Sleep – Optimise your strength


Sleep in Sport, Ep.3,
The effects of quality sleep on strength and recovery
We now know that sleep is an important factor when our goals are to lose weight and feel energized throughout the day, but what about if we want to gain muscle?

As a strength athlete you pride yourself in your workouts. You train hard, take care of your muscles, eat a balanced diet and see progress. Irrespective of the amount of care you place on your body and training regime, without adequate sleep you will see diminishing returns in strength. Sleep is perhaps the most important aspect of any strength program.

Testosterone Levels and Strength
As a strength athlete, you know that the more testosterone you have, the more anabolic you can be. This rise of testosterone will lead to faster recovery and greater retention of protein in your diet. The most important aspect to consider for testosterone is that much of it is produced during sleep.

Emerging research is now showing that even lacking sleep for one night has been shown to greatly decrease the amount of testosterone you can produce. A recent study showed that when 2 hours were taken off a typical sleep there was a 15% loss of daytime testosterone levels. This in turn lowers your performance in the gym indicating that sleeping well every night is crucial to your success as a strength athlete.

Sleep and Force Production in the Big Lifts
The golden question; can lack of sleep really limit your PR’s? 100% they can. Overall sleep quality plays a major role in the regulation of energy and natural cycles in the body. Without adequate sleep night in and night out you will lack power and strength, especially in your big lifts; squat, deadlift, bench. Large countermovement exercises like this require full-body muscle recruitment which cannot be achieved without an energized body.

Research shows that when men aged 18-24 had restricted sleep for three nights all lifts; squat, deadlift and bench press saw a decline in total force production. This study reinforces the idea that even a lack of sleep a night prior to a tough workout will see poor results.

Sleep and Recovery Time
You strength depends on the amount of recovery you can achieve in a 24-48 hr window. Especially when you train with high loads, such as heavy squats, heavy deadlifts the body needs optimal recovery, which includes rest and sleep.

Research shows that athletes who achieve more than 7h of sleep each night accelerate recovery up to 2x faster than those that achieve less than 6 h/night.

The consensus
Sleep is perhaps the most underrated aspect of your strength program. In order to optimize your strength, most experts will agree that 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep each night should be obtained. Take care to track your sleep so that you can best understand how to optimize your strength program.

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