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The purpose of training is to increase athletes’ work capacity across broad time and modal domains, skill effectiveness, and psychological qualities to improve their performance in competitions.


Training is a long-term endeavor, and we cannot develop athletes overnight. As athletes train, they adapt or adjust to the training load. The better the athlete’s anatomical, physiological, and psychological adaptation, the higher the probability of improving athletic performance. Therefore, the objective of any well-organized training plan is to induce adaptations that improve performance. Improvement is possible only if the athlete observes a sequence of increasing stimulus (load) followed by adaptation and performance improvement. If the load is always at the same level, adaptation occurs in the early part of the training, followed by a plateau (stagnation) without any further improvement. If the stimulus is excessive or overly varied, the athlete will be unable to adapt, and maladaptation will occur.


Energy System 

We must also understand energy systems, the fuel used by each system, and how much time athletes need to restore energy fuels used in training and competition to conduct an effective training program. A good understanding of restoration time for an energy system is the foundation of supercompensation. It allows for calculating rest intervals between training activities during a workout, between workouts, and after a competition.


Energy is a prerequisite for performing physical work during training and competitions. Ultimately, we derive energy from converting food at the muscle cell level into a high-energy compound known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is stored in the muscle cell. ATP is one molecule of adenosine and three molecules of phosphate.  The energy required for muscular contraction is released by converting high-energy ATP into ADP + Pi (adenosine diphosphate + inorganic phosphate). The amount of ATP stored in muscle is limited, so the body must continually replenish ATP stores to enable physical activity. The body can replenish ATP stores by any three energy systems, depending on the type of physical activity:


1) The anaerobic phosphagen (ATP-PC) system: 

The primary anaerobic energy system is the phosphagen system (ATP-PC). The phosphagen system appears to be the primary energy source for extremely high-intensity activities, such as short sprints, diving, American football, weightlifting, jumping, and throwing events in track and field, vaulting in gymnastics, and ski jumping(Powers & Howley, 2018). The replenishment of the phosphagen stores is usually a rapid process, with 70% restoration of ATP occurring in about 30 seconds and complete recovery within 3 to 5 min of exercise. The restoration of PCr takes longer, with 2 min for 84% restoration, 4 min for 89% restoration, and 8 min for a complete recovery.


2) The anaerobic glycolytic system: 

The second anaerobic energy system is the glycolytic system, which is the primary energy system for activities lasting from 20 seconds to about 2 min. The primary fuel for the glycolytic system comes from the breakdown of blood glucose and glycogen stores. First, the vast majority of ATP is supplied from fast glycolysis, and as the duration of activity approaches 2 min, the supply of ATP primarily comes from slow glycolysis.  Fast glycolysis results in the formation of lactic acid, which is rapidly converted to lactate. The body’s ability to convert lactic acid to lactate may become impaired when glycolysis occurs quickly. Lactic acid begins to accumulate, which results in fatigue and, ultimately, a cessation of activity. The utilization of glycogen during exercise and competition depends on the duration and intensity of the exercise bout. Aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercises such as repeated sprint intervals and resistance training can significantly affect muscle and liver glycogen stores. Powers and Howley (2018) suggested that if carbohydrates are consumed within 2 hours of the completion of the exercise, muscle glycogen storage can increase by 45%.


3) The aerobic oxidative system:

Much like the glycolytic system, the oxidative system can use blood glucose and muscle glycogen as fuel sources for producing ATP. The significant difference between the glycolytic and oxidative systems is that the enzymatic reactions associated with the oxidative system occur in the presence of O2, whereas the glycolytic system processes energy without O2. Oxidative system does not produce lactic acid from the breakdown of glucose and glycogen. Additionally, the oxidative system can use fats and proteins in the production of ATP. The oxidative system derives about 70% of its ATP from the oxidation of fats and about 30% of ATP from the oxidation of carbohydrates.  The oxidative or aerobic system is the primary source of ATP for events lasting between 2 min and approximately 3 hours (all track events of 800 m or more, cross-country skiing, long-distance speed skating, etc.).



Supercompensation is the most important concept in training. Folbrot first described supercompensation in 1941 and later was discussed by Hans Selye, who called it the general adaptation syndrome (GAS).  General adaptation syndrome (GAS) theory is the basis of progressive overloading, which, if applied inappropriately, can create high degrees of undesirable stress. These concepts suggest that for the best training adaptations to occur, training intensities, training volumes, and bioenergetic specificity must be systematically and rationally alternated in phases. Proper planning must consider supercompensation because its application in training ensures the restoration of energy and, most importantly, helps athletes avoid critical fatigue levels that can result in overtraining. The supercompensation cycle has four phases and occurs in the following sequence:


Phase I: Duration of one to two hours after training

The body experiences exercise-induced fatigue, which occurs via either central or peripheral mechanisms. Fatigue is a multidimensional phenomenon caused by several factors such as reductions in neural activation of the muscle, increase brain serotonin levels, exercise-induced substrate utilization, lactic acid accumulation, increase in glucose uptake, and muscle damage.


Phase II: Duration of 24 to 48 Hours 

As soon as training is terminated, the compensation (rest) period begins. Within 3 to 5 min of the cessation of exercise, ATP stores are entirely restored, and within 8 min, PCr is completely resynthesized. Very high-intensity activity may require up to 15 min of recovery after exercise for PCr to be completely restored. Depending on the volume, intensity, and type of training, the ATP and PCr pool may increase above normal levels. Stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) components, such as jumping, electromyographic activity, and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) are partially restored within two hours after exercise bouts with large. The muscle protein synthesis rate is increased by 50% By 4-hour post-exercise and elevated by 109% by 24 hours.


Phase III: Duration of 36 to 72 Hours

This phase of training is marked by rebounding or super-compensation of performance. During this phase, Force-generating capacity and muscle soreness have returned to baseline by 72 hours post-exercise. Psychological super-compensation occurs, which can be marked by high confidence, feelings of being energized, positive thinking, and an ability to cope with frustrations and the stress of training. Glycogen stores are fully replenished, enabling the athlete to rebound.


Phase IV: Duration of 3 to 7 Days 

If the athlete does not apply another stimulus at the optimal time (during the supercompensation period), then involution occurs, which is a decrease in the physiological benefits obtained during the supercompensation period. Variations in the duration of the supercompensation phase depend on the type and intensity of training. For example, following a medium-intensity aerobic endurance training session, supercompensation may occur after approximately 6 to 8 hours. On the other hand, intense activity that places a high demand on the central nervous system may require more than 24 hours and sometimes as much as 48 hours for supercompensation to occur.



Bompa, T. O., & Buzzichelli, C. (2019). Periodization: Theory and methodology of training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Haff, G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Human Kinetics.

Powers, S. K., & Howley, E. T. (2018). Exercise physiology: theory and application to fitness and performance. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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