Aug, 3, 2010

# Supercompensation and the Progressive Overload Dilemma

So what exactly is Supercompensation and the Progressive Overload Dilemma? Well if you’ve been training consistently for more than a few years you’ve already faced it, although you may not have been familiar with its name.

As a beginner, almost any training program will produce results. A body that hasn’t adapted yet to training will adapt quickly. It may seem as though you’re able to add weight to the bar almost every workout.

Each workout stimulates an adaptation to allow the body to handle more the next time.The period of time in which the body is sufficiently prepared to handle a greater load than before is called the Supercompensation phase.

But eventually progress slows and further increases in strength and muscular size are only possible when the program is altered to produce more overload. At this point, weight can no longer generally be added at every workout, but often weight can be added weekly.

At this point progressive overload requires manipulation of sets, reps, load, rest intervals and time-under-tension (TUT).

But what happens when you’ve manipulated all of the variables as much as possible and you still can’t make progress?

This is called the Progressive Overload Dilemma.

The solution or at least the attempt to provide progressive overload is through the manipulation of volume and intensity over longer periods of time.

With a couple years of training behind you, the loads you can lift are far more taxing to both your structures as well as your recovery ability.For this reason, cycling of loads and volumes must be carefully planned or progress is halted.

The longer you train, the more complex the planning of your training must be to elicit further progress.

Here’s a breakdown of how volumes and loads are cycled to give progressive overload at the different stages of your training career.

**Beginner**

Week/WorkoutVolume/Load

1/1Moderate/High (PR)

1/2Moderate/High (PR)

1/3Moderate/High (PR)

2/1Moderate/High (PR)

2/2Moderate/High (PR)

2/3High/High (PR)

3/1Moderate/High (PR)

3/2Moderate/High (PR)

3/3Moderate/High (PR)

This can often continue for 3-6 months.Moderate volume is generally 2-3 working sets and High load means that you’re lifting more than before.

**Intermediate**

Week/WorkoutVolume/Load

1/1High/Moderate

1/2Moderate/Low

1/3Low/High (PR)

2/1High/Moderate

2/2Moderate/Low

2/3Low/High (PR)

3/1High/Moderate

3/2Moderate/Low

3/3Low/High (PR)

This type of progress will eventually stop as the PR numbers get higher and higher.When they stop, periodization must be introduced as follows to allow for further progress.

**Advanced**

Week/WorkoutVolume/Load

1/1Mod-High/High

1/2Mod/Low

1/3High/High

2/1Mod-High/Mod

2/2Mod/Low

2/3Mod-High/Mod

3/1Mod-High/High

3/2Mod/Mod

3/3Low/High (PR)

4/1Low/Low

4/2Low/Low

4/3Low/Low

As before, when hitting a new PR is not possible after successive 3-5 week blocks, and with all other lifestyle factors in check, programming must be planned for PR attempts to be at 5-6 month intervals.

**Elite**

WeekVolume/Load

1-4:Mod/High

5-8: Mod/Mod

9-13:High/High

14-17: Mod/Mod

18-21:High/High

22-25: Mod/Mod

26-29: Low/Very High (PR)

In the end, continued progress is the result of carefully planning the alternating sequences of volume and load manipulations to provide progressive overload over time which results in supercompensation which allows for the new PR.

If you have any questions about how you can incorporate this into your training, please leave your comments in the comments box below.

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