To explain what supercompensation is, consider if you will a Kim Kardasian (adjust according to your preference) lookalike nurse administering a vaccine. Immunisations (vaccines) build up the body’s defence to certain germs such as bacteria or virus’, it does this by introducing only a minute amount of the infective bacteria, but enough to cause an immune response. Consequently, antibodies are formed developing a bacteria/infection specific defence which prepares the body for any similar infiltrations in the future. May I draw your attention to the word ‘prepares’….The development of antibodies is a ‘compensatory’ mechanism as much as it is a defence mechanism in that it effectively increases the bodies threshold to compensate for any similar attacks from the bacteria and viruses that caused the infection the first time round. So in the instance of muscle damage caused by physical exertion/stress, needed to induce growth, the body adopts another ‘compensatory’ mechanism to deal with future exertions/stressors which is known as….SUPERCOMPENSATION.
Supercompensation before, during & after exercise
The above picture illustrates the decline you get when exercising due to the depletion of glycogen and other substrates used for energy, and the catabolic/breakdown of muscle tissue (Training). It then shows the gradual repletion of the energy stores, protein and skeletal muscle tissue (recovery), followed by a compensatory rise above the normal level/base level of recovery (supercompensation) (Bompa, 1999).
The term muscle memory refers to your muscles ability to restore a previous level of physical capacity having had a short or long break. Your days rest between muscle groups will result in your body reverting to your base level/basal level. Since your body was forced to train harder than ever during your previous session, you effectively smashed down the wall aka your threshold. Consequently, your threshold increases meaning you are able to train harder for longer at your next training session!
Role of Supplements
Improvements in physical activity and sport are not dependant on nutritional supplements, but according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2010), the ergogenic effect of a structured creatine monohydrate and whey protein regimen, or a whey protein, creatine, and fat burner regimen can certainly help to induce the supercompensatory effect (Kreider, Wilborb, Campbell, 2010)! We’ve all hit that plateau, the point where no matter what we do, we just can’t seem to surpass that training threshold from before….A competitive edge, a helping hand is needed to go from good, to very good, from very good to excellent, from excellent to world class, and from world class to, well... Usain Bolt?!
Bompa, T, O. (1999). Periodization. Theory and Methodology of Training. 4th Ed. Fatigue and Overtraining. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
Kreider, R, B., Wilborb, C, D., Campbell, B., Almada, A, L., Collins, R., Cooke, M et al, (2010). ISSN exercise & Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition. 7: 1550-2783.