by Mark Cesari
Gain Weight With Rest!
Natural Bodybuilder and Fitness Trainer
For those of us wanting to gain weight from muscle growth, rest could be crucially important to us. Sleep could be the best work out partner youíll ever have. Depriving your self of those Z's not only limits your ability to grow muscle but also is said to impair your coordination and mental focus.
This could translate to less strength and a greater chance of getting hurt. The reason rest could be ideal for people to gain weight is what happens during. Your body releases most of its growth hormone during sleep. So since working out can be demanding on the body match that demand with sleep.
Iíve read plenty of times how much sleep people ideally should get. But like so many other needs sleep is highly individual. Whatever our individual needs most of us don't meet them at some point or another. During preparation for my first natural bodybuilding show in 2002 I short changed my self of my sleep needs. According to Wisle Webb, PHD a sleep researcher for more than forty years and author of Sleep the Gentle Tyrant (Anker Publishing, 1992) says that "need" sleep is the amount after which you wake up naturally and feel rested.
Can we get by with less sleep and how will that affect our muscle building goals? According to Webb "We're already doing it" I certainly did so for quite awhile getting ready for the first natural show. "We're getting less than we need and we know that because we make it up" "Study after study says that sleep on weekends is one hour longer than sleep on week days."
Just as we can force our bodies to maintain a lower weight than natural, we can force our selves to get by on less sleep. But we will always be hungry for food, and we will always tired wanting rest. We can't cheat it forever.
I allowed myself four and a half months to get ready for the show. But I was only sleeping four hours on average each night during that time. I felt exhausted from doing this and my strength decreased rapidly with this approach. During preparation for my second natural bodybuilding show in 2003 I didn't sacrifice my sleep needs. I allowed my self six months to get ready for the show. This time I was sleeping eight hours on average each night during that time. It helped big time with how I felt alertness and strength wise.
There were certainly some mistakes I made with my nutrition and strength training plans during the first show that also affected both my alertness and strength levels. I tried to much initially with dropping my caloric intake too quickly.
With the strength training I was doing too many sets and training too many days a week. With the cardiovascular training I didnít do too much since I was only teaching Spinning class four times a week. Correcting these mistakes along with sleeping more I feel helped me to improve from third place in the first show to first place in the second show.
When ever I read an article on the importance of sleep most times they are telling you get eight hours of sleep a night. Even though averaging eight hours a night was an effective plan for me while I prepared for the second show I'm not saying you have to get exactly that.
Experiment with different lengths of time to find out what works best for your body. Getting to know your physiology is largely trial and error. After all that's what bodybuilding is all about listening to your body. Having this awareness will help whether you chose to compete in shows or not.
As a matter of fact I read a recent issue of Muscle and Fitness. An article said that "the average natural length of sleep is seven and a half hours, with about sixty percent of people needing within an hour of that six and a half or eight and a half. At the extreme ends of the bell curve are the lucky few who get by with four and a half hours and those of us poor souls that require as much as ten and a half." It has been a little over a year since I won the N.A.B.F. lightweight championship. After experimenting I have realized that ten hours a night helps me to be at my best.
I weighed one hundred forty six and a half pounds during the first show which qualified me for the low end of the lightweight division. I weighted one hundred fifty five and a half pounds during the second show. Since the head judge allowed me a half pound allowance that qualified me for the high end of the light weight division.
During both the first and second shows I was at four and a half percent body fat. This means that in a year's time I was able to gain weight. Specifically gaining nine pounds of muscle in comparison to the first natural show I competed in.
According to Claudio Stampi, MD PHD, founder and director of the Chronobiology Research Institute in Boston, there is flexibility within our normal need. "Sleep recovery doesn't add up algebraically" So if for any reason you have to go too many sleep deprived nights it could affect your efforts to gain weight.
That makes finding out your sleep needs very important. Ideally you should then strive to sleep the optimum amount of time each night to meet your needs. Donít plan on being able to gain weight or perform at your very best without allowing yourself the proper rest.
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