Regeneration: Why Athletes Need Breaks

Overtraining: This Is Why Too Much Training Is Harmful

Lose weight quickly and visibly, build muscle mass quickly and visibly - these are the most common reasons for going to the gym. But if you demand too much from your body too quickly, you put your health at risk. Why breaks are so important.

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Do not train incessantly - the body needs time for regeneration

Regeneration is part of the training plan. Because only in the breaks can the human organism, which is stressed by the sport, recover from the loads or gradually adjust to the permanent stress. The correct dosage of training is therefore not only good for your health, but also for your training success.

The scientific basis for this fact is the stimulus threshold rule. The underlying stimulus threshold law was recognized in 1895 by Wilhelm Roux, a German anatomist, and is considered the basis of training theory in sports. According to this law, stress stimuli trigger different effects on the body depending on their intensity (stimulus threshold).


The Stimulus Level Rule

  • Stage 1: Subthreshold stimuli have no effect.
  • Stage 2: Low-suprathreshold stimuli only maintain the training state.
  • Stage 3: Medium- to high-threshold stimuli increase the effect by triggering the desired physiological and anatomical changes in the body.
  • Stage 4: Very high threshold stimuli have the opposite effect - they lead to undesired changes and harm the body.

In order to achieve the desired training success, the stimuli must therefore not be too low, but also not too strong. They must be applied in the right dose and increased accordingly, from a health point of view preferably continuously. In high-performance sports, a sudden increase in training stimuli is also used.


Muscles need time to regenerate or form anew
Muscles need time to regenerate or form anew

Miraculous Organism

The body maintains balance in its various systems, for example in the blood circulation and energy balance, through self-regulation. In the event of a deficiency as a result of stress, whether physical or mental, it compensates itself.

It only adapts to new conditions, e.g. due to changes in diet, increased muscle strain, oxygen consumption or similar, if they persist at a certain intensity over a longer period of time. The person who wants to lose weight takes advantage of this by eating wholesome, low-fat food. And the athlete uses this by continuing to train with a strengthened cardiovascular system and more muscle mass, but only after an appropriate recovery period.

But what is adequate?

Regeneration Individually Different

Depending on age, fitness and any previous illnesses, regeneration takes different lengths of time for each individual. The body must restore its temperature balance, which is regulated by sweating but at the same time is out of balance.

It has to restore its energy balance, especially by consuming carbohydrates and replenishing the lost minerals. In the muscles, destroyed cells have to be rebuilt. The brain must process and store new movement sequences.

Rule of Thumb: Take at Least One Day Break

If the muscles were particularly stressed by sports, a regeneration of 24 to 48 hours is recommended. Beginners should exercise twice a week, advanced athletes can exercise up to five times a week or two to three times at high intensity.

If the muscles have been completely exhausted or overworked, e.g. by an intensive mountain tour, they even need three to four days to recover. Competitive athletes regenerate much faster and do a lot of endurance training, regardless of their sport.

After skiing, yoga provides relaxation. Also important in the evening: refill the empty water reservoirs, otherwise there will be cramps the next day.
If the muscles are particularly stressed, for example by a mountain tour, they need even several days of regeneration.

Risk of Overtraining

If, after this urgently needed regeneration, stimuli flow into the body at a slightly increased intensity, e.g. by stressing the newly formed muscle cells, these remain and strengthen (thicken) the existing muscles. Otherwise, they are broken down again after a certain time.

If you continue to train before the cells have formed, you prevent the muscles from building up. Even more: He destroys more muscles than he can build new ones. The performance level drops. In the long run, this also damages the functions of the organism. The technical term for this is "overtraining".

If the overload continues, the athlete becomes ill. Symptoms of overtraining are an increased pulse rate both at rest and under stress, headaches and sleep disturbances.

If the desired success in training fails to materialize, however, the lack of regeneration is not necessarily the cause. Maybe it's a lack of technique or the right training program? You can find tips here.

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