More training = better recovery – The law of supercompensation vs overtraining

Now that we increased the training load, the recovery between training sessions has become more and more important. In addition to the practice of physical labor, it is also a matter of training to ensure that the recovery proceeds optimally. Recovery consists of 3 important components; nutrition, rest and time. We can play with the first two but time is something we will not always have during the year of the 7 summits. By focusing optimally on the other two components, we can make the best use of time. Let’s see how we can best train this.

What is fatigue?

Tiredness will be one of the biggest enemies that Jur and Boris will encounter next year. Every body responds to fatigue with a significant decrease in strength and speed. This is the result of the 4 causes of fatigue;

  • An accumulation of metabolic by-products in the active muscle cells (including lactic acid)
  • An exhaustion of important catalytic elements in muscle cells
  • An exhaustion of intramuscular glycogen stores
  • An exhaustion of the neurological components that influence the exchange of nerve impulses that cause muscle contractions

Training makes you weaker

Training makes you weaker, not stronger. It is during the recovery period that the body becomes stronger. After a period of recovery you reach a higher fitness level than you had before you started working out. It is necessary to look for fatigue in the training sessions in order for training adaptation to occur. Most likely, the form of fatigue that you create with the training will have effects on all 4 aspects. All of these aspects require their own recovery period for which a period of reduced stress is applied to these systems so that adaptation, recovery and growth can take place. But what happens during this phase of recovery? Is it time in bed, is it a reduction in the training load, how long does the recovery period take before you can start the next training? The answer to these questions is; This remains a personal consideration that must be monitored and adjusted at all times. It is a matter of perfectly balancing training and rest to ensure that you can achieve your highest achievable fitness level.

The law of supercompensation

To properly understand how training and recovery relate to each other, we look at the law of supercompensation.

The various phases of supercompensation are outlined in the image below.

The “Baseline” is the level of your physical state prior to exercise. As soon as the effort starts, the body becomes increasingly tired and at the end of the training the body is in its worst state. It is tired and the recovery phase is now starting to heal the body from the damage sustained. Recovery is shown in the diagram below with the upward line. As soon as this line exceeds the aforementioned “baseline”, we speak of supercompensation; the body recovers slightly better than it was before training and your fitness level takes a step forward. The trick is not to train too lightly (super compensation is minimal to zero) but also not too heavy (the body does not extract super compensation from training adaptation). That is why it is so incredibly important that the training sessions are evaluated each time with a grade and that they are responded to with the necessary training and nutritional adjustments. If all this goes according to plan, a gradually rising line will emerge in the long term, see the diagram below.


The greatest possible supercompensation is what a top athlete strives for, but it is a thin line between training at the cutting edge and overtraining. If the recovery time is not used properly or does not last long enough for a full recovery, the reverse effect occurs, overtraining. This effect is shown schematically below. The horizontal line indicates the “baseline”. This line is not achieved during the recovery of the first training. Due to too little rest or poor nutrition. The following training is introduced too early, so that the downward trend becomes structural in the long term. This is the greatest danger that we face while following the training plan. It is always better to train a little less on the edge in order to exclude the risk as much as possible instead of crossing this line and go over it. Overtraining means very simple; GAME OVER!

In the next blog I will further discuss the nutritional guidelines you can use to enhance and accelerate recovery. Let the take-away of this blog be that you have to take the signs of body fatigue very seriously. As you train more and longer, you will increasingly pick up and recognize signals. You learn to understand the body during this process, which will give you a lot of benefits in the mountains.

Do it yourself!

To become better yourself in planning your training sessions to achieve supercompensation, I would like to advise you to keep a logbook. You can go as far as you want here. Think of writing down the feeling of the impact of the training sessions, how you felt before you started, whether you had eaten and slept well, the weather conditions and the time you trained etc. Try to notice patterns after a few weeks in your observations and adjust your recovery strategy accordingly.

If you are not completely sure about your own recovery strategy and would like advice, feel free to ask your questions in the comments below or send me an email with your schedule to; [email protected]

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