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Build Greater Lean Mass With Sleep!

If you want to maximize gains, you must sleep at least 8 hours every night. Learn more from my experiment of sleep, which details quantity of sleep and training. Follow this to improve lean mass gain!

Sleep is a very important part of bodybuilding. The three main aspects of bodybuilding is nutrition, training, and rest. Even though rest can simply mean not lifting for two days every week or taking a week off every 3 months, the sleeping aspect of rest is very important.

If you want to maximize gains, you must sleep at least 8 hours every night. It must be understood that this doesn't mean sleep 4 hours one night and try to make up by sleeping 12 the night after. If you truly want to get as big as you possibly can in the shortest amount of time, sleep 8 hours everyday, preferably all in one session. I successfully proved this point by doing an experiment by altering my own sleep schedule.

I trained for a little over 2 months (November 3 - January 4), altering my sleep schedule to test when I had best muscular mass gains.

The Workout

Lifting Days:

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday

Off Days:

  • Wednesday
  • Sunday

I had 3 different workouts that I switched each lifting day. These workouts were as follows:

Day One: Back & Biceps

Notes: I added weight to make sure that I could do no more than 10 reps yet still hit 8 reps.

Notes: I did these seated and alternating, using enough weight to crank out between 8- 10 reps.

Day Two: Shoulders & Legs

Notes: Nothing builds those legs more than 20 rep squats. I made to use a weight where I could get 20 reps barely, but still with no assistance.

Notes: I did these seated.

Day Three: Chest & Triceps

I used this workout from November 3 - November 30. I used the same supplements throughout the whole time, along with following the same diet. Each night I would weight myself before a shower with no clothes on, and I would find out my body fat percentage using a digital fat caliper using my lower stomach right below my belly button. The only thing I changed was my sleep schedule.

From November 3 - November 16, I did my best to get 6 hours of sleep every night. Because it's not possible to just fall asleep at a certain time (unless using sleeping pills which I am against), I would prepare for bed around 11:30 p.m. (when I had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. for school) and would usually fall asleep anywhere from 11:45 p.m. - 12:15 a.m.

From November 17 - November 30, I did my best to get 8 hours of sleep. I would once again prepare for bed around 30 minutes before I wanted to sleep (9:30 p.m.) and I would usually fall asleep anywhere from 9:45 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

From December 1 - December 7, I stayed away from lifting and did cardio 3 times that week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). When December 8 came along, I continued the workout from above until January 4, which is the day I ended the experiment. I once again used the same supplements and followed the same diet.

I altered my sleep schedule differently this time however. In order to eliminate bias, I now slept 8 hours the first 2 weeks of the routine and slept 6 hours the final 2 weeks of the routine. Once again, I weighed myself and used a fat caliper in the same place each day. The results proved a very important point in bodybuilding.

The Results

Day Weight (lbs) Body Fat Sleep (Hours)
November 3 172.2 10.5% 6
November 5 172.1 10.5% 6
November 6 172.2 10.6% 6
November 8 172.3 10.5% 6
November 9 172.4 10.4% 6
November 10 172.5 10.3% 6
November 12 172.7 10.5% 6
November 13 172.7 10.5% 6
November 15 173.0 10.4% 6
November 16 173.1 10.5% 6
November 17 173.0 10.4% 6
November 20 173.2 10.3% 8
November 22 172.4 10.4% 8
November 23 172.6 10.4% 8
November 24 173.7 10.3% 8
November 26 174.1 10.3% 8
November 27 174.2 10.3% 8
November 29 174.1 10.2% 8
November 30 174.2 10.3% 8

One Week Off

Day Weight (lbs) Body Fat Sleep (Hours)
December 8 174.6 10.6% 8
December 10 174.2 10.5% 8
December 11 174.2 10.4% 8
December 13 174.1 10.3% 8
December 14 174.3 10.2% 8
December 15 174.7 10.0% 8
December 17 174.7 10.2% 8
December 18 175.1 10.2% 8
December 20 175.3 10.2% 8
December 21 175.6 10.2% 8
December 22 175.8 10.2% 6
December 24 175.8 10.2% 6
December 25 175.8 10.3% 6
December 27 175.8 10.2% 6
December 28 175.9 10.2% 6
December 29 175.8 10.3% 6
December 31 175.7 10.2% 6
January 1 175.8 10.2% 6
January 3 175.8 10.1% 6
January 4 175.9 10.1% 6

They are quite self-explanatory. By adding the results of both trials together, when I slept 6 hours every night, my body fat percentage went down by a total of 0.2% and my weight increased by a total of 9/10ths of a pound. However, when I slept 8 hours every night, my body fat percentage went down by a total of 0.2% and my weight increased by a total of 2.5 pounds.

By analyzing these results, its quite obvious that while sleeping didn't have a significant effect on my body fat percentage, it did highly effect my lean muscle mass gained. I gained nearly 3 times as much lean muscle while getting an extra 2 hours of sleep each night.

While many people have told me that sleeping is a huge part of bodybuilding and that 8 hours is a necessity, I usually just ignored them and didn't worry about sleep too much. However, after completing this experiment, I do see that sleep significantly effects the growth of lean muscle mass.