The Most Vital Training Component You Are Not Doing
You know what one of the most important, but most neglected form of your training program that you’re not doing. Sleep. Sleep is one of the most crucial things that is holding you back from making the great gains you so desire, both in terms of loss of bodyfat and muscle gain.
It’s kind of fascinating because you will have to sleep eventually, it is simply unavoidable. However no one really knows why we have to sleep. And believe me, I’d be the first to admit that sleep is a pain in the neck. Just think of how many things could get done if you didn’t have to sleep.
Sleep is important for your training endeavors because the overall it is the one thing that sustains recovery from serious training efforts, despite knowing what the real function of sleep is set to do. Upon reflection of my own sleep habits, I decided to do a little experiment to try and figure out what it is about sleep that makes it important for us and our training endeavors.
The Past Month
For the past month I’ve been tracking my sleep via the Sleep Time app on my iPhone and also coordinating that with my results from my HRV scale (Heart Rate Variability – which measures the bodies level of stress from changes in heart rate rhythms). These results from my N+1 experiment show that sleep is very crucial to the level of the training stress and nervous system fatigue from intense activity. With a good dose of sleep, about 6-8 hours of non-interrupted sleep, the training loads feel very easy and intensity in the gym is high.
Whereas when I get a very poor level of sleep, it affects my performance in many ways. Either by making the loads feel overly heavy, sluggishness, lethargy and/or simply making it harder to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
You can feel this for yourself on days when you wake-up and have that hang over like effect where nothing is easy and everything seems to take longer than it should normally. Chances are your sleep quality is low.
What is Sleep
Sleep is basically the synchronous firing of slow amplitude brainwave activity that we called Delta waves or Delta Power. Putting this in perspective, it’s kind of like comparing your awake brain activity to a rock concert versus an orchestra when you’re asleep. When you’re awake, your brain is a jumble of activity with a chaotic mess of sounds and noise everywhere. Whereas sleep is basically a slow steady rhythm of soft sound that is all synchronized and flows smoothly together. This is sleep, or at least part of sleep.
Scientists have assumed that Delta power is the key to our recovery process and they’re still uncertain as to why, but we know that there is a huge difference in our performance level and our level of quality sleep. From my own perspective I’ve noticed that heavy training days cause a very big toll on the body whether doing heavy loads or very high-volume weightlifting activities. All this causes a very severe spike in my HRV and one will notice from my sleep patterns that I get them after I’ve done a lot of heavy exercises.
The key take away point from this is that when I don’t get enough sleep it impacts my performance greatly and you cannot hit the numbers that you normally should.
So If You Like Training Hard, Sleep It Up
Hence, if you’re after a leaner and fitter body you have to consider sleep into the equation for your training performance. Simply eating clean and training hard do wonders for the body, but only if your body can recover from the training. Sleep is a crucial part of that recovery process.
So if you’re burning the candle at both ends, eating so clean that even the food Nazis at work are starting to suspect you of having a horde of gummy bears in your locker, and your performance is still suffering at the gym, chances are you are need of a good dose of Zzzz’s. Sleep is recovery.
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