I have been weightlifting for quite some time now, but it wasn’t up until recently that I had to ask myself, “Do weightlifters need more sleep?”
I ran across an article that talked about that very subject, and it wasn’t until then that I considered maybe I wasn’t growing as quickly as I once did because I was not getting the sleep my body needed to recuperate.
So do weightlifters need more sleep? The average person requires around 8 hours of sleep per night to function at their best fully. However, many people can make it on less sleep. In some instances, according to metabolism and other factors, many lifters (and people in general) will require more. It is recommended that weightlifters and athletes get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night to further progress their efforts.
Getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night is the equivalent of fasting. Fasting is catabolic to engaging muscle growth in athletes and bodybuilders. Many people will try to eat a small meal of protein before sleep to further encourage protein synthesis that can lead to bigger gains and faster gains over time.
Thrown in with the idea that sleep is essential in length… what can be even more important is the quality of the sleep that a weightlifter is getting.
If you are not sleeping well, sleeping funny hours or waking several hours a night… you are probably not getting the optimal kind of sleep to see your best efforts shine through.
Always strive to give your body what it needs and remember that lifting weights is essentially tearing your muscles down. The real work begins when you sleep and rest so that muscles can grow back bigger and stronger.
Is Getting the Sleep You Need the Only Important Factor to Grow Stronger and Bigger Muscles Faster?
Sleep is a large part of the recovery for athletes. You need to ensure that you are giving your body at least 8 hours a night to make certain that your body is healing up to get stronger, bigger and better.
However, this is not the only key ingredient to getting the results that you want… even if you are not a beginner.
There are many misconceptions to bodybuilding. Let’s take a look at some of the methods and myths that lead to a better physique. So what works? What does not and what is just plain old hype? Let’s read on to find out…
What are the results of better sleep and taking the time out to rest?
Most people when they first begin weight training want to hit the bar as hard as they can. This is not a bad thing. The heavier you lift, and the more you progress, the quicker you will see results and the stronger you will become. However, if you are not sleeping or resting, you are doing your hard work a disservice.
Weightlifting works to transform your body like this… it tears your muscles. To grow back bigger, healthier and stronger muscles, your body must go to work to repair that tear which comes back as leaner, bigger, stronger muscle mass.
Now picture this, say you want a lush lawn in your backyard, and you started with only dirt. Would you be super eager to get that grass growing right? After all, summer might be coming.
You might have guests coming along. You would want your grass to be growing and growing fast! Would you plant and replant grass seeds every day though or would that be counterproductive? Would you over water the grass seeds once you dug them?
No! That would only serve to prevent your grass from growing. You’d be constantly digging up and then over watering! Now think of your muscles in this way. Your muscles are being torn down during workouts and while we do the HARD work in the gym… our bodies change outside of it.
They change while we are resting. This means that if you are continually tearing your body down, you are never giving your body time to do what you need it to do… develop strong, lasting muscle.
How do I Decide What is Right for Me?
In this section, we will take a look at your routine, your lifestyle and your goals to decide what sleep and rest schedule works best for you. Are you ready? Here goes…
How much sleep leaves you feeling better or worse?
Many people have a sweet spot when it comes to sleep. Some can get by on 6 hours and feel great. Others feel worse when they sleep over 8 hours. Listen to your body. It will guide you as to how many hours you need.
Everyone has a different metabolism and a different need for sleep. No two people are alike. So always be sure that are you “training your body” not copying someone else’s routine that will not work for you long-term.
Is Resting the Same as Sleeping?
Rest days are crucial. This means days that you take time off working for the same muscle groups. You do not need to train the same muscle group back to back.
Give yourself time to recover. When you do, you will not only see results, but you will see better and stronger results.
Your body cannot grow and change if you do not let it. Be your body’s best friend. Give it the rest days that it needs. Once a week consider taking a full day off maybe with a light workout or a bodyweight workout if you cannot stand the idea of simply missing out on your workout days.
Add sleeping well onto your rest days, and you will begin to see the body that you want in no time. You have to be dedicated enough not to let life stand in the way of getting the rest and sleep that you need and deserve to meet your goals.
What if I am plateauing? Is this my sleep messing up my training?
Maybe and maybe not. If you are over-training, you are going to see the opposite effect. You can begin to feel like you are training for nothing! This is why you need to rest.
If you are getting rest days from working on the same muscle group back to back and getting ample amounts of sleep… Look elsewhere. Your problem may lie in a lack of mixing up your workout routine, progressing weight sizes and or simply bad form.
Where does diet come into play here?
Diet is another place where muscle happens. Yes. Again, we do the hard work at the gym, but the real work starts behind the scenes. You need to be sure that you are staying hydrating to fuel your workouts.
Carbs give you energy so do not be afraid of them but be sure that you are eating clean.
Also, you know that you need plenty of protein to see good muscle growth. The best sources come from natural sources. However, whey protein and other proteins can come in handy if you do not have time to cook a chicken dinner after every single workout.
You can also buy microwavable meals that are already set to go for those who workout, combining, healthy fats and oils with protein and carb for energy.
Where food is concerned, it can also be a good idea to try to get in 6 small meals a day instead of 3. This gives your muscles more protein intake at a steadier rate and can help you to grow bigger faster.
Is there anything else I should know?
Now let’s take a look at some other things that might be pertinent to helping you gain and get the sleep you need.
What if I can’t sleep due to an anabolic steroid?
Melatonin, steroid or not, can help you to sleep better and get a more restful sleep. It is a naturally occurring chemical that you find in dinners like turkey at Thanksgiving, hence, the old saying that turkey can make you need a nap!
How Can I Get More Sleep?
Carving out time for naps is better than nothing at all. If you find that you cannot get the sleep that you need… make the time. A nap here and a nap there is better than no sleep at all.
So whether you are sleeping 10 hours a night or piecing together naps to make ends meet… as long as you are trying – any rest is better than no rest and vital to grow stronger each day.
When you first begin your weightlifting journey, most people do not research what they are getting themselves into. The most progression most people see all at once… is in the beginning.
However, for me, after a long time of weightlifting, I began to plateau with my results…Why? The answer you already know. To achieve the best result of your weightlifting training, you need more sleep.
And I can say with 100% confidence that I found that all the above information, along with countless studies, and mine and other weightlifters experience to be true.
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