Sleep Is Good!

I don’t think that anyone is going to argue with the title I chose for this blog post…But I do think that there are a lot of people who do no understand exactly why sleep is good, or why you need sleep in order to maximize your results.  I always talk about BRINGIN IT, giving 100% effort during your workouts, doing the hard work on the nutrition by never cheating…the list goes on and on.  What people usually neglect though is one of the most important variables in our fitness success equation…SLEEP.

This is when all the magic happens.  This is when your muscles repair themselves and grow.  It is commonly misunderstood that your workouts make your muscles grow, when in fact it is during rest that they are repairing and growing from all that punishment Tony and the P90X gang just put them through.  So if you are never getting the rest you need, then your muscles cant repair or grow properly to prepare for the next workout.  No recovery, no growth, not getting stronger…Not good!!!

First off, let’s take a look at exactly what “rest” is. Rest is the period in between workouts that includes low energy loss activities. Each body part requires a different number of days to recover. Hypothetically speaking, every time you workout, you should be stronger than the previous time, given you have allowed yourself enough rest.  Rest also takes many forms, so let’s also look at three of the most important ones.

#1)  Sleep:  This would be the most obvious form of rest as it is the longest period of time when we are experiencing low energy loss activity.  The number one reason sleep is important is because Growth Hormone (HGH) rises during deep sleep, which often begins about 30-45 minutes after falling asleep. HGH, or Human Growth Hormone is an amino acid produced in the pituitary gland of the brain, and it plays an important role in repairing muscle tissue.  If you are depriving yourself of sleep, not only are you going to feel lousy, but your results will suffer too.  The average person need 6-12 hours of sleep.  The key to understanding how much sleep you need should not be determined by some statistic though.  Studies have shown that around 10% of people can function without sleep deprivation symptoms with only 5 hours of sleep.  10%….Don’t try and convince yourself that you are in the 10%, lol.  The key in understanding exactly how much sleep you need is to gauge whether or not you feel rested the next day.

For me, it takes quite the effort to get in just 7 hours of sleep.  I get up between 5:00 and 5:30 am every day for my workout which means if I want 7 hours of sleep, I have to be asleep by 10:oo or 10:30.  This doesn’t always happen.  I have 2 toddlers and when they need me, they need me.  Also, because my days are so busy, when my wife and I hit the sack, we end up talking for an hour or two sometimes.  So when I cant get the sleep that I know I need, I make it up later.  If I get 5 hours one night, I try and get 8-9 hours the next night.  Sleep deprivation is an accumulated symptom, so make it up when you can.  The longer you neglect your bodies need for sleep, the worse you will feel.

#2)  48 Hour Rule:  This is key in making sure that your muscles have enough time to repair before blasting them again.  So what is the 48 hour rule?  You never want to work out the same muscle group less than 48 hours apart.  For example; if you did “Back & Biceps” on Monday, you would want to wait until Wednesday to workout you back or biceps again.  You will notice that P90X splits up the muscle groups and the routines so that you never hit the same muscle less than 48 hours apart.  You might assume that working your biceps more often will grow you biceps faster, but that’s wrong…remember, muscles grow at rest…follow the 48 hour rule!

If you have developed your own schedule rather than following the P90X schedule (different program or a hybrid schedule), on thing that would be a good idea is to alternate lift/cardio days.  I currently follow the P90X classic schedule and plan on doing some of the One-On-One workouts starting in the middle of my 3rd round.  Again, since I will be developing my own hybrid schedule, its important to make sure I am not hitting the same muscles within 48 hours of each other.  Your body will thank you and your results will show its gratitude.

#3) Recovery Week:  Now when you here recovery and think of all that we have discussed thus far, don’t misunderstand the “recovery week”.  This is not a week off from your workouts — Its just as intense, and you need to push just as hard as you would normally.  The recovery week simply emphasizes difference muscle groups, utilizing unique workouts that throw your muscles into confusion and doesn’t allow your body to settle into a routine.  Change is good!  DONT SKIP YOUR RECOVERY WEEK WORKOUTS!!!

To sum it all up, you still need to BRING IT with every ounce of energy you have and do yourself a favor and reap the rewards of your hard work by allowing your body to repair and grow while you rest.  Your gains will be noticeable and you are going to feel like a million bucks!

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