during a competition build up period due to the stress it places on the body and mind.
  • Athletes who believe themselves to be in a state of overtraining must not participate in Superovercompensation training and must be prescribed a period of rest and recuperation

Superovercompensation helps enhance performance
Superovercompensation helps enhance performance | Source

Superovercompensation in Cycling- An Example

Many racing cyclists, triathletes and competitive runners attend Pre Season 'Training Camps'. These camps are a great example of how Superovercompensation works.

During a training camp the athlete will in many cases perform an increased workload of training. An example could be that a cyclist would ride 500 miles across a 7 day period which will likely be significantly higher than their average weekly training volume which may be for example around 250-300 miles.

After the training camp the cyclist will likely feel physiologically and mentally tired for a period of a week or more during their recovery phase. Upon recovery there is an overshoot in performance as a result of Superovercompensation in endurance capacity and muscle strength.

As the athlete's body is not accustomed to regularly cycling 500 miles per week if this level of mileage is continued it will not allow the body time to recover and lead to a state of overtraining in which short term rest and recover will no longer lead to improved performance benefits.


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    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      8 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks Alocsin, these are key sports science terms in athlete development. Thanks for your feeback

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've never heard these terms before. Thanks for the introduction. Voting this Up and Useful.


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