Most cyclists have heard the term "peaking" somewhere along their ride, usually associated with riders trying to 'peak' for a specific event. How to get to this point is the challenge, and everybody does so in a different way.
The training leading up to that point however, is something that can be applied across the board - this is where we refer to 'overcompensation' by your body.
Overcompensation - what is it?
Overcompensation is your body responding to stress you place upon it - in this instance, you doing a training ride. Put simply, you fatigue your body, and in response to this stress, your body rebuilds and overcompensates for the stress it endured. It does this, so it is better prepared for next time it experiences this sort of stress.
Overcompensation - timing your training?
If you time your training correctly, you will benefit more from it compared to if you just haphazardly rode your bike! By understanding the basic concept of overcompensation, you can effectively maximise your training and benefit far beyond what you expected...
P.O.P and Training
"Peak Overcompensation Point" is the highest point of overcompensation, and is the perfect time to do your next session. In todays' day and age, finding time to do this in a scientific manner is a bit beyond what most people can handle.
The simplest way to do this and apply it to your schedule, is to follow a basic routine of "two days on, one day off" training cycle. If you can't do this, try to do at least "one day on, one day off".
Duration of Overcompensation - how long does it last?
In general, overcompensation can last between 2 - 3 days. It is most effective to train at the P.O.P (peak overcompensation point) to get the most from your session. If you can't do this, because of time limitations - then you still have another 2 days of benefiting from this boosted ability. The results won't be as aggressive, although you will still benefit!
Duration of Fitness - forget P.O.P, how long does my fitness last?
Your fitness is different to your range of overcompensation. Your fitness refers to the base level of ability your body has. This ability is affected by your training, and increases over time. (several weeks or months, before your base level increases notably)
Once you obtain a new 'base level' of fitness, you would have endured several cycles (or loops) of;
- Training - Fatigue - Overcompensation - Recovery - Training - Fatigue....
Once your new level of base fitness is acquired, you have around 9-11 days of inactivity, before you start to lose your actual fitness.
Panic about Lack of Training - relax, time is on your side!
Far too many people panic about losing fitness, especially when they fall sick with a simple cold or virus.
Although you will lose that 'edge' - (now known as overcompensation) you will not lose your fitness for at least another 10 days from the date that you become inactive.
By the time you are well and healthy again, you may have lost a small degree of fitness and all your overcompensation phase will be gone, but in a matter of days you'll be back to where you were before you got ill.
You are better off recovering from illness completely, before you start training again - your body won't go into overcompensation if it is fighting illness. It has enough on it's plate, let alone now trying to recover from training (stress!)
Hopefully this helps you understand WHY you have rest days, and also WHY it is important to minimise large gaps in your training program.
If you'd like more input into your training program, contact the Performance Studio team for a road program, as well as some complementing Wattbike sessions to fill those gaps...