Adaptation and Compensation…A Case for Taking a Few Days Off

Today we are going to talk about how you get better (stronger, faster, larger work capacity etc).  The first and most obvious piece is that you need to train.  In this conversation, the type of training does not matter.  In a basic sense, when you train, you force your body to meet a new set of expectations.  These expectations could be front squating 205lbs for 4 reps all the way to rowing 500m in 1:37.  In both cases by doing the work, you are telling your body that this is the new normal and that it should adapt and should be more ready the next time you ask it to do the given activity.  More ready is another way of saying being able to do the work with less effort.  When your body receives this dose of new expectations it compensates with changes in your body.  In the case of strength, it might increase the size of the muscle fiber, or it might figure out how to recruit more of the muscle.  In the case of aerobic capacity, you might see changes in your fat regulation, or changes in your resting heart rate and max heart rate (other factors lead to these changes but this is simple version).  Really, you dont need to know exactly what is happening to you.  What you want to know is that 205lbs turns into 225lbs and your 500m row drops to 1:35.  Again, the first part is create the new expectation.

One of the problems that we face is the fact that each of you has different schedules and come work workout different days of the week and the amount of days that you train varies.  In a perfect world, everyone at CFABQ would have the same schedule and we could program the training to allow for a period of high expectations followed by a period of adaptation.  This theory is often referred to as compensation or super compensation.  There are many different ways and timeline to approach compensation but here we will examine a four week cycle.  In a perfect work we would progress from easier to harder training over three weeks and in the fourth week we would have a deload week.  The ramping up of volume/intensity in the three weeks is a massive dose of new expectations.  The fourth week might not be a rest week, but would include significantly reduced volume/intensity and is the time that the body could heal, reorganize itself, and make changes to deal with the new expectations.  Because of the varied schedules of all of our athletes we often live in a realm of medium intensity/volume with no deload, which works OK, but it stretches the timeline to make gains.  Soon we will be rolling out some changes to the programming that should hopefully aid in more productive compensation.  In the mean time, each of you should plan for yourself a few days (grouped together) each month in which to back off and allow your body to compensate.  You could take a few days off in addition to the weekend.  Or you could skip the strength and just do the met con.  Or your could skip the metcon and just do the strength portion.  Or you could simply do the workouts at 70% effort or cut the workout in half.  Our coaches can help you make that decision, but it is up to you to decide to do it and then ask for some advice.   Backing off is not easy and for some it is harder than training at 100%.  But I guarantee that you will see improvement if you take a step back just a few days a month.

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