All translations for this page: Other translations for this page:

Take a break

Lunch break. Now what? Thomas Bubendorfer strongly recommends a walk. This increases efficiency enormously, the extreme mountaineer and book author reveals in an interview. Among other things.

Interview: Michael Köckritz Photo: Matthias Mederer 20.02.2019 4 min

Thomas Bubendorfer lives in Monaco, this somewhat unconventional city state on the southern French Côté d'Azur. In 2017, when he crashed from a height of around 15 metres while ice climbing, he laid unconscious in a river for seven minutes and then in a coma for six days. 13 months later he climbs a new route in the south wall of the Großglockner. His credo: don't stop. But: Bubendorfer also says: "Rest periods are the prerequisite for future performance". But how does it work, with these resting phases? For rampstyle No. 17 we drove in a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo with Bubendorfer to his local mountain near Monaco and asked him.

What does the ideal break look like?

Movement is the key. This is due to our evolution. Our ancestors were walking on average 25 to 30 kilometres a day. Not running. They only had stress during the hunt, but it never lasted long. In the course of evolution, the adrenaline group has formed so that we can achieve maximum performance in the short moments. Even to feel no pain. Stress is not a bad thing in principle, but if it is not balanced out, it becomes harmful to health.

How do you do that?

Take an evening walk. Have a glass of wine. But also turn off your smartphone and all your devices. One should also sleep before midnight, because between midnight at two in the morning the growth hormones are active in all people. They'll fix anything that's broken. This is only possible if the cortisol level is low.

This also means that intensive sport in the evening is not the best idea.

If you have a high level of adrenaline: Hey, the saber-toothed tiger is after you, keep running. And not: Take a walk.


It's not logical. Wouldn't it be great if we treated people the same way we treat cars, elevators and all that stuff? Those are serviced regularly. But no human knows how his vegetative nervous system works.

And how do you find that out?

That's my subject. The vegetative nervous system consists of sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for mental and physical performance, the parasympathetic nervous system for recovery. And the vegetative nervous system is coupled to the heart, generates electricity - and that can be easily measured. We know that the ratio between the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system should not be more than 1:2. The sympathetic nervous system is always latently stronger. But for 70 percent of the people we measure, the ratio is 1 to 32. If they are also people who do marathons, mountain biking and tennis, I say that the whole fitness is useless if they can't recover. Many work not only eight hours, but more. Either they are unfit and can no longer recover because the parasympathetic nervous system is overloaded, or they are fit and can no longer recover. We have never had a board member that is fit and recoverable.


Never. When I'm in this state, I know I'm not realizing my potential. It's biologically and neurologically impossible. But if I can only reach sixty percent of my potential, the work I have to do will take me much longer. And the quality drops.

What does the ideal working day look like?

One increases mental performance between 40 and 60 percent if one takes a break of six minutes every 55 minutes and moves during these breaks. You have to do what's important in the morning. The cortisol level of a healthy person - cortisol is a good thing because it makes you efficient - rises between 6 and 8 o'clock in the morning, then it has a peak at noon. It sinks again by 4 or 5 p.m., then it should be zero by midnight. So you do the decisive thing in the morning, between 12 o'clock and 15 o'clock then routine stuff. But if you're smart, you take a one-and-a-half-hour break at noon - which at least doubles your performance in the afternoon.

And what's the best thing to do during this lunch break?

Walk for half an hour, have a bite to eat and then lie down. This dramatically increases creativity and performance. I also don't know why conferences are always held while sitting. We know that walking increases creativity by 16 percent. For example, Napoleon held meetings with his generals while walking.

THOMAS BUBENDORFER was born on 14 May 1962 in Salzburg, Austria. He had a humanistic education and went to an English private boarding school. At the age of twelve, he discovered the mountains for himself. Bubendorfer was the first to climb the Eiger north face and the Matterhorn north face without rope. In 1984, he gave his first presentation to executives on the subject of motivation, which has now grown to over 900 - and he also wrote several books. As a philosopher among climbers, he heeds his grandfather's motto: »What have you done for your head?«

More under: