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.
I had 3 different workouts that I switched each lifting day. These workouts were as follows:
Day One: Back & Biceps
- Wide-Grip Pullups - 3 Sets of 8-10
Notes: I added weight to make sure that I could do no more than 10 reps yet still hit 8 reps.
- Seated Cable Rows - 3 sets of 8-10
- Bent-Over Barbell Rows - 2 sets of 8-10
- Dumbbell Hammer Curls - 2 sets of 8-10
Notes: I did these seated and alternating, using enough weight to crank out between 8- 10 reps.
Day Two: Shoulders & Legs
- Barbell Squats - 3 sets of 20
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.
- Dumbbell Lunges - 3 sets of 12
- Machine Leg Extensions - 2 sets of 8-10
- Donkey Calf Raises - 2 sets of 15
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press - 4 sets of 8-10
Notes: I did these seated.
- Lateral Raises - 2 sets of 8-10
- Standing Cable Front Raises - 2 sets of 8-10
- Dumbbell Seated Rear Delt Raises - 2 sets of 8-10
Day Three: Chest & Triceps
- Flat Bench Smith Machine Bench Press - 3 sets of 8-10
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - 2 sets of 8-10
- Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes - 2 sets of 8-10
- Flat Bench Close-Grip Bench Press - 2 sets of 8-10
- Cable Pushdowns - 2 sets of 8-10
- Overhead Dumbbell Extensions - 2 sets of 8-10
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.
|Day||Weight (lbs)||Body Fat||Sleep (Hours)|
One Week Off
|Day||Weight (lbs)||Body Fat||Sleep (Hours)|
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.