Athletic training (as a stress factor) forces organism to adapt for the training to ensure that if the stressor occurs for the next time a body can tolerate it better. However, those trainings must be systematic and targeted to guarantee that the adaptation process is a kind that we really expected during the training and it is beneficial only as long as it forces the organism to adapt to the stress of the training. If training stress is too small – there will be no adaptation and if training stress becomes too high or chronic it may result in injury or overtraining.
The single training, if high enough, disturbs homeostasis in the organism and results in the decrease in the functional capacity of the organism and fatigue. In order to bring the body back to normal it needs the elimination of stress (recovery). During the recovery period the energetic reserves of the organism will be compensated and athlete establishes a new, increased homeostatic level with positive benefit for training and performance. This effect is called supercompensation. Figure 1.
Figure 1. Supercompensation effect. Phase 1 – fatigue, Phase 2 – compensation, Phase 3 – supercompensation.
If a new training will be organized during supercompensation phase an athlete will face an increase/improvement in performance
Figure 2. Supercompensation – training effect if the next training session occurs during the supercompensation. Light blue line represents the performance level.
There could also be a situation, when the next training occurs before the full restoration of homeostasis. In this case athlete might see the decline in performance, that is usually accompanied by increases in fatigue.
However, the latter condition can still be made to favor athlete, if a longer period of rest is allowed after several „hard trainings“. In this case the effect of supercompensation can be even higher. Therefore, those kind of high load trainings /slightly longer recovery are more frequently used in high level athletes since it induces higher supercompensation effect.
The manipulation with rest and load to what the last figure corresponds is probably the million dollar question – „How much load can we put to the athlete to ensure that after recovery the improvement in performance will be the highest“. Overmanipulating with training load might also lead to overtraining and further to overtraining syndrome, where more than two weeks of recovery must be needed and there will occur no supercompensation.
In order to come closer to the aforementioned question, the coach must regularly challenge the athlete to evaluate the ceiling of adaptation. This means that a coach must plan high intensity trainings alternatively, so that they are separated with low intensity trainings.