Saturday, November 3, 2007

Get Your ZZZs

What you do in the gym is important. Using good form, lifting with intensity, working a proper split--these things are all going to affect your progress.

But the gym isn't where you build strength. It's where you demand from your body, under duress of torture with strange instruments (Power cage? Not the power cage!), that it build strength. The strength building takes place outside the gym. I've read from several bodybuilders that they'd rather miss a workout than a meal.

So in the morning you do the perfect workout. You eat a proper post-workout meal and follow up on it throughout the day with nutritious food. Then you go to bed late and only get five hours of sleep. You just lost a lot of the progress you worked so hard throughout the day to attain.

Your muscles need recovery time, and the time they can be assured that you're not going to move and mess them up is when you're asleep. Muscle is built at night. You can do everything else right and plateau hard because you aren't giving your body time to do what you're asking of it. And beyond the loss of future muscle (that's like future crime. Ask Tom Cruise about it), you're counteracting numerous other benefits:

*Exercise makes you smarter. Lack of sleep makes you dumber.

*Being fit regulates insulin sensitivity. Lack of sleep causes a resistance to insulin (think type 2 diabetes).

*Exercise reduces stress. Lack of sleep increases it, and therefor cortisol, which reduces your immune system, increases fat, eats muscle, causes heart disease, and messes with your mental health.

You've already made time for exercise. Now you have to make time for a solid night of sleep. Where are you going to get the extra three hours from? I don't know. I just point out problems; I don't give solutions. That's too hard.

How to sleep soundly tonight--and wake up slimmer, happier, and healthier

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