All About Tapering and General Adaptation Syndrome

When you’re going to participate in a competition or a major physical fitness test, being at the top of your performance ability is a must. But preparing your body for events like these takes healthy recovery for your body AND mind. There’s a science behind reaching this level of optimal fitness, which is why the FizzUp trainer is going to enlighten you on the basics of tapering and supercompensation.


Humans aren’t robots. We can’t train our bodies every day at 100% of our ability to make linear progress. Instead, we have to gradually add to a set workload and then reduce it during a relief phase to push our performance to 100% and avoid overtraining or stagnation.

Tapering significantly ups your chances of reaching this peak. This is the planned period of recovery that comes right before a competition and at the end of a training cycle, when you’re trying to achieve your highest possible level of physical fitness. Its purpose is to rid your body of accumulated fatigue and keep detraining from taking place. Generally speaking, this is what’s called general adaptation syndrome.

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In order to reach maximum supercompensation, you have to push yourself to your absolute limits, causing your physical fitness level to drop temporarily. You’ll reap the rewards of this if you give yourself enough time to recover and at the most opportune times (i.e. not before or after a competition).


Periodization is when you design a training program based on a clear goal you want to reach (whether that’s a specific stat or in a rank in a competition). The idea is to optimize the training stimulus and manage recovery as per how general adaptation syndrome (GAS) is managed.

Because the human body quickly adapts to a set constraint, varying your workouts is the key to minimizing or avoiding exhaustion periods and maintaining an effective exercise stimulus that leads to maximized athletic potential.

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Using the program’s variables (volume and intensity, in particular) allows your body to adapt so that it can reach its highest physical fitness level at the right time (the day of the competition). Other variables can be changed, too, such as the exercises and the periods of rest between sets.

General adaptation syndrome (GAS) includes three stages of how the body responds to stress:

  • Alarm is the first stage, which is made up of one workout. Performance decreases during this stage. An athlete can expect the initial effects of physical stress, such as fatigue and achy muscles.
  • Resistance is the second stage when your body adapts to the training stimulus and your performance gradually improves. Once your body has adapted, no further adaptation can take place unless the stimulus is changed. If given enough time to recover, your body can properly adapt to trigger supercompensation.
  • Exhaustion is the third stage, when the stimulus is constantly increased without the proper recovery periods. Your body then isn’t able to adapt and unless this stimulus is reduced, stagnation or overtraining occur along with a drop in performance and an increased risk of injury to top it all off.


A key aspect of an athlete’s final preparation phase is to reduce the training volume so that their body can recover from the workload it has been using. If you allow your body to recover using this process, you’ll feel rested and ready to reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself at the beginning of the training season.
But if an athlete stops training altogether, their physical fitness will begin to decline. Instead, what you should do is reach your maximum level of performance by combining recovery with faster and more intense exercises to keep your high level of physical fitness intact before a competition. If this recovery period is successful, you’ll notice better performance. This is what’s called a “delayed training effect.”

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Tapering done right has multiple positive impacts, such as:

  • Perception (relieves mental fatigue and boosts motivation)
  • Cells (more mitochondria)
  • Trauma recovery (muscle and joint regeneration)
  • Cardiovascular system (increase in blood volume)
  • Metabolism (increase in energy reserves)
  • Nerves (more strength)

Now you know the basics of general adaptation syndrome and how it’s closely related to tapering. Check back soon to learn how to put it to good use to achieve even better results with the article, “How to Use Tapering.”

Further reading

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