Recover properly and you’ll win

Valentin Belz 26. January 2023


Adequate recovery after a training stimulus is the key to success.

We amateur athletes are always wondering how we can optimise our training to get (even) faster. We are willing to add mileage or increase the intensity of our training. But we often forget that training and recovery belong together and that the next stimulus should basically only be introduced once we have recovered from the previous one. This is the only way to benefit from the supercompensation effect and become more efficient. If you start the next training unit before you have recovered, you run the risk of stagnating or, at worst, even reducing your level of performance despite all your good intentions.

The regeneration period is highly individual

The length of regeneration and thus the best time to introduce the next training stimulus depends on many factors. But primarily on your individual level of performance and the strength of the stimulus, as determined by its duration and intensity. A professional has a much better ability to regenerate and can or must therefore complete a second unit just half a day after an extensive endurance run, for example, if they want to achieve the maximum benefits of supercompensation. A beginner, on the other hand, needs at least a full day to completely recover.

During regeneration, various processes take place in the body:

  • Your ATP and creatine phosphate stores are replenished within seconds or minutes
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and lactate level are reduced to resting values and your fluid and electrolyte balance returns to normal within 6 hours
  • It takes between 6 and 36 hours for your glycogen and lipid stores to be replenished
  • And days or months to regenerate and build up your connective and supporting tissue and produce new mitochondria

Less is more

It is extremely tempting to blindly follow a plan. However, this is not always effective due to the danger of there not being enough time between two units. This might not be a problem if it happens every now and again. But if it is the norm, sooner or later your performance will stagnate and your body will eventually start sending you subtle signs. When ignored, they will only get stronger until at some point you are forced to give your body the rest it simply needs to recover.

What can we learn from this?

  • A sufficiently long period of recovery is required before the next training unit
  • The better trained you are, the faster you can recover and thus be ready for the next training stimulus
  • Basic training forms the foundation for a rapid recovery
  • Recovery occurs on different levels and can be supported through specific measures (e.g. nutrition, sleep, recovery-promoting measures)
  • The signs your body sends should be taken seriously
  • Introducing individual training stimuli in the right order and combination will help build your fitness level