Training Basics

Basic Principles of stress, recovery and overcompensation


Yes, you read correctly, STRESS. When you exercise you are effectively providing an outside STRESS to your body. In many cases stress can actually be toxic and can ( in excessive doses) be fatal.

Take walking for example. Most people walk, although some more than others. Let's say you average 2 miles a day; your body is accustomed to this level of exertion, therefore, it is not considered a stress, not anymore, since your body is already used to it.

But let's say you go on holiday where you walk around for 5 miles. At the end of the day you will be tired, your feet will ache and your back might ache as well. Why would this happen? This is the result of you having “delivered” a stress that your body is not accustomed to. Take a day or two off and then go out for a 5 mile walk again. Repeat for a couple of weeks. You will see by the end of two weeks, those 5 miles won’t be as tiresome. Those blisters have slowly started turning into callouses.

On the other hand if you are custom to walking 2 miles a day and for some reason you are suddenly forced into a 50 mile march, that stress can be so toxic it might just put you into the hospital!

The same argument can be said about sunbathing, bicycling or Resistance Training. (Weight Training).

When you lift weights you are applying an outside STRESS factor to your body. How big of a stress factor will be dependent on how well-trained you are, and how well your training program is organized.

To grow stronger you need to apply a high enough stress on your body to disrupt homeostasis, but not to the point where recovery cannot be completed by the time of your next training session.


It the hours following the application of the stress factor your body is in “recovery mode”, both at the muscular, physiological and neurological level.

Through systematic rest -and proper nutrition – the body will slowly recover from the stress factor. The duration of your recovery will depend on the amount of stress that has been applied, your age, your training level and your nutrition.

Overcompensation (Adaptation - aka Supercompensation)

It is here – following recovery and proper nutrition, that your body takes the necessary steps to adapt to the stress factor applied and then slightly increase its tolerance to the particular stress. In the case of resistance training, it will adapt by growing the muscle tissues (always provided it receives the proper nutrition) and increasing the neurological synapses of the Central Nervous System. Again here, the duration of overcompensation will depend on the amount of stress that has been applied, your age, your training level and your nutrition.


Muscles are not built in the gym. Muscles grow and get stronger in the aftermath of a training session, with proper rest and proper nutrition. Rest and recovery, along with proper nutrition, are as much a part of getting better and stronger as the actual training itself.

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